Growing up, many of us are often told that before we can follow our dreams or pursue our life’s goals we must prepare for them. We are often seen as obedient sponges, soaking up the knowledge we gain through school and experiences so that we may act on it later in life. We are often asked who we want to be when we grow up. Rarely, however, are we told that we can be something even while we are growing.
So when we have young people like Zendaya, 19, reminding us of this by example, we must thank the dream gods…or the life gods…or the rock star gods. The point is we should be thanking something because Zendaya’s presence in the entertainment world in this generation is truly a blessing.
Ironically enough, Zendaya’s name means, “to give thanks” in the language of the Shona people of Zimbabwe. Zendaya is a walking embodiment of this notion, as she consistently shows appreciation for her position in life through her strategic career decisions, public gestures, her social and political vocality and her charity work.
And she’s still growing, in all aspects of that word.
Zendaya reminds us that being the change we wish to see in the world is as simple as being and not waiting for that “right” moment or that “right” opportunity. It is that embracing of one’s self and her individuality that makes Zendaya stand out like a flickering candlelight in the dark.
At just 19 years old, Zendaya is an actress, singer, dancer, model and an author. More importantly, she is what every single one us have the potential to be: an icon.
Grandiose as that may sound, we all have it in us to bravely represent something truly bigger than ourselves.
Just last week at Nickelodeon’s 2016 Kids’ Choice Awards, Zendaya mentioned during her acceptance speech for winning the award for “Favorite Female TV Star,” that she does not taking being a role model for granted.
No matter what we’re currently doing in our lives, be it something close to our dreams or very far away, we must remember that it’s important we too not take anything for granted, and know that it is never too early to make a difference or take steps towards being who we wish to be.
Aside from being a role model, Zendaya is an inspiration for people of all ages and she makes it a regular point to be responsible with her platform.
Just when we thought partnering with Barbie to diversify their dolls was big enough, Zendaya also recently partnered with CHI Hair Products and Tools to become the face of its #REALisBEAUTIFUL campaign. The campaign promotes the idea of being fearless and comfortable with who you are, as well as finding out more about yourself through your hair.
Did Zendaya really just take the education she served Giuliana Rancic on hair and bake it into an initiative? *Drops mic*
Speaking of which, Zendaya also shows us that it’s always OK to use your voice to stand up for yourself, though she sets the bar high with her eloquent clap backs. Using Twitter as her platform, she seeks to educate young people on how to use social media in a positive way.
“I feel like I’ve finally understood its power,” Zendaya told MTV News.
And even Michelle Obama acknowledges the significance of Zendaya’s usage of her platform, as she recently tapped her to sing a part in her song, “This is For My Girls,” which supports her Let Girls Learn education initiative.
Yes, it’s totally normal for you to ask, “what have I done with my life,” at this moment. But what’s more important is that we understand that growing is a never-ending process, and there’s no better time than now to put in the effort of being who we wish to be.
Thank you, Zendaya, for being the quintessential role model even while growing into the woman you were meant to be.
Now signing off with the reminder: Don’t wait for the world to recognize your greatness, live it and let the world catch up to you.