Becoming Michelle Obama – 5 Lessons and Quotes

Who inspired you the most and why? My answer to that I’d simple, Michelle Obama inspired me because she’s intelligent (went to a gifted school, is a lawyer turned university professor that promotes studying and learning for fun) benevolent (involved in countless initiatives for the less-fortunate populations and played a big role in getting affordable produce in WalMarts) and well-spoken (Melania trump knows this fact very well).

Michelle Obama also carries herself with grace and confidence that I strive to reach one day. 3 people have told me I look like her and it’s brought a smile to my face that’s hard to shake because her kind of beauty is mixed with a striking grace and warmth that I hope people feel around me.

Looks aside, in her memoir, Becoming she brilliantly showcases her storytelling mastery by sharing important lessons she’s learned along the years. I’ve chosen 5 that stuck with me, along with the corresponding quotes, and here they are

Inspiration on its own was shallow; you had to back it up with hard work.

Becoming – Michelle Obama

1 – Be more than inspired

As someone that reads a ton of non-fiction books and is addicted to self-improvement and personal development, I have to say that this first lesson here was a wake up call of sorts. I’m notorious for taking copious amounts of notes and sharing a lot of inspirational content on my Instagram page however in Becoming, Michelle Obama challenges readers to walk the walk. Inspiration is nice and all but it takes an enormous amount of hard work to achieve your goals and you should always pair your beautiful inspiration with your strong hard work ethic. A goal without a plan is nothing but a dream after all. I needed this reminder.

Failure is a feeling long before it’s an actual result. It’s vulnerability that breeds with self-doubt and then us escalated often deliberately by fear.

Becoming – Michelle Obama

2 – The downside of vulnerability

Vulnerability seems to be a buzzword thanks to incredible speakers and writers such as Brené Brown, we’ve come to understand it as less of a weakness, more of a human connection superpower. Michelle Obama was raised in a “not so nice” part of town in Chicago. Predominantly African-American residents made it disfavored as well as far as city funding went. That being said however there were strong community leaders and educators that ensured the kids were well-educated and inspired and in her case, it worked like a charm. An example from Becoming is her school principal, Dr. Lavizzo who responded to an article in the paper that spoke about “the ghetto mentality” in a diminutive way while referring to their part of town. The above-mentioned quote came from him and really marked Michelle. It’s the change agents that aren’t afraid to speak to when they’re being spoken for that empower others to do the same.

Not enough. Not enough. It was doubt about where I came from and where I do believe about myself until now. It was like a malignant cells that threaten to divide and divide again until I could find somebody to stop it.

Becoming – Michelle Obama

3 – Self-doubt doesn’t serve you.

In Becoming, Michelle Obama shares of the important one have to do to overcome self-doubt. This weather is absolutely paramount to ones success because self-doubt will not serve us, it will only make us feel smaller and smaller until there’s not much of us left. When you admire someone as much as I admire Michelle, it really hits home to learn that even they experience self-doubt and that nobody is immune. Despite that however, she persisted and became a lawyer and educator and First Lady and then mother. All of which took overcoming self-doubt over and over again with a relentless will for more.

But my first months at Whitney Young gave me a glimpse of something that had previously been invisible — the apparatus of privilege and connection, what seemed like a network of half-hidden ladders and guide ropes that lay suspended overhead, ready to connect some but not all of us to the sky.

Becoming – Michelle Obama

4 – The haves and the have nots.

In the above quote, Michelle Obama is referring to the school that she was transferred to due to her exceptional grades. This school, Whitney Young was for the smartest kids in the city, and her commute totaled 3 full hours to get there and back. As a first generation college graduate, this reminds me of the feeling I felt when going to college. Hearing some of my classmates and teammates say things like “my mom pays for my gas, and groceries and rent”. While I had to work full-time on top of being a full-time student and a varsity athlete to barely make ends meet. It was difficult to realize how I wasn’t a part of the norm, I was definitely considered “poor” despite not feeling deprivation growing up. Visiting home was visiting a place in a neighborhood that was less nice than the student home I was living in. This resonated with me because like Michelle Obama, I used this realization to fuel me in school. It’s nice when you have things in common with someone as accomplished as she’s been in life. It fills me with hope for my own future despite the circumstances I was brought up in.

It was safe to be smart. The assumption was that everyone was working towards college, which meant that you never hid your intelligence for fear of someone saying that you talked like a white girl.

Becoming – Michelle Obama

5 – The other kind of smart

Michelle Obama touches on another phenomena that hits close to home with me. I’ve always been a bookworm growing up but it hasn’t always been “cool” and as an insecure teenager looking for my place, I often hid the fact that I was smart. I even acted out in class sometimes because I felt like I had something to prove. I remember when I got caught and my act was up. My philosophy teacher not only gave me a perfect score on an essay, he had me read a part of it in front of the whole class thus revealing that I was in fact a giant nerd. Nobody cared. My friends didn’t pay attention (if they were even in class that day) was it didn’t change a thing. I remember this feeling of giving myself permission to be my nerdy book- loving self and raising my hand in class and even sitting in the front row (to the detriment of many behind me because I’m an Amazon woman). It felt like true liberation, to celebrate my thirst for knowledge and natural curiosity and “intelligence”.

Essentially, the things I loved most about this book is how much of myself I saw in her life story. I knew there was something about Michelle Obama that I couldn’t put my finger on, but it made me feel a deep connection to her. Every time she speaks I lean in and get goosebumps. She is an example of what I can become if I don’t succumb to self-doubt and don’t play small to make people more comfortable.

Thank you Michelle Obama.

I highly recommend Becoming!


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