Book Notes: Becoming By Michelle Obama.
“I think it’s one of the useless questions an adult can ask a child – What do you want to be when you grow up? As if growing up is finite. As if at some point you become something and that’s the end.”
From the first pages of the book, it was clear that Michelle Obama's Becoming is more than just a memoir.
While Obama's memoir offers an intimate view of her upbringing on the south side of Chicago and the highs and lows of her life, it is also a deep reflection on embracing change and continuous growth as she moves from one role into another. In the preface of her autobiography, Obama states:
“So far in my life, I’ve been a lawyer. I’ve been a vice president at a hospital and the director of a nonprofit that helps young people build meaningful careers. I’ve been a working-class black student at a fancy mostly white college. I’ve been the only woman, the only African American, in all sorts of rooms. I’ve been a bride, a stressed-out new mother, a daughter torn up by grief. And until recently, I was the First Lady of the United States of America—a job that’s not officially a job, but that nonetheless has given me a platform like nothing I could have imagined. It challenged me and humbled me, lifted me up and shrank me down, sometimes all at once. I’m just beginning to process what took place over these last years—from the moment in 2006 when my husband first started talking about running for president to the cold morning this winter when I climbed into a limo with Melania Trump, accompanying her to her husband’s inauguration. It’s been quite a ride."
Michelle Obama is inspirational, and there are many life lessons learned from the reading.
One key takeaway that stood out for me through her memoir is that self-discovery is a continuous journey. Her story encourages self-acceptance, growth, being open to redefining yourself and, most importantly, becoming your best self in every or any situation.
Michelle Obama drives the message about continuous growth by ending her memoir with:
“At fifty-four, I am still in progress, and I hope that I will always be.
For me, becoming isn’t about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. I see it instead as a forward motion, a means of evolving, a way to reach continuously toward a better self…”
A great reminder that we are constantly evolving and have the opportunity to renew our goals, enhance our purpose, and that we can be or do better regardless of age.
Other key takeaways from Becoming:
- Focus on achieving your goals but be ready to pivot.
- Don’t let others define you.
- Spend time building relationships with the people that matter, support and believe in you.
- If you want to make a change, take action.
- Learn to ignore doubters.
- “I realize that kids know at a very young age when they’re being devalued, when adults aren’t invested enough to help them learn. Their anger over it can manifest into unruliness. It’s hardly their fault. They aren’t “bad kids”. They’re just trying to survive bad circumstances.”
- “What I’ve learned is this: All of them had doubters. Some continue to have roaring, stadium-sized collections of critics and naysayers who will shout I told you so at every little misstep or mistake. The noise doesn’t go away, but the most successful people I know have figured out how to live with it, to lean on the people who believe them, and to push them onward with the goals.”
- “Do we settle for the world as it is, or do we work for the world as it should be.”
- “Inspiration on its own was shallow; you had to back it up with hard work.”
- “If you don’t get out there to define yourself, you’ll be quickly and inaccurately defined by others.”
- “In my life, I’ve heard plenty of empty words coming from important people, lip service paid during times of crisis with no action to follow. I was determined to be someone who told the truth, using my voice to lift up the voiceless when I could, and to not disappear on people in need.”