A few weeks ago I noticed a book beaming up at me from underneath my friends T.V. stand. After a very nice request to borrow it, and a promise not leave crumbs in between the pages, Becoming was in my hands and ready to show me what all the rage was about.
A few days (and crumbs) later, I found out. Michelle Obama’s writing possessed a surprising amount of candidacy. As soon as I started reading Michelle’s story, I began to feel as if I were a close friend getting let in on all the family secrets. With intimate details of her father’s disability and adolescent insecurities, I immediately connected to her life story and invested in learning more. Her childhood memories made me feel like I was reliving mine, and so every few pages, I may or may not let a few tears slip. Okay it was a lot of tears. I got so sensitive to the point of purposely refraining from reading in public because no one should have to witness an almost-twenty-year-old crying over the former first lady.
“Time, as far as my father was concerned, was a gift you gave to other people.” (Page 34)
Becoming gave me more than just tears. Michelle insightfully analyzed her own development for readers to understand her as a person. In her book, she reflected on the consequences she had faced from her own ambition, and I was able to interpret them as personal life lessons from one of the most prominent people in the world. Also, even as a black woman growing up on the South Side of Chicago, Michelle acknowledged her own privilege of having a caring support group growing up and an invested education. Her struggles with accepting her own success, giving up control and navigating complex family issues reaffirmed to me that it’s perfectly okay to have my own, because even THE Michelle Obama didn’t have a perfect life; an important reminder for me in an age of everyone looking perfect on social media.
“It was painful, but time pushed us all forward.” (Page 90)
Even more, Michelle’s struggles were incredibly earnest and realistic. She faced situations so utterly unfair that Becoming forced me to contemplate the implications of taking “the high road.” She worked harder than anyone knew yet her success was something rarely regarded in politics. The week I was reading Becoming, I had one of those weeks that tested me over and over again. People close to me decided I wasn’t important enough to keep around, and instead of getting angry and yelling, I decided to step up and away, just like the Obamas had managed to do an incredible amount of times (even amazingly so with Trump).
“I knew I was no smarter than any if them. I just had the advantage of an advocate. I thought about this more often now that I was an adult, especially when people applauded me for my achievements, as if there weren’t a strange and cruel randomness to it all.” (Page 176)
And, finally, Michelle just inspired the heck out of me. Although I don’t think I could ever mimic the pace of her insanely busy life, her professional life is a admirable goal. Her recollection of doubts and discoveries she had in her early career once again told me to follow what I love instead of what’s going yield a satisfactory nod from people. I have absolutely no clue how Michelle was able to remember nearly 400 pages worth of personal anecdotes and life events, but her biography feels like a paved road for me to follow. Everything I do, from writing this blog to going to class, is building me for something unpredictably bigger, like her work with nonprofits prepared her to make meaningful change throughout the entire country. It’s exciting to think about where my potential can land me, even though I don’t exactly have my eyes set on the White House.
“Barack and I would sit at dinner, hearing tales from the Sidwell playground or listening to the detail’s of Malia’s research project on endangered animals, feeling as if these were the most important things in the world. Because they were. They deserved to be.” (Page 347)
Thank you for sharing Michelle. As a short, young girl in an increasingly intimidating world, it helps to have a tall woman to look up to. I hope you and Barack are enjoying your post-presidency life, avoiding news channels with carrot-head men and relaxing on a beach somewhere (although seemingly knowing the two of you the beach part is probably unlikely).
“Dominance, even the threat of it, is a form of dehumanization. It’s the ugliest kind of power.” (Page 408)
P.S. I know I’m a few years late on reading Becoming, but Michelle’s wisdom and Trump shade is timeless.
P.P.S. This is my first blog post in a long time on this page because Ive been blogging abroad for my university. If you’d like to catch up on the last few months of my life, the link is below 😉