SZA Shares Advice For Her Younger Self: 'Trust Yourself, Don't Try So Hard to Fit in'

SZA, who is receiving the rule breaker award at the 13th annual Women in Music event on Dec. 6 in New York City, sat down with Billboard ahead of the big night to look at some photographs from her childhood and to share some words of wisdom for her younger self.

First, the singer is shown a picture from her eleventh birthday party, where she can be seen smiling and excitedly holding up a gift that she was given. “I received a Bath and Body Works set and I was really, really hype because I felt like cool girls smell nice,” the singer tells Billboard. “And my sister really smelled nice all the time and I wanted to attempt to join her.”

“It's just a grown-ass gift for a little girl,” she adds. “But either way, I'm grateful that I'm clean and this was free. But these glasses are iconic. When I lost them, it was devastating. I love this necklace. This is a choker from Jamaica, actually from the year before that I got on my tenth birthday.”

The “Supermodel” singer also looks at one of her old school pictures, which she guesses was taken in pre-school, and features her in a colorful Mickey Mouse-print shirt. “My dad, whenever he would do my hair, he would barely touch it, it would just be like just the tiniest of brushing and it would barely be together,” she explains.

“This is one of his buns. And they were notoriously always on the very top of my head…I didn't smile in a lot of my pictures when I was super little. I asked my mom why and she said I was born serious…but my shirt is full of whimsy, and I think that is more important!”

Asked what advice she would want to give to her younger self, SZA replies, “It would probably be to trust yourself or not try so hard to fit in…I was so different that I think trying to fit in at all was so obviously painful for me and for other people who caught second-hand embarrassment, like trying to watch me assimilate.”

“I was definitely just designed to experience life the way I was supposed to experience it,” she continues, “And I think I fought that for a long time.”

You can watch the full video above to see SZA react to more childhood photos, and be sure to tune in to the Women in Music red carpet pre-show live on Twitter from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. EST on Dec. 6.

2018 Billboard Women in Music