Lauren Alaina achieved a new career milestone with the release of her latest record, Road Less Traveled, in January. The album includes her first No. 1 hit, its title track, which catapulted Alaina to a new level of fame, earning Alaina plenty of new fans. She also won her first-ever major trophy, for Breakthrough Video of the Year at the 2017 CMT Music Awards, and received an ACM Awards nomination for New Female Vocalist of the Year.

Alaina's recent successes, the singer says, are only part of fulfilling the dreams she's had since being named the runner-up during Season 10 of American Idol in 2011.

"I’ve been waiting for last year to happen for the last six years. It’s such a rewarding feeling when I know that people are pulling for me," Alaina shared with The Boot and other reporters at a recent media event. "When they announced my name and I won the [CMT] award, the artists around me, when they stood up and they were smiling so big, I could just tell they were happy for me. I can cry thinking about it.

"It made me feel so loved, and that’s our goal on Earth, I think, is to feel loved," she adds. "I felt loved by everyone the last year. I’ve always felt loved, but I feel really loved now."

On Road Less Traveled, Alaina is extremely candid about plenty of aspects of her personal life, from her eating disorder (in "Road Less Traveled") to her father's alcoholism (in "Same Day, Different Bottle"). For Alaina, writing her own truths became part of her healing process, although she acknowledges she didn't always plan on being this forthcoming.

"I write from a different place than I used to write from. I have more to say because I’ve decided to say the things that I have to say, so it’s definitely different and more honest," notes the singer. "I hope nothing tragic happens to me for this next album; maybe this next album can be super-happy. Something horrible is going to have to happen to me, because this whole album is about all the crazy things."

Alaina's success, especially after appearing on Idol, has made her one of the more recognizable faces in country music. And considering the way she has bravely touched on topics others might consider taboo, it's no wonder that fans, especially young girls, are quick to approach the 22-year-old. While Alaina may not have the answers to their problems, she's always happy to offer support.

"I think we’re all doing the best we can," she says. "We all have problems, and we all have to work through things, and I just do those things in front of more people. I, at first, didn’t know how to handle that, and it was super-scary for me. But now, I think it’s a huge blessing, because I won’t handle everything perfectly, but hopefully, I need to look well enough that I can talk about it and joke about it and cry about it and be honest about it, and people will respect that in some way.

"I have a lot of girls who come up to me and tell me they’re overcoming eating disorders, or have in the past, or moms telling me about their children," she continues. "It’s things like that that make me glad that I spoke out about it, because I was so scared to put this album out, because it is the good, the bad and the ugly of Lauren Alaina, and it’s actually been the most rewarding process I’ve ever been a part of."

Road Less Traveled is available for purchase on Amazon and iTunes.

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