After more than a year of the sort of pranks everyone gets up to in the terrible teens of 18 to 20—egging the neighbor’s house, pissing in the janitor’s mop bucket, spraying graffiti behind the local Brazil, punching your limo driver, smoking weed in your private plane, drunkenly drag-racing your Lamborghini and resisting arrest—Justin Bieber has finally put aside childish things and childish assault charges and spoken as a man does: to Ellen. The nation’s fun aunt—who’s had similarly successful, soft-spoken talking-tos with other boys the nation’s moms just can’t handle anymore, like Shia LaBeouf and Kanye West—had Bieber on her birthday show today, in which Bieber gave her the precious gift of his own self-awareness. It meant the most, because it was homemade.

Following his sunny mid-morning of the soul, Bieber later retired to have a long think in his feelings room, releasing a dimly lit video that suggested he’s being held hostage—by his emotions.

“I was really nervous,” Bieber says of his Ellen taping. “And I think I was nervous because I’m afraid of what people are thinking about me right now. It’s been a minute since I’ve been in a public appearance, and I didn’t want to come off arrogant or conceited, or basically how I’ve been acting the last year, year and a half.”

Racing through the streets of self-realization, his face pelted with tears (the eggs of the eyes), Bieber explained how that misbehavior was all just posturing, that he only pretends to be a selfish tyrant with sneering contempt for everyone else to hide just how much he actually feels. “I’m not who I was pretending to be,” Bieber continues. “Why I say ‘pretending’ is because we often pretend to be something we’re not as a cover-up of what we’re truly feeling inside. There was a lot of feelings going on in there.” Processing those feelings is complicated; pissing in a mop bucket is easy.

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But all that’s over now: Bieber reminds everyone that “being young and growing up in this business is hard—growing up in general is hard.” But eventually, with the help of time and a good PR person, you accrue the wisdom necessary to release blanket statements of contrition, and assurances that you do care about people, even though your every private action has suggested an almost pathological disregard for them. It’s all just part of growing up.

“I really want people to know I care. I care about people,” Bieber says. “I’m not that person that I don’t give a fuck, I’m not that kid. I’m a person who genuinely, genuinely cares. Although what’s happened in the past has happened, I just want to make the best impression on people, and be kind, and loving, and gentle, and soft. Although people can call me a softie, that’s how my mom raised me.”

Justin Bieber’s penitence tour continues with March’s Comedy Central Roast, in which comedians will give him a break because he’s just a mixed-up kid who feels too much.

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