Oh, to be even half the woman that Michelle Obama is – the grace, the wisdom, the maturity. She will always be an inspiration and a role model to me. There was a point in my life where I was just obsessed with her that I stayed up trying to scour YouTube for all her speeches and appearances. I was in awe at how she easily exudes this grace and inner strength, despite revealing her heart and emotions, over and over. Never have I seen a more charismatic first lady in my life. So I was so glad when she released this memoir (which I gotta say, was pretty hard to get a physical copy of upon its first release) – and I know I gotta have it.
Divided into three parts: Becoming Me, Becoming Us, and Becoming More. Becoming narrates her life from her childhood, growing up in the south side of Chicago, coming into her own as a young professional, meeting her eventual husband, assuming the role of being FLOTUS, and becoming a mother. I loved how this book focused more on “her” life before being the FLOTUS. I’ve heard her somewhere mentioning that “So little of who I am happened in those eight years. SO much more of who I was happened before.” You know, I wouldn’t be surprised (and I wouldn’t mind that much) if she capitalized on that role more since it was a really important event in her life. But this focused on her, as it should be.
This book contained so much wisdom and inspiration for me – and is a book that I hold very close to my heart. Her insights on womanhood, ambition, family, and education are testament to how amazing Michelle Obama is as a person. Throughout her story, she emphasized compassion and the importance of education in one’s life. Seldom do I enjoy reading memoirs but there was something special in how Michelle was able to transform her journey into something relatable on so many levels. I can’t count how many times I got emotional reading this.
“It hurts to live after someone has died. It just does. It can hurt to walk down a hallway or a open the fridge. It hurts to put on a pair of socks, to brush your teeth. Food tastes like nothing. Colors go flat. Music hurts, and so do memories. You look at something you’d otherwise find beautiful – a purple sky at sunset or a playground full of kids and it only somehow deepens the loss. Grief is so lonely this way.”
On grief. Grief is not something you would know how to talk about unless you experience it yourself, I discovered over the years. And the passages that explores her feelings, especially when her dad died? I was a mess. The emotion in Michelle’s voice narrating the lead up to her father’s death was some of the most emotionally charged minutes of my experience reading this.
“Confidence, I’d learned then, sometimes needs to be called from within. I’ve repeated the same words to myself so many times now, through many climbs. Am I good enough? Yes I am.”
On self-empowerment. In a way, it’s a brilliant coming-of-age story that should be read by anyone, especially young women who are trying to find their place in this world. Her journey towards self-discovery, and how she emphasizes that she is a work-in-progress at all of these stages, gives me so much boost.
I also loved her take on coming into one’s own, her independence, how she instills profound lessons in the littlest of ways to her daughters, like not letting her daughters wait up for Barrack to join them for dinner in times when he’s late due to work (“I didn’t want them ever to believe that life began when the man of the house arrived home.“). Malia and Sasha are so lucky to have such a mom.
“It was possible that I was more in charge of my happiness than I was allowing myself to be.”
Overall, Becoming is one of the most important pieces of literature that I’ve read ever, personally. Superb writing and brilliant narration. I listened to this one through Audible and it was such an experience. (I wish she would narrate more books from here on.) Hearing Michelle Obama narrating it though makes it hundred-folds worth it.
Got get a copy, read it (listen to is), and be inspired.
“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.”
“At fifty-four, I am still in progress, and I hope that I always will be.”
“Failure is a feeling long before it becomes an actual result. It’s vulnerability that breeds with self-doubt and then is escalated, often deliberately, by fear.”
“Now I think it’s one of the most useless questions an adult can ask a child—What do you want to be when you grow up? As if growing up is finite. As if at some point you become something and that’s the end.”
“Even if we didn’t know the context, we were instructed to remember that context existed. Everyone on earth, they’d tell us, was carrying around an unseen history, and that alone deserved some tolerance.”
“When it came to the home-for-dinner dilemma, I installed new boundaries, ones that worked better for me and the girls. We made our schedule and stuck to it. …It went back to my wishes for them to grow up strong and centered and also unaccommodating to any form of old-school patriarchy: I didn’t want them ever to believe that life began when the man of the house arrived home. We didn’t wait for Dad. It was his job now to catch up with us.”