Selena Gomez & Her Post-Alex Russo Magic

When I was younger, I would go around calling myself a “Selenator” like it was a badge of honor. You could find dozens of photos, posters, quotes and magazines of Selena Gomez scattered around my room. I should probably be embarrassed about that. I’m really not, though. I think it was my form of a vision board back then (before they became trendy and motivational).

Seeing pictures of her really helped me to be conscious of and realize what kind of woman I wanted to be. She’s recognized as a triple threat: an actor, singer and dancer. Through the years, as I watched her grow into her success and clapped for her triumphant strides, it became clearer to me that I wanted to be an independent, hardworking and powerful woman. While I’m not currently sitting in a room that looks like a fan page in real life, I still love and adore Selena with just about everything in me.

First and foremost, the way Selena Gomez confronted her diagnosis of lupus was remarkable. Through her kidney transplant and recovery, she remained grateful. She spoke about feeling blessed to receive treatment and still be here. Since then, she has recorded and released new music, initiated conversations about mental health and immigration, produced shows and movies, and launched her own makeup brand. 

Seeing how she has handled this situation has made me realize that you don’t have to get back up right away. You don’t have to immediately stand up when you get knocked down or when you feel discouraged. You have a right to respond naturally, and your feelings are valid. What's important is to remain thankful, especially when it's hard to see your blessings. What's important is to remind yourself of all the wondrous things you will be accomplishing once you get back on your feet. This is why if I ever sat at a table with Selena, the first thing I would say is thank you. 

It's become normal to think that you're going to be able to recover from life’s blows almost instantaneously, which is not realistic at all (in most cases). Instead, this mentality she has helped me adapt to is of gratitude and a zeal for life, which has propelled my optimistic yet realistic outlook on life.

Selena has grown up in the limelight. She has always been in a place to be scrutinized by hundreds of millions of people. Having to juggle understanding what the public perceives of her, how to be a positive role model for the youth that looks up to her, and fulfilling what she feels is best for her and her own desires is quite the balancing act. Not to mention, Selena has had to steer away from how people picture her— as an ex Disney star, innocent, and Justin Bieber’s ex-girlfriend — all in hopes of preserving her individuality, her autonomy, and demonstrating that she is so much more than those things. Since having to prove yourself nonstop is exhausting and overwhelming, she understands the added weight that those who struggle with mental health feel on their backs. Through her genuineness and vulnerability, she has made her platform into a safe space.

To me, Selena Gomez is a representation of how, when grace and a hard-working spirit are in unison, the fruits of one’s rewards are plentiful. She's like the big sister I've always wanted, so much so that I get as excited for her birthday as I do for my best friends’ birthdays. In that way, I look up to her. I enjoy listening to what she has to say and what she’s up to. I empathize when she is experiencing hardship and cheer for her when she wins, because my spirits are raised when I play her music, put on a film she’s in, or listen to an interview of hers.

I’ve never really agreed with idolizing someone. I think it can be detrimental to look at a celebrity or even a person in your life as a cookie-cutter guide for success. Holding a human being to an ideal that cannot be reached because of his or her humanity can be damaging, both for you and that person as well. It’s an almost sure-fire way to get let down. However, admiring and appreciating someone that constantly tries to be honest and held accountable, as well as continually striving towards growth, is powerful. Selena Gomez has been that for me ever since her role as Alex Russo. And that is magic.