2020 Reading List: Becoming by Michelle Obama

I have always admired the Obama family, particularly Michelle Obama. Throughout her time in the First Lady spotlight, she seemed to exude a certain presence, grace, compassion, and strength that is often lost or buried in mainstream celebrities. To me, their family seemed to be a solid representation of what a First Family should be.

I’m not here to be political or to force my opinions on anyone. I read Becoming, by Michelle Obama, because I wanted to hear about her life in her own words. I wanted a larger glimpse into the life of this First Lady who represented so many other things. I was not disappointed, and I think, whatever your political stance is, you won’t be either.

I hadn’t known much about Michelle Obama’s life prior to reading this book. What I learned was eye-opening: her childhood growing up in Chicago, the one-bedroom apartment her family lived in their whole lives, the neighborhood she loved that slowly turned “ghetto” over the years, her struggles with friendships and classmates (just like any kid), the challenges in overcoming stereotypes. She was a black kid from Chicago who studied hard and had ambitions to go to college and make something of herself. Princeton, law school, a top law firm, high-powered positions at non-profits and universities. She came from a humble background and then went on to succeed.

To be First Lady was not her goal. She states herself that she didn’t like politics and that she didn’t want to get involved or overstep her role next to her husband. But she did make the most of the time she spent at the White House. She made the most of the power and opportunity that her position provided. She was a role model, she championed children, families, members of the military, people who needed a champion. She chose worthy causes and built movements. She set an example of how not just a First Lady should act, but how all women, all people, should act. She lived and worked with kindness, humility, and bravery. She supported her family and raised her daughters with the values that she felt they should have, not because they were in the White House with the public eye scrutinizing them, but because that’s the way she would have raised them anyways.

I’m sure she wasn’t perfect – no one is. And I’m not naive to think that her book is likely only highlighting the good parts of her life, the parts that she obviously wants the public to see. I’m sure that her flaws and mistakes are downplayed, her insecurities are buttoned up, and we’ll never know the whole truth of what happens in the White House. But I felt that her book was a fairly honest and heartfelt account of her life and her time as First Lady.

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