Credit: Lester Cohen/

Angelina Jolie isn't the wild child she once was -- and she's OK with that.

Describing her younger self as "experimental, bold and a bit nutty," the now 36-year-old actress tells USA Today she was "absolutely self-destructive" early in her career.

"I think a lot of young people in this business lose their way. You don't know what is of value. You don't know where you are. And you know something's wrong, because it isn't life as it actually is," Jolie explains. "It's like living in some warped reality."

The actress -- who shares six children with partner of six years Brad Pitt, 47 -- finally settled down "once I started to learn about the world and I became grateful for everything that I certainly have. Since going through my first war zone, never have I woken up and not been simply grateful."

Once she adopted son Maddox in 2002, the In the Land of Blood and Honey director realized there was no going back. "I knew once I committed to Maddox, I would never be self-destructive again," Jolie says. "Now I have five more [kids], so I have to behave."

Given her multiple responsibilities as a mother, lover, actress, director and U.N. ambassador, Jolie has learned how to multitask over the years. "I always Christmas shop early in case we have to travel somewhere," she says.

"Brad and I were on for the first time a week ago. But we got lost. After an hour, we just shut it off," she tells USA Today. "My brain is too scattered and the wires go in different directions. I'll stick to catalogs."