Carey says that her drive started when she was a child, growing up on New York's Long Island. She is of mixed race, and she grew up feeling that no group accepted her. Her family moved around from place to place.
"I grew up poor … interracial family, afraid the rug would be pulled out," she said. "I had an incredible work ethic where I was afraid if I didn't work twice as hard I'd be back in a room in a shack."
Even when her stardom was firmly established, her work ethic remained.
"So if I had an in-store [appearance] and I hadn't slept in 20 hours, I would never blow off an in-store or not go because I might disappoint one fan," Carey said. "What I needed was some boundaries in my life, to take care of myself, to say no, because I never wanted to let the fans down."
She says she has learned to give herself a break and to take care of herself.
"I know better now," Carey said. "I never knew how to draw the line."