Dolly Parton Revealed She Was Often Lonely as a Child, Despite Growing up With 11 Siblings

Dolly Parton comes from a large family. Growing up, the singer spent a ton of time with her 11 siblings. But despite never being alone, the country music legend often felt lonely.

Dolly Parton attending The 53rd Annual CMA Awards
Dolly Parton | Taylor Hill/Getty Images

Dolly Parton grew up in the mountains of East Tennessee

Parton grew up in the Great Smoky Mountains with her parents and 11 siblings. The family lived in a one-bedroom shack with no electricity or running water.

Though they didn’t have much money, the Parton siblings had plenty of love and food as their parents were sharecroppers and hunters.

“Mama was a great cook and taught us all her tricks,” Parton once said, adding that the whole family worked hard to be self-sufficient. The only things they needed from the general store were coffee and sugar.

Dolly Parton always knew she was ‘different’

Though she had plenty of siblings to play with while growing up, Parton previously admitted that she often stayed to herself as a child.

A photo of a young Dolly Parton
Dolly Parton | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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According to the singer, she spent many days daydreaming about leaving home to see the world.

“I was just different, and I knew it. A person might think that a kid growing up with that many others would never be lonely, but I often was. Some kids make up imaginary friends, and I had my own version of that,” Parton shared in her 1994 autobiography, Dolly: My Life and Other Unfinished Business. “I called them my angels. I would talk to my angels all the time. I felt safer because they were with me. They understood why I had to sing, why I had such dreams, why I wanted to climb aboard a butterfly and wing my way out of the holler and into the world that I knew lay beyond what I could see.”

Parton knew that she was destined for greatness and couldn’t wait for the time she could become a music sensation and never look back.

“I always felt like I was somebody special, maybe it’s because I needed to be somebody special,” she said during a 1984 discussion with Interview Magazine. “I just always knew I was going to be a star. I was always going to be rich so I could buy things for Mommy and Daddy, so that I could buy them a big house and we could have things.”

Dolly Parton would let her imagination run wild

Parton always had big dreams, and as a child growing up in rural Tennessee, she spent a lot of time envisioning the ideal life for herself.

Even now that she’s a country music icon, the singer still lets her imaginations run wild, proving that you’re never too old to dream.

Dolly Parton performing onstage at the 61st Annual Grammy Awards in 2019
Dolly Parton | ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

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“When I was a little girl growing up in the hills of the Smoky Mountains, I’d often let my imagination just run away — something I still do now,” she once said, per “Dreaming these big dreams about what it’d be like to venture off with the family of bears into the woods or how fun it would be to hitch a ride with the butterflies and dragonflies.”

While many of her dreams and aspirations have come true over the years, it seems that Parton still allows her thoughts to lift her into creativity.