Selena Gomez On The Path She Didn’t Take: ‘I’d Have Two Children By Now’

If Selena Gomez’s upcoming role as a wily jail-cell philosophizer in “Spring Breakers” wasn’t enough to convince you that she’s getting ready to make big, serious waves in the entertainment biz, then here’s another hint that the girl is all grown up: She’s on the cover of Glamour’s December issue, being honored as one of the magazine’s 2012 Women of the Year. And with an ever-growing resume of accomplishments, Selena took the time in her interview to make it clear that she’s got her eye on bigger things than sheer stardom…even while being typically gracious in the face of questions about her rumored romance with Justin Bieber.

Among Selena’s latest projects: her new role in humanitarian efforts as the youngest-ever ambassador for UNICEF. And according to the actress, a recent trip to Ghana put an awful lot in perspective.

“If you think how we live our lives here, we need so much to keep us entertained, and we expect so much,” she said. “And these kids want an education so badly. I mean, I hated homework, and they want it; it’s amazing.”

In fact, says Selena, she’s done a lot of growing up since her early days as a teen idol—so much that her 15-year-old self might not even recognize her.

“I was so scared and so shy back then,” she remembered. “I mean, I grew up in one of the biggest high schools in the world, and that’s the Disney Channel. Everybody was falling in love with each other or not liking each other, and it was exhausting…and I was the shy one in the corner. And now I’m so opinionated, and I don’t have time for the cattiness. I have good people around me, and I’m glad I’m at the place I’m in.”

And throughout her interview, it’s obvious that Selena understands how far she’s come—not just from her showbiz beginnings, but from her earliest start as the child of a single, working mom in Grand Prairie, Texas.

“I definitely didn’t appreciate it when I was little. I was frustrated that my parents weren’t together, and never saw the light at the end of the tunnel where my mom was working hard to provide a better life for me,” she admitted. But now: “I’m terrified of what I would have become if I’d stayed there,” she said. “I’m sure I’d have two children by now. But I love the people, and I’m glad I grew up there. It’s because of [my mom] that I can do things on my own.”

Want more of Selena on Selena? There’s more (including the Bieber-related questions you may or may not be dying for) over on!

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