“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.”
Why Did I Read This Book?
I have recently been debating whether I should start delving into the world of audiobooks. More and more I’m questioning whether I could listen to an audiobook whilst reading another book. I don’t read several books at a time and I admire anyone who can, but for me I find it hard to be engrossed in two books at the same time. However, I signed myself up for a free audible trial and I used one of my credits to download Becoming by Michelle Obama. I’d heard such great things about this book, and often come across quotes from Michelle plastered on every motivational social media account, so I thought I’d see what all the hype is about.
“Do we settle for the world as it is, or do we work for the world as it should be?”
What Did I Think?
I think what I liked the most about this book is how personal Michelle is. She doesn’t hold back on the raw truths of growing up, falling in love, studying hard, working even harder, and being First Lady of America. She is also very honest about her marriage with Barack and very open how their relationship was often tested by other commitments, politics and the heavy load that being a black woman in the spotlight comes hand in hand with.
I remember Barack being voted in as President of America. I remember listening to his inauguration on the radio; seeing the pictures in the newspaper and on TV. I remember when Osama Bin Laden was captured and how Barack was held as a hero. The first black President of the United States. Obviously being British, I have no idea what it was like to live under Obama’s presidency, but I think as a bystander from across the water, a lot of people are huge fans of Barack and how he seemed to stay very down to Earth and somewhat normal and personable.
It is no surprise then that Michelle’s account of her relationship with Obama confirms just how normal and dedicated Barack was. He wanted to make change in the world from a young age, working as a lawyer to be able to know first hand how he can use/change the law to help others.
However, enough about Barack. As I listened to the audiobook, I just loved Michelle’s voice. You could really tell how passionate she was at times, really getting her point across. You felt the emotion in her words. When she speaks of her family and Barack, you can feel just how much she loves them. You can hear the smile on her face.
There are some really touching moments in this book that have stuck with me. How she was so passionate about school and so dedicated to achieving the best. So scared of failure, I saw myself in her in some ways. When she failed her law bar exam, I felt her disappointment. Like Michelle, I’m absolutely terrified of failing anything and will do absolutely everything to make sure I don’t.
I also loved when she went to Nairobi with Barack and her experience of being an African American in Africa. She was constantly asked which one of her parents were white, showing us how she felt alienated in a place where her ancestors had originated.
When Michelle and Barack were desperately trying to get pregnant, you could feel her disappointment when yet another test comes back negative. You feel her frustration at having to struggle between wanting a child, but not wanting to let it affect her work. She talks about the battle that women go through, inevitably having to sacrifice work and other commitments/passions to ensure they are eating the right foods, taking the correct precautions and ultimately making the most of their most fertile days in the cycle, whilst men can go just about their daily business.
She frequently discusses how annoying it was when she was going to give public speeches and all reporters cared about was where her shoes were from or who designed her outfit. The constant struggle she went through to get her voice, and more importantly, her message heard was a recurring battle throughout the book and you could sense her irritation when she was recapping her experiences. But like most women in the public eye, their opinions and voice are constantly outshone by their appearance.
I really enjoyed listening to Michelle talk about her life, from childhood right through to sitting in a car with Melania Trump before her husband’s inauguration. She offers some really honest and real insights into the life of a politician and their families. I struggled to pick the best quotes from this book because there are so many. Every other sentence, I was like ‘Oh, that’s such a good quote.’
Definitely worth a listen/read.
“For every door that’s been opened to me, I’ve tried to open my door to others. And here is what I have to say, finally: Let’s invite one another in. Maybe then we can begin to fear less, to make fewer wrong assumptions, to let go of the biases and stereotypes that unnecessarily divide us. Maybe we can better embrace the ways we are the same. It’s not about being perfect. It’s not about where you get yourself in the end. There’s power in allowing yourself to be known and heard, in owning your unique story, in using your authentic voice. And there’s grace in being willing to know and hear others. This, for me, is how we become.”