“For me, becoming isn’t about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. I see it instead as forward motion, a means of evolving, a way to reach continuously toward a better self. The journey doesn’t end.”- Michelle Obama
Hi everyone! I am officially welcoming you to a new year with this blog post. I was a bit reluctant to do a blog post on “Becoming” as almost every lady I know is currently reading this amazing book and I felt there was no one else to address. I had a rethink when I also remembered that not everyone has the luxury of time to actually read such a voluminous book. I have also been screaming “I am becoming” all over the house , so this blog post would serve as a release of some sort.
Becoming gave me a peek into Michelle’s journey right from the South Side of Chicago to the White House. She wrote about her childhood experiences, her family, her relationship with Barack, her career switch, the effects of Barack’s venture into politics, her kids and her life as FLOTUS. It is a bare-it-all kind of book and it felt like I was having tea with Michelle while listening to her talk about herself.
I would write briefly (or not) on what I learnt from reading this amazing book.
- The right environment matters: Michelle’s parents were not privileged or rich, even though they worked hard to ensure that they were able to provide their kids’ basic needs. Michelle’s mom always had a listening ear when her kids had to talk/rant about anything and she always had the right words to say to them. She had a father that was truly present in her life.It was not just about the words, they also backed it up with action. As a family, they bonded over dinner and shared great moments. For every achievement, her parents were always there to cheer her on. Michelle acknowledged that her parents’ training helped shape her mindset. This goes to show that parents have an obligation to ensure that children grow up surrounded with love.
- Your background does not determine your future: Some are lucky, they come from wealth. They are able to chase their dreams without major challenges, because there is MONEY and INFLUENCE! However, you would agree with me that there is a large percentage of successful people who grew up with next to nothing and somehow, they were able to achieve their dreams. Michelle was determined to be better than her parents and grandparents. She knew she owed herself that much and she pushed herself HARD. One of the reasons why she is so passionate about education is because education was the only platform she had to chase her dreams. Education gave her the opportunity to live the life she could only read about in books. Don’t underestimate whatever platform you have, maximize it.
- There is no general definition of success: Michelle always thought that she had to prove a point to people and that played a major role in deciding her career path. After years of practicing corporate law, she met Barack Obama and her perspective about life changed. Even though she earned a handsome amount and she “seemed” successful, her relationship with Barack Obama made her question some of her life choices and she realized that her career path didn’t make her feel fulfilled. She made a U-turn by resigning from the law firm and went ahead to pursue a career in public service, that way she was able to make major impact on people. Her career switch also meant a big slash in the amount she earned but she had a fulfilling job and that was all that mattered to her. Doing a job that she loved while being a wife and a mother of two was her definition of success. It is okay to change your mind concerning your career, it is okay to feel a bit confused and it is never too late to make a switch.
- Your life partner might not come in shining armour: Michelle was Barack’s superior at the law firm where they met. He literally had nothing apart from his dreams and she had to look beyond how he looked when she made a choice to stick with him. Barack was everything she was not. Barack was a smoker, he was not organized, he didn’t come from a family like hers and he didn’t care so much about making money. He was however very principled, had integrity, was positive minded and had a heart for people. They both had to make compromises to fit into each other’s lives. Even though Michelle knew that they might never be rich, she knew that the growth she had experienced since meeting Barack was worth more than money.
- Family always comes FIRST: Michelle and Barack have always been busy people especially with Barack’s venture into politics and Michelle’s very demanding job. However, their jobs/interests always came second in the grand scheme of things. Whenever a decision had to be made, the family’s interest was always prioritized. Michelle recounted carrying her four-month old baby to an interview at University of Chicago Medical Center, not minding what her interviewer thought. As their girls grew older, Michelle and Barack ensured that they maximized family time to catch up on every aspect of their daughters’ lives. Being busy is not an excuse to neglect your family’s needs.
- You are good enough: Michelle grew up with confidence but underneath all that confidence, was the fear that she was not good enough. Frequently she would ask herself “am I good enough” and go right ahead to prove that she was indeed good enough for anything she chooses to do. Being a black girl from the south side of Chicago meant that she always had to throw in her weight and work twice as hard to prove her doubters wrong. In high school, a college counselor once told her she didn’t think she was “Princeton material” but she applied anyway and got in. At Princeton university, she realized she was just as smart as other people, despite what she was made to believe. There would always be a still small voice reminding us of our inadequacies but our job is to silence it while smashing our goals.
Becoming is a book I would recommend for every lady out there. Stop sulking and regretting why you were born into a certain family, when you have the power to change the narrative. The major lesson in this book is that you can achieve your dreams even without wealth or “connections”, if only you are willing to work hard.
You can buy either the hard copy or the audio book here. Please do well to grab a copy!
If you have read it, what did you learn?
P:S: Better grab a dictionary alongside this book, you would surely be needing it.
“I’ve been lucky enough now in my life to meet all sorts of extraordinary and accomplished people. … What I’ve learned is this: All of them have had doubters.”-Michelle Obama