Becoming Michelle Obama: An Aspiring Testament and its Teachings

Wow.

This is a moment for the books, and I’m so elated.

First of all, I’ve finally made it through Michelle Obama’s Becoming! It’s the first book I’ve read this 2019, and I’m about to tell y’all all about it with my first blog post from my first okay, second attempt at creating a blog. But with so many firsts, it’s still a moment to celebrate! I’m definitely treating myself to sleeping in until about 1:30pm tomorrow followed by something deliciously deep-fried and against my diet.

I’m a bit behind schedule, but could you blame me? I work at a busy Wynwood restaurant part-time, finishing out my senior year at FIU, and just landed an internship with Florida Film House, so you can understand the insane balancing act my life is right now. But this the age of multi-tasking  and hustling ’till your half dead, so give me about a few weeks and I’ll adapt in no time.

Anyways, I remember dying to get my hands on this book the moment I found out about it last year, and once gifted to me by a good friend during a secret Santa exchanged, I felt the whispers of knowledge and wisdom from Michelle and her ancestors drifting in on soft winds caress my ears and alongside my face as the warmth of the book seeped through my fingertips (or could that have just been the music fading in the background and my hands getting sweaty?). Either way, I was in something R.E.A.L.

And real this was.

Now don’t get me wrong, once you sit back after reading the whole thing you realize how amazing of a story Michelle’s truly is. It’s one that defies the odds. Growing up black, female, and from a working-class family in Chicago, she didn’t have much. But she had family, and a loving one at that. This propelled young Michelle into good schools, which then pushed her further into getting accepted into Princeton. She only aspired to go because her older brother, Craig, went ahead first, so consequently she felt most comfortable following along. But of course, he was pushed by the same driving force that etched both of them on the paths to success: their parents.

They invested in their children the way parents are supposed to. The way someone with zero financial literacy and no sense of future would on materialistic pleasures. It’s through their sacrifice you learned that young Michelle had the kind of care and scrutiny every child needs in order to make it in this world. Their love provided her with the understanding that regardless of what stood in her way, she was worthy of exceling to all sorts of heights. I truly loved hearing about her childhood because that kind of attentive care is missing in a lot of homes, especially black homes today – a kind of care that fosters a sense of self-worth. Later, you see this same style of parenting play out in how Michelle raises her girls, making you wish you had kids of your own to love in that way. Or in my case, more cats.

As great as this was to see, and as interesting it was to evolve with Michelle through her life’s journey from childhood, to young adolescence (did y’all know Michelle smoked weed before?!?!), all the way to entering young adulthood where she meets Barack, falls in love, and slowly but surely enters the destiny she’d soon assume, you can’t help but struggle to find the enthusiasm to get into a new chapter after having to gruelingly drag yourself out of the last one!

Yes, my busy-ish schedule was one of the main factors in my slow reading, but the biggest factor was the book’s slowness. Michelle is very, VERY detailed in explaining her life. It’s funny, but she mentions being well aware of this as one of her personality traits, which she’s proud of, and hey, I ain’t mad at her. But damn y’all, between us, if it weren’t for the fact she was former Flotus and a black woman, I would’ve put the book down after the first chapter, never to have read it again, and eventually tossing it in my goodwill-give-away knapsack.

But because I LOVE Michelle Obama and everything she stood for in the eight years she served as the wife of the commander-in-chief, I endured her wordy, drawn out sentences and too descriptive scenarios of damn near everything she can ever recall (WHICH IS A LOT), for the sake of hearing first-hand her struggle of what it was like being a POC attending an overwhelmingly white ivy-league university. Or learning that even though she had a luxury car, was earning over $100,000 post-grad working at a law firm with an office overlooking Chicago’s beautiful lake, she left to work administering at city hall, which paid her half of what she made as a lawyer, but set her on the path of both self-fulfillment and equipped her the skillsets she needed to help do her part when it came to Barack’s presidency. I endured the book because she showed me the lengths of what older women struggling to conceive go through, especially if they’ve miscarried and are left with limited options.

I felt sad for her when she opened up about how it made her feel when our country depicted her as being nothing but black, angry, and ugly. I knew her pain but couldn’t fathom the extent of how daunting it was to have those words said a thousand times over, online and on tv aiming at you like bullets.

When she started getting into how the first four years of Flotus-life was like, you can forget it. It seemed like nothing but a whirl-wind of a headache that anyone would be quick to trade in. Imagine constantly being bombarded with information from your team of assistants keeping you up-to-date on the latest current events every. single. day. Or having your whole day, week, and maybe even month planned down to a T. Or not being able to leave your house without secret service permission or approval, and then once that’s granted having to have a motorcade of secret service driving you everywhere you go. It drove her mad sometimes causing her to feel trapped in her own body, and yet, interestingly enough, she didn’t falter or backed out. She endured it.

After not wanting ANYTHING to do with the political life, after begging Barack to not run for senator and then later president (she wasn’t with the politics at all, y’all), she still stood dormant. It’s true that this wasn’t the kind of life she initially envisioned for herself or her loved ones, but because of her love for Barack, because she believed in him, their union, and evidently herself, she understood then what she was signing up for. And after summoning her own inner strength, endured it.

And that is why I endured this book. That’s what kept me going. In learning how Michelle LaVaughn Robinson became Michelle LaVaughn Obama, I learned that becoming the person you are meant to be is no easy road or task. It can take not months, not a few years, but decades to reach. And in those decades, you must hone integrity, perseverance, and a whole lot of grit in order to make to there.

As for myself, I can say that this book was definitely a blessing. I’d recommend it to everyone. What better way to get to know the 44thFirst Lady than reading her in her own words?

And don’t worry if you don’t have any of the qualities I mentioned before. Getting yourself a copy will help in getting those started in your life, especially if you hope to actually get through this book.

 

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