Taking the stage at a We Day conference in Oakland, Calif., the singer-actress – who stunned in a red pantsuit and remained poised throughout her speech – told a screaming crowd of fans that she had "given into … pressure."
"I'm surrounded by people who are supposed to guide me, and some of them have and others haven't," Gomez, 21, told the audience. "They pressure me … you gotta be sexy, you gotta be cute, you gotta be nice. You gotta be all these things."
And though she's grown up a bit differently from her fans – with the eyes of the world on her every move including multiple breakups and makeups with Justin Bieber – the star stressed she can relate to what they go through every day.
"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. … They tell me what to wear, how to look, what I should say, how I should be," she continued, getting emotional.
"Until recently, I had given into that pressure. I lost sight of who I was. I listened to opinions of people and I tried to change who I am because I thought that others would accept me for it."
Now that she's learned she doesn't "know how to be anything but myself," Gomez is hoping her fans follow the same route.
"I know what it's like figuring out what types of friends you have," she said. "I'd be lying if I said I've never tried to make myself better by giving in because I have, but I've learned from my actions and for all of the things I've done, I'm proudest of that. I've learned from my mistakes."