It didn’t take long for Michelle (Can I call you Michelle?) to make me feel like we are old and dear friends. Her candor and deeply personal stories throughout her New York Time’s Best Selling Autobiography Becoming, evokes a sense of kinship and camaraderie from start to finish.
Becoming takes you on a journey from Michelle’s modest upbringing in the South Side of Chicago, through her academic endeavors at Princeton and Harvard her to her eight-year term as First Lady of the United States.
An overwhelming theme in this book is the pressure that so many of us feel about the importance of what other people think of us. Are we enough?
It’s reassuring, knowing all that she has achieved in her lifetime, to read about the doubts and insecurities that plagued Michelle through her young life. From the time she was a little girl struggling to learn how to play the piano to her adult life, landing a high scale job at an executive law firm, Michelle constantly asked herself – “am I enough”?
But what is “enough”? is there ever a point in time in our lives that we can measure ourselves against the societal average and claim victory? Of course not – and that’s okay.
“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.”
It was that realization that lead Michelle to quit her comfortable and high paying job as a lawyer – a job that she admits she never really wanted but was simply a box to be checked on her list of self-worth to-dos.
“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.”
Can we all take a collective exhale?
Michelle Obama is giving us permission to not know what we are doing with our lives. She teaches us that the beauty of the time we are given is that there is no pre-determined finish line for our success. We are constantly evolving and growing, always improving and becoming.