“I am just so proud of you, you know, being just an amazing role model and embracing your truth,” the former first lady told the teen.
Zaya Wade is getting advice about life and self-acceptance from her “idol,” Michelle Obama.
In a video shared to Zaya’s Instagram on Thursday, the 13-year-old — who is the daughter of former NBA star Dwyane Wade — and the former First Lady had a virtual conversation about Obama’s young reader adaptation of her bestselling memoir, “Becoming.”
However, before they dove into the discussion, Zaya reacted to meeting one of her “idols.”
“I hear you’re slotting me in between school, so I feel very special,” Obama said. “Ask your teacher for forgiveness from me because you’re doing me a favor.”
“I’m meeting an idol. I’m literally meeting an idol,” said Zaya, who admitted she was a little nervous to meet Obama. “[I’ve been] preparing for this moment for so long.”
Zaya then initiated the conversation, asking Obama: “What advice do you have for teens who want to be themselves and thrive like you have and currently are?”
“Well, like you have and currently are,” Obama replied to Zaya. “I am just so proud of you, you know, being just an amazing role model and embracing your truth.”
“It does take time to know what yourself is,” she continued, adding that her first piece of advice is for teens to “be patient” with themselves. “At your age, or in the teenage years and probably through your 20s, you’re gonna be experimenting with so many versions of yourself, right? All young people are trying on different versions, different voices, they’re learning more about their intellect, they’re learning about what they love, what they’re good at, what they like. This is the period of exploration.”
Obama said there is often “too much pressure” put on teens to know what they want to be when they grow up. However, the author stressed that they “aren’t supposed to know yet,” noting that a teenager’s job isn’t to have it “all figured out,” but to give themselves “space and time to learn and grow.”
“Growth comes from difference. Growth comes from when you try on something new and you learn from that,” Obama explained. “So right now, I would just encourage young people to keep on exploring that, because it’s a lifelong journey. Who you are today, no matter how confident you feel, by the time you’re my age, almost 60, you will have tried on so many different versions of yourself and hopefully, I have more things to try on.”
After sharing her words of wisdom, Obama asked Zaya what advice she would give to her peers on their journeys to becoming their true selves.
“We all think that we thrive with people who are just like us, but I think getting a different perspective from someone else who isn’t like you really helps,” Zaya said. “That definitely helped me in becoming me and defining my truth.”
“I think that change, even though it’s scary, is probably one of the most beneficial things in growth.”
Zaya later posted a screenshot from her interview with Obama on her Instagram Stories, writing, “I’m so excited to have met this inspirational woman and my personal idol!”
Meanwhile, Zaya’s interview was met with praise by fans and celebrities, including her stepmom, actress Gabrielle Union.
“I’m sooooo proud!!!!!!! You are such a star!” she commented on the video, while Dwyane sent several star emojis.