A Case for Pivoting | Becoming Michelle Obama


All of the things Michelle Obama’s book Becoming could have been about, one thing it wasn’t about was politics - at least to say, it wasn’t political. Though I was surprised to discover that it had less to do with the fluff that often times smothers the role of FLOTUS and focused more on her evolution into becoming the woman we know today.  I really loved how relatable Michelle Obama has remained throughout the years as well as how much she has allowed herself to change.

Most of all, I think the book and her recanting her journey into being a professional, marriage and motherhood all came together with her discovering that while many important people in her life had found some way of pivoting in their lives like her ex-boyfriend becoming a sports team mascot, her college friend taking the easier and more “fun” path throughout college, law school and later in life ditching job security in order to travel the world and even her own brother making a complete career change from investment banking to becoming a college basketball coach, her own pivot happened when she didn’t even know it - when she decided to marry Barack. 

It’s funny how we have this idea that there’s a path that is “right” and a path that is “wrong”. That the “right” path will bring us unwavering stability but we should sneer and stay clear of those that do something different. 

I think Becoming does a great job at showing that serendipity is real. That dating app is going to necessarily bring you the man or woman of your dreams. Going to school and getting a job is great and necessary but taking chances, bucking the norms and not always knowing what the cards hold can get you places you can only dream about. 

Race is an interesting thing. I don’t talk about race (or my “mixed ethnicity) on this blog much but in context to this book, I think it fitting. In Chapter 3 Michelle Obama addresses issues with race - specifically issues that mixed people face. She says, “…light skinned to some and dark-skinned to others….” And “…the need to situate someone with their ethnicity and the frustration that comes when it can’t be done.” Both statements I can definitely identify with. Having people debate what you look like while in front of you can make you feel outside yourself. Like an object or a wooden chair. 

There’s a lot of great quotes throughout the book. My favorites are:

Chapter 3: “ Are you what you appear to be. Do I trust you or not?” 

Chapter 5: “Failure is a feeling long before it’s a actual result”, “Planting a suggestion of failure long before I’ve ever tried to succeed…”, “Another way of telling someone to lower their sights…”

Chapter 17: “…Invalidation of being female, black and strong to certain people translates into angry…”, “…Damaging cliche meant to sweep minority women to the corners of the room.”; “A stereotype functions as an actual trap. How many “angry black women” have been caught in the circular logic of that phrase…when you’re not being listened to why wouldn’t you get louder?”

Chapter 21: “We have a responsibility to be optimistic.”

My favorite on of all:

Chapter 24: “You may live in the world as it is but still work to create the world as it should be."

I listened to Becoming on Audible but you can select your options for reading or listening here, https://amzn.to/2DQE9H4

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