She might be only 21, but Selena Gomez is a brand new woman.
During the first annual We Day California at Oakland's Oracle Arena, the star opened up to thousands of young people about some of the pressures she's faced since beginning her career more than a decade ago that may have led to her two-week rehab stint earlier this year.
"I am surrounded by people who are supposed to guide me, and some of them have, and others haven't. They pressure me. There's so much pressure. 'You gotta be sexy. You gotta be cute. You gotta be nice. You gotta be all these things,'" she admitted. "I'm sure you can all relate. You all have pressure that you have to deal with every day. I'm sure with school, with work, with friends, with parents, with family — with parents," she repeated with a smile.
"They tell me what to wear, how to look, what I should say, how I should be. Until recently, I had given in to that pressure. I lost sight of who I was."
The "Come and Get It" singer became visibly choked up as she continued. "I listened to opinions of people and I tried to change who I am because I thought that others would accept me for it, and I realized I don't know how to be anything but myself."
In other words, it sounds like Selena found the grounding she needed — and she took this opportunity to encourage others to do the same.
"I'm sure all of you have been told that you don't have what it takes and that you may not be good enough... when deep down, it's all you want to do," she explained. "You want to be part of something great, you want to make something great. It crushes you when people try to tell you that you're not good enough."
And even Selena — one of Hollywood's most sought-after stars — has had that experience. Referencing some (sorely mistaken) casting director who told her she didn't have what it takes to have her own show back when she was 11, Selena credited her mother for encouraging her to push on.
"She said the most important thing is always to trust in myself. If I'm doing something, I should do it because I love it and I think I can do it," she mused. "She is the definition of a strong woman."
It appears this is a case of like mother – like daughter, because Selena had true command of the crowd during her talk. Looking nothing short of resplendent (we don't use that word lightly) in a red power suit, the star took a moment to make a plea to her fans.
"All I really want you to know is that you are changing the world. I'm not changing the world. You're changing the world," she said. "Please just be kind to each other and love and inspire people. Let's do it. Let's do it. Let's change the game." Where do we sign up?
Gomez wasn't the only speaker at We Day — Orlando Bloom, Seth Rogen, and Magic Johnson also stepped onstage to offer their words of wisdom and empowerment to the crowd of approximately 16,000.
— Seth Rogen (@Sethrogen) March 26, 2014
Selena also posted a photo on Instagram from backstage with her celeb pals, noting, "#Weday -unbelievable time. So inspired and hopefully encouraged many!!"