I am an ordinary person who found herself on an extraordinary journey. And sharing my story I hope to help create space for other stories and other voices, to widen the pathway for who belongs and whyMichelle Obama
It’s time for the famous Becoming, an autobiography of Michelle Obama.
The fact that Becoming became a best-selling book in only two weeks after launching illustrates how much people adore Michelle Obama better than anything else can.
I knew that a memoir was a place where people got personal, but I didn’t know that you could get this personal like how Michelle did in her book.
To me, Michelle always came across as a self-possessed and confident person. Like whatever comes, she’ll know what to do kind of person. I thought she was the kind of woman who’s always on top of things, who would segway from duty to duty smoothly, and kept the perfect balance of work and family at all times.
I’d never thought she too could have her own insecurities or uncertainties. She looked so tough and strong, it’s like I wasn’t even sure if Michelle Obama had ever cried before.
But she turned out to be as normal as any other woman could be. And she wasn’t afraid to show it. That’s what makes Becoming totally worthwhile.
As a child, had you or had you not ever been asked this question:
What do you want to be when you grow up?
Michelle told Oprah on Super Soul Conversation, that this frequently asked question bothered her. In her opinion, the question suggests that a child is ought to know what his dream is, like it is a finite thing. Michelle herself though, rather considers that in life, one is supposedly confronted with an endless phases of becoming someone or something.
Hence the title, Becoming.
In the book, Michelle sort of divides her hitherto life journey into three big chapters, Becoming Me, Becoming Us, and Becoming More.
In the first chapter, Becoming Me, the message that I suppose Michelle is trying to get across is how her childhood life was not much different to ours. That she comes from a family that is similar to ours.
I was particularly taken aback when I read about the time when Michelle stopped being a lawyer after she realized that that kind of life wasn’t for her. First of all, I didn’t know that she stopped being a lawyer at all. And second of all I had no idea that she took herself as a person who wasn’t cut out for lawyer-life. And I thought achieving that level of career she must have had relished it. How little did I know about her before this book really?
I was also astonished knowing that she was once living a life driven by the ambition of checking boxes and powered by a thing as cliché as money. I really wasn’t expecting that from her at all.
Anyway, after that.
Having overcome a load of hesitation, she eventually resigned from being a lawyer when she was almost 30 years old. That decision alone, at that kind of age, deserves an applause. And she only got more courageous from that moment on. She subsequently started working for a semi non-profit organization which should have been sort of her dream job. But then, not having the income she needed became another problem. How did she react then? Just go read the book. #winkwink
The hope is I guess, through this part of her life she would inspire us not to balk on a change, no matter how drastic it is. Instead, having regrets is what we should be afraid of.
Michelle has been answering the same question with the same answer over and over again, yet the very question is still hovering around us. When will Michelle run for president?
In the second section, Becoming Us, Michelle seems hoping to finally put this inquiry to rest once and for all.
And her answer still remains unchanged. It’s Never.
Us expecting Michelle to be the next president means also that we undermine completely the complexity and the tangible risks of politics. Most of us don’t understand politics well, yet we are anticipating Michelle to be involved in something that she understands very well yet can’t stand it.
Michelle’s ordinary life stopped when she replaced the Robinson in her name with Obama. Michelle couldn’t possibly explain it better than she did in her memoir, how marrying the Barack Obama had made a normal life simply no longer attainable.
Barack Obama was born different. He was born to lead a big change.
And the only reason Michelle agreeing Barack to run was because she couldn’t bear to be the one to stop him, to hinder him. She couldn’t help but feel small juxtaposed with the intensity of people’s hopes and the prospect of what the man was capable of doing.
Politics was her compromise, her sacrifice.
To be someone’s wife is essentially a sacrifice of identity. To let everyone including countless non-deserving ones judge your life at all times is a sacrifice of normality. And to let your kids be exposed to the harm of politics is too big of a sacrifice that not everyone can make.
Thereby, she was somehow waiting it to be over someday. And it finally did.
Up to this point, we have been served with Michelle’s sides of story that we weren’t aware before. But now that we are at the brink of the end, it turns out, we also have some things that we’ve already known all along.
Like the fact that she is a best friend material.
Becoming is one of her ways to reach out to people. Sharing her story, it seems that she is hoping we could get the idea that life is pretty much the same to her as it to us. That she also fights the same battle as ours. That in a way, we are never alone in our fights.
While I was listening to her narration of the book, I couldn’t help but picture Michelle and us girls in a den where we were keenly listening to her telling her life story.
And as if she was really our friend, she was empowering us through her narrative.
I hope you enjoyed this post, and see you next week!