I’ve been listening to “Becoming” by Michelle Obama on Audible for a couple of months now. The audiobook is 19 hours long, and I would listen whenever I could — at the gym, in the car, while cleaning. I mentioned in a recent post that I found it to be motivating. Regardless of politics, it’s inspiring to see a woman from the South Side of Chicago becoming an accomplished career woman, mother and first lady. I learned a lot from her story about life in general, the city of Chicago and living in the White House. I’d like to share some of those lessons and my thoughts on her book.
- Obama talks about being asked as a child what she wanted to be when she grew up, “as if growing up is finite.” She calls it one of the most useless questions one can ask a child. I had never thought it of it that way before, but I agree that you don’t have to grow up to be just one thing. You can change and keep growing. You can be many different things.
- When it comes to motherhood, she talks about the stretching and contracting of time that we all experience. She talks about her need to put family first and have flexibility in her work. (She even brought Sasha to a job interview!) She talks about the inherent “unfairness” of motherhood and how she was caught up in that hypothesis. She shifted her thoughts to allow herself to be in charge of her happiness. She stopped resenting that her husband could fit working out into his schedule, for example, and instead learned to make herself a priority, too. In my current phase of life this part of the book resonated the most with me. I have learned recently that it’s important to articulate my needs and stop putting myself last at all times. I’ve learned to give myself credit for the small victories, too.
- There’s more than one way to be American. We belong. Dare to tell your story. “I loved my country for all the ways its story could be told,” she writes, reflecting on her last days in the White House. This is a reminder that all of our stories are important and should be heard.
- Don’t allow yourself to become cynical. If you only pay attention to negative news it’s easy to lose faith. Optimism is the antidote to fear, she says.
The most powerful reminder for me in her book: “Becoming is never giving up on the idea that there’s more growing to be done.”
Have you read (or listened to) “Becoming”? What did you think?