Reading becoming by Michelle Obama was a great start to the year. This book took me longer than I thought it would to read it. Wait, don’t get me wrong. It’s not because it was boring or a drag but because there’s so much to read and reflect on. Sometimes the book made me so emotional that it was hard to go on. Michelle Obama is a wonderful storyteller. She starts her story back to when she lived with her parents in a too small for four upstairs unit of her aunt’s house. As she mentions, “My father, Fraser, taught me to work hard, laugh often, and keep my word. My mother, Marian, showed me how to think for myself and to use my voice.”, you can see how her parents taught her very simple yet powerful lessons and laid strong foundations for her life. Finding your voice is one of the central themes of the book.
“Your story is what you have, what you will always have. It is something to own.”
The first part of the book talks about the early formative years of Michelle Obama’s life. What struck me was how normal it was, as she says towards the end of the book, “I’m an ordinary person who found herself on an extraordinary journey.” But you can see seeds of greatness being nurtured throughout her life by people who see her potential. The second part was where I got extremely emotional. I am a feminist and have always believed that if I try hard enough I can have everything and having everything is how I know I have succeeded. But, Michelle through her story tells you how being a career driven women, wife, mother and daughter all at once is hard and sometimes you can’t have it all. She talks about how as Barack’s career takes off she struggled to hold on to everything she loved. Its also extremely affirming to know that even someone like Michelle Obama can’t escape the struggles that women face. She also brings to light that just because a woman isn’t having it all does not imply that she’s failing. This truly changed the way I look at feminism and made me question what it truly means to be a feminist. I’m still working on getting an answer to that.
Above all else, this isn’t a book about politics but of hope and empowerment. This is a book about a wonderful woman and man who occupied one of the most powerful offices in the world and at every opportunity tried to do the right thing. Hence, showing the world that there is hope in working towards a world that is better than the one we live in today. The Obamas are not perfect but they give us something to aspire for. Michelle Obama embraced everything that was offered to her with grace and dignity, even when the going got tough. By saying, “There’s power in allowing yourself to be known and heard, in owning your unique story, in using your authentic voice. And there’s grace in being willing to know and hear others. This, for me, is how we become.”, Michelle encourages us to find our voice and not doubt the power in our own story and its ability to inspire others. Ending this post with this quote that can serve as a beacon on what we can work towards.
Let’s invite one another in. Maybe then we can begin to fear less, to make fewer wrong assumptions, to let go of the biases and stereotypes that unnecessarily divide us.