"American Idol" alum Jordin Sparks wowed audiences around the country when she became the show's youngest winner in 2007 at just 17. The seasoned signer, actress and perfume designer reflects on her time growing up, and how her confidence has become her greatest accessory.
I love my smile because it makes other people smile.
We have the ability to make somebody else smile just by looking at them. And whenever I do, I hope that sunshine and happiness comes out every time! I’m grateful for it. And I know I’m going to get laugh lines and smile lines, but I’m OK with it because it means I laughed a lot.
You are beautiful just the way you are. Everybody has a unique aspect. It would really stink if we were all the same. I don’t want to look the same as anybody else because I’m made the way that I am.
If there was one thing I could’ve told myself when I was younger, in that super vulnerable stage in my life, I would’ve said, "What others’ opinion is of you is their business. You don’t have to take it personally. You don’t have to take it all in and internalize it."
As teenagers, we care so much — we’re developing, we’re learning and we’re trying to figure things out and growing up is tough in and of itself, to add that extra pressure of caring about what someone you don’t even know said, I wish I would’ve been able to tell myself, "Listen, just stay focused and let it slide off your shoulders."
But I knew I was beautiful in this certain way — not like "she should be a model" or whatever. I knew I was beautiful because my family loved me and I found my identity in that.
And again, with my smile, I know that you can change someone’s day just by smiling or asking them how they are and I think that’s pretty much where I get my confidence from. Also, my fans believing in me, of course. But outside of that, I definitely get it from my family.
Because if all (the fame) fell away, I would be just fine going home and spending time with my niece everyday, you know? I believe in the solid foundation of my family.
Confidence is an array of different things. It’s not just what the outside looks like. You can have a lot of confidence and then that can change. Things can happen. You can want a different look, change your hair. You can go through an array of different changes that can alter your outside.
It’s cliché, but it’s so true. It’s what you have in here — it’s your beliefs, your morals, how you deal with other people, how you stand in the face of adversity. That is where confidence can come from and be built.
Not everybody’s going to be confident 100 percent of the time. And even if they seem like it, you never know what somebody else is going through.
As told to TODAY's Brooke Sassman.