This week I had the pleasure of losing myself in a great book. It has been so long since I gave myself the opportunity to read endlessly for days, this was a book that I simply couldn't put down. "Becoming" by Michelle Obama is a amazing tale about an amazing woman. I felt so empowered while reading, I hope you'll pick up this novel if you haven't already.
"Even when it's not pretty or perfect. Even when it's more real than you want it to be. Your story is what you have, what you will always have. It is something you own"
From the beginning pages, I already knew I was reading a touching story. I am so happy that Michelle decided to open up and share her story. The quote above was simple yet powerful, we each have a story to tell. I think about this when I meet a stranger, pondering about their story. What I learned from this book is how there can be similarities in people's stories.
I've always looked up to Michelle Obama. I was still living in St. Maarten, years away from becoming a US citizen when Barack Obama was elected. Even from miles away on a small island I knew how monumental this moment was, the first black president. I remember how my family celebrated, even though St. Maarten is not an American territory, what happened in the US still had some effect to us. America is a huge and powerful country, I went to an American-based school and so I learned US history. I'd heard the stories of Martin Luther King Jr, about segregation, racism, and I knew that this was something monumental. It gave me hope.
Me in the White House in 2014
Years later, during Obama's second term, I became a US citizen and the presidential family had more of an effect on me. I was in my sophomore year and my second year in the country when I had the great privilege of visiting the White House and being in the same room as the great Michelle Obama herself. I loved how educated and graceful she was, I felt so inspired just to be in her presence. A few years later, I used one of her quotes as my senior year quote: "Always stay true to yourself and never let what someone else says distract you from your goals."
As I opened up the pages and began to read, I was surprised at how relatable she was. She talked about her childhood, describing the small apartment her family shared which reminded me a lot about how I grew up. She talked about her determination and how she wouldn't let herself fail even from Kindergarten and that reminded me of my goal to get on Honor Roll since I was 6 years old. She talked about her love for Barbies which I loved too. The way she felt she needed control and organization in her life, and how we both plan out every hour of the day. It's an interesting feeling to feel like you relate to the Former First Lady of the United States, but that's why I love Michelle Obama.
"If in high school I'd felt as if I were representing my neighborhood, now I was at Princeton I was representing my race. Anytime I found my voice in class or nailed an exam, I quietly hoped it helped make a large point"
Something Michelle didn't shy away from in this album is her experience as a black woman in America. She talked about the many rooms she walked into in which there was no one else that looked like her. This is something that so many black girls, including myself, experience, but to hear the former First Lady describe how she overcame these challenges really showed me that we can all succeed. She did many things to help uplift other people of color, something I thrive to do now and hope to do in the future.
"I wanted to live with the hat-tossing, independent- career-woman zest of Mary Tyler Moore, and at the same time I gravitated toward the stabilizing, self-sacrificing, seemingly bland normalcy of being a wife and mother."
A large part of the novel is about her relationship with Barack and becoming a wife and mother. While I'm still some years away from this part of my life I still related to her. I have so many goals for myself, big huge goals that I don't want to sacrifice. But I also want to be a wife in a loving marriage and have multiple kids and be an active mother. Some days I really wonder if I would be able to have it all- even now in college I've been struggling to balance my relationship with the demands of school, could I have the ideal future I dream of?
Michelle went through the same struggles, she wanted her career and she wanted her ideal home life. She talked about all the ways she tried to make it all work, and the sacrifices that we're made. Even though I haven't entered that part of my life yet, I felt comfort in the fact that she made it work and in this crazy world things always seem to work out in someway or another.
"When they go low, we go high"
In life we deal with people who want to tear us down and Michelle being in the eye of the whole world had to deal with this on a scale that I luckily won't. She showed me how to keep grace, how to be yourself, and how not to go down to their level. It is always best to stay high!
Life as the first family wasn't always easy, but Michelle focused on the privilege that she had in that position. I try to do this when going through hard times too, to focus on all the good surrounding me.
While reading I laughed, I cried, I learned, I related, the emotions were endless. I am so happy that she shared her story with all of us. Even though I knew the Obama's would win I still felt the nervousness while reading about the moment. Her story just sucks you in and puts you back in time to those moments. I recommend this book to everyone, but especially to my black girls out there! When you read it let me know what you think, what we're your favorite quotes?
Until next time,