Oct 27, 2020

'Becoming' by Michelle Obama.


- stronger yet more compassionate
- a student of the world before you
- more dignified and resolute despite the adversity
- confident to simply be who you are
- comfortable to change and learn constantly
- a motivator for those that come after you, to show them what is possible for every American
- contented within yourself.

Just some of the actions and messages I've come away with from 'Becoming.'

My time with Michelle Obama as she narrated her memoir, 'Becoming', has sadly come to an end.  Listening along was like a Sunday afternoon with dear friends.  A sharing of your personal version of the issues common to women of a certain age.  Laughter, tears, nods as you find yourself relating precisely to what your friend is describing.  The tempering of that emotional range with favourite beverages and food of the deep-fried variety.

The poised, considered and heartfelt words of this humble woman have been a constant companion of mine over the last few weeks.  I've listened to her voice on Audible as I've commuted to work and back - attempting my own, far less complex juggle of the worlds Michelle had to keep in the air in her time as First Lady.  

I learned much about myself as I listened.  At times, it felt like I was telling her my story - rather than the other way around.

The Former First Lady readily admits that politics was not her thing when Barack first told her of his plan to run for President of the United States.  She concludes 'Becoming' with the same thought.  Despite the power and influence bestowed on her.  Despite being the change in so many aspects of American life.  Despite the trappings and privilege of living in the highest house in the land.

It is the journey between these points that 'Becoming' is about.  Growing and changing in the areas of life where these are needed while still knowing yourself and staying true to this.

Long time readers will know this already.  I'm not a history or politics person.  I was worried, at first, that this would make 'Becoming' hard going for me.  Fortunately, the history and politics discussed served to provide context for the memories and events that Michelle shared in the book.

The 'optics' of political life was explored without breathless name dropping or gush.  Life defining meetings the former First Lady shared had a purpose in delivering her message that wasn't about provoking awe or envy in her readers.  Yes, she does write about meeting The Queen of England and Nelson Mandela but her commentary here is economical, sticking to the facts with an amusing anecdote or two.  The most powerful reflections are saved for the 'everyday' people she met as First Lady.  The war veterans and their families, the students from underprivileged backgrounds whom she helped inspire, the families of those lost to gun violence on US soil.

I will admit right now that my favourite passages from 'Becoming' relate to what life in The White House was like.  Followed closely by Michelle's brutally honest writing about struggling with infertility then life as a working mother and her steady love for her family through the ups and downs they faced together.

And that's what made 'Becoming' such an enriching read for me.  That emphasis on 'together'.  How being united, whether it be within a family, an organization or a nation makes each of us stronger and better.

Have you read or listened to 'Becoming'?  Did it move you more than you expected it to?

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