“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, “Becoming”
In May, I was blessed with the opportunity to go hear Michelle Obama speak during her book tour for “Becoming” in Montreal with my mom and my sister-in-love too! (Shoutout to mom for letting me borrow the audio book. It was clutch to be able to listen while at my second job because I didn’t know how I was gonna make it through 400 pages before we went to see her lol). It was a packed house of 20,000 people, all coming for their love of an incredible woman and first lady.
She mentioned how she was often teased for “talking white.” How she dealt with insecurities about not being good enough. How her counselor told her she wasn’t Princeton material and that she should set her sights lower (I been there too!). How she went through being “the only poppy in sea of oatmeal” just like me being The Only Chocolate Chip in the Cookie. How her parents expected her to get what they knew they could have, but didn’t, to go further than they did, to have more. How her dad suffered the later years of his sickness in silence, not speaking up earlier when he noticed something being wrong with his body (I went through that with my grandma. The older generation doesn’t like to talk about their health issues. I could go in about this but that’s a post for another day). How she was brought up in a family where everyone ALWAYS showed up, so when someone didn’t she’d get extra let down. Closeness was a necessity for her, As it is for me! She talked about how her work at the hospital essentially was to decrease Emergency Room visits and increase preventive care measures (the same work I’m doing!). How she was “a box checker achiever” (that’s definitely me!). When she spoke I saw myself.
The power of representation is everything. Seeing someone who looked like me, sounds like me, dresses fly like me (lol) on stage in front of a packed arena, speaking about her life and sharing words of wisdom….made me feel hopeful. Made me feel like that could be me one day. Or my mom. Or my sister. Or even my little niecey pooh. It made me feel like I could literally do anything. And I was proud, like she was part of my family and WE made it!
My Key Take Aways from the Book and Her Talk:
- The reality still is that we, as African Americans and as Woman, have to be twice as good to go half as far.
- “Failing is a feeling long before it becomes an actual result. It is fueled by fear.”
- “Most women crave stability, security, and affection. Most men don’t!”
- We have to take an effort to “put positive energy into kids lives. We as adults have a responsibility. Everything we say, can lift them up or [send] them down.”
- “Don’t be afraid to try things out. Being flexible is a necessary skill.”
- “The angry black woman stereotype is seen as a threat because she is vocal, strong opinioned, and bossy. All said to blow out the flame of a woman’s voice.”
- “Death catapults you to the realization that life is precious.”
- Marriage is tough. We have to talk about the dips and valleys. We have to talk about the days where you may not like your partner. We have to talk about it to debunk the myth that marriage is perfect and will solve all problems. We have to talk about what it takes to make it work. We have to start making it work.
- Life goes on whether the man shows up or not. You don’t have to wait.
- Prioritize life
- PRACTICE SELF CARE! IT’S IMPORTANT!
Thank you Mrs. Michelle for being your authentically amazing self. Thank you for sharing your story. Thank you for showing that you can have an identify outside of just being a wife to your husband. Thank you for proving that we don’t have to choose between being a mom and being successful in the workforce. Thank you for showing that it’s OK to be a strong, opinionated Black woman and that we don’t have to stifle our voice. Thank you for being a bomb a** First Lady. Thank you for publicly going high when they go low! Thank you for being the epitome of a Black Girl who Rocks.