Our 44th first lady wrote a memoir that has inspired us all; Becoming by Michelle Obama became the best-selling book of 2018 and according to Elle.com, sold 725,000 copies on its release day! Becoming is an honest and genuine autobiography inviting us into Michelle’s most intimate and memorable life moments that have shaped the woman she is today. It’s admirable to see someone of her stature be so open to sharing her tribulations and vulnerabilities with us in order to inspire and relate. Forget the fact that maybe you didn’t vote for her husband, instead, open your mind to see past left sides versus right sides because this book has nothing to do with politics.
It’s about an American woman who, in my opinion, fought throughout her life and continues to fight for the woman she wants to become. Through college, a marriage, children and sacrificing her career to allow her husband’s career to take center stage; Michelle’s story takes you on a journey of strength, hardship, ambition, and perseverance. I’d recommend this book to women who may feel a little lost at times and confused about their life path. It’s a very comforting and relatable memoir that opens your eyes to see that the path to success (whatever that means to you) doesn’t always feel or look the way you think. I feel so inspired to do more for myself and others and was reassured that listening to your intuition is always the right way to go.
Here are three important lessons I learned from “Becoming” along with my personal takeaways from each lesson:
THE LESSON ON SWERVING:
Michelle writes about how she reveled at the fact that people around her were impressed by her career trajectory of becoming a lawyer. When she told people she was to attend Harvard law school and saw how it impressed them, it made her feel good about herself and was reassured she was making the right career choice because of their praises. Later in life, she found herself unhappy being a lawyer because she never allowed herself to swerve or explore other options outside of the lane she and others imagined would lead her to a “perfect” life. Eventually, she swerved, which led her to quit practicing law, take a pay cut and start working with a non-profit organization, which in turn gave her a more fulfilling life.
BOOK EXCERPT: “This may be the fundamental problem with caring a lot about what others think: It can put you on the established path–the my-isn’t-that-impressive path–and keep you there for a long time. Maybe it stops you from swerving, from ever even considering a swerve, because what you risk losing in terms of other people’s high regard can feel too costly.”
MY TAKEAWAY: Swerving out of your perfectly pre-planned lane is a healthy uncertain path we must explore in order to see what other options life can offer us. Staying in a path that feels comfortable enough to live in but not truly fulfilling because you don’t want to disappoint others or their expectations of you is an unhealthy way to live. It’s understandable that you don’t want to swerve because you don’t want to admit to others and yourself that you’ve been on the wrong path your entire life until this point, but as Michelle stated in her book “Life is short and not to be wasted. If I died, I didn’t want people remembering me for the stacks of legal briefs I’d written or the corporate trademarks I’d helped defend. I felt certain that I had something more to offer the world.”
THE LESSON ON ADAPTING:
It’s no secret that Michelle and Barack’s marriage has been deemed #relationshipgoals on social media, so I was eager and excited to get to the part where she shared some insight on her marriage and how they make it work with all the outside pressures like the media and public scrutiny. I was not disappointed; one word stood out to me: A-D-A-P-T! Although Michelle is a strong, career-driven woman with visions and goals of her own, there came a time in her marriage where she had to decide to take a step back from her own ambitions and let her husband’s career flourish in politics. She realized that the choice of letting his career take center stage was for the greater good at the time, and she adapted with her new circumstance while still doing work she loved but in a smaller scale.
BOOK EXCERPT: “What happens when a solitude-loving individualist marries an outgoing family woman who does not love solitude one bit? The answer, I’m guessing, is probably the best and most sustaining answer to nearly every question arising inside a marriage, no matter who you are or what the issue is: You find ways to adapt. If you’re in it forever, there’s really no choice.”
MY TAKEAWAY: In the book, Michelle doesn’t flat out give you marriage advice but she does paint a picture of what it takes to sustain a successful marriage, and sometimes that means stepping back and playing the part of the supporter while your husband shines in his moment. I think sometimes modern women have this vision in their head that in order for a wife to be seen as equal in a marriage she shouldn’t allow herself to take a step back and play the role of the supporter, for fear of conforming to those dated views of a woman’s place in a household or not wanting to look weak in a marriage. I believe that if a man understands the sacrifice a woman is making and reciprocates that same intention when his time comes to step back and play the supporting role, then that’s being equal in a marriage. Adapting to every circumstance that comes your way for the greater good of the marriage is crucial to make it work, even if it sometimes means taking a temporary step back.
THE LESSON ON BECOMING:
Throughout the book, Michelle takes us through the different stages of her life, showing us how each stage of her life requires a different version of her. It’s evident how she evolves with every life experience, challenge, and hardship. She writes that the next chapter in her life, post first lady, will require a new her as she shares her hopes for the future while reminding us that you never forget where you came from by taking all the lessons you’ve learned to all your future endeavors. The story of you remains the same, but the person you become is constantly evolving.
BOOK EXCERPT: “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.”
“Becoming requires equal parts patience and rigor. Becoming is never giving up on the idea that there’s more growing to be done.”
MY TAKEAWAY: One doesn’t simply become one way and stay there, you are constantly becoming someone new until the day you leave this earth. The way I see it is if you are a totally different person from the time you were born to the time you die, you did well because every new challenge or circumstance requires a new you. You are constantly discovering new strengths, new passions, and new likes or dislikes. Don’t get stuck on who you use to be or who people think you should be because they knew you once upon a time, instead embrace your new self at the present moment and know you won’t be there long either. Keep becoming.
I would love to know your thoughts on the book and your favorite parts if you’ve read it!