“Failure is a feeling long before it is an actual result.”
I do feel as though everyone and their mother (quite literally) has read Becoming by Michelle Obama. And if you haven’t, get on it! I also had the opportunity to see Michelle live when she came to Toronto and enjoyed the experience so, so much. Seeing her speak in person telling humorous stories and encouraging the audience with positive reinforcements made her all the more relatable to me.
I’m not going to summarize all of Becoming here for you, as you have most likely read it for yourself and have your own favorite takeaways from it, but I do want to highlight some of the parts that stood out to me as a thirty-something Canadian woman.
The former first lady’s story begins with her modest childhood; she was a happy and curious child who looked up to her big brother and she had a plan for everything.
Learning about Michelle’s childhood in Chicago was enlightening and adds to her relatable nature. She came from a hard-working family, and was raised by parents who treated her the same as they treated her big brother, despite their genders. Hearing about how Michelle and her family coped with her father’s disability was also heartwarming; it was an ever-present battle in their lives.
Michelle’s early childhood chapters also provided interesting and shocking insight into the racism Michelle experienced from such a young age.
It’s no secret that Michelle is extremely intelligent. She attended both Princeton and Harvard, and reading about her experiences in applying to and attending these schools as a black woman was illuminating and educational for me, especially as a white, Canadian female.
“Don’t get used to it, and don’t accept it.” – Michelle Obama
I loved Michelle and Barack’s ‘meet-cute.’ He showed up drenched from the rain and late for his first day of work at the law firm she worked at, and Michelle was less-than-impressed. I absolutely loved the beginning of their relationship, and how it blossomed into a beautiful marriage.
Michelle is candid about her dislike of politics throughout the book, and she writes about her wariness of Barack running for Senate. He was away from Michelle and their two daughters, and she opened up about their struggles as a couple with young children, and how marriage counselling was a saving grace for them. She also writes about motherhood, and this adds to Michelle’s generally warm demeanor. As a working mother with a husband who wasn’t around much, she was often alone with the two kids, not having time to make dinner for her family and constantly eating takeout, feeling like she would never get everything done. I really relate to everything Michelle writes in these sections, and I appreciated her candidness so much.
The White House
The perspective Michelle has from not only the process of getting to the White House, but also inside the White House, was so different than any other perspective I’ve read. Michelle talks about initially being painted by the media as an ‘angry black woman’ and the power that one article can have on a Presidential campaign. She talks about getting adjusted, getting her family adjusted, maintaining ‘normalcy’ for her kids, and how she prioritized what she wanted out of her position as First Lady. Their journey to the White House was beyond inspiring, and what she did as a first lady, for women, children, and the under privileged, was truly incredible.
When Michelle wrote about violence in America and the ongoing tragedies families dealt with during the Obama administration, I welled up; this part was the most difficult to read. Michelle wrote about the Sandyhook children and teachers, as well as young teens with bright futures ahead who lost their lives due to unnecessary gun violence. Reading about the Sandyhook children again was beyond heartbreaking. I agree with everything Michelle says and everything the Obama’s tried to do to enforce stricter gun laws. The sad part is, gun violence is still happening.
Becoming Tour- Toronto
“Becoming is never giving up on the idea that there is more growing to be done.” – Michelle Obama
I love this quote from Becoming. I’ve always said that even if I live until 90-something, I don’t want to believe I am done growing; I don’t want to stop learning. I want to continue striving to become a better person. Michelle reinforces my inner voice, and this gives me strength, courage and hope that we are all striving to be better, to become better.
At the Toronto show, Michelle was interviewed by Phoebe Robinson. It was a casual, relatable conversation. It was a summary of the book (which made sense since I speculate that most people in the audience had read it), and was more of a Q&A. Michelle told humorous stories about her daughters and raising teenagers who know “everything.”
She also confirmed that she will NOT run for President, much to the audience’s dismay.
Ian bought the Becoming Tour tickets for me for Christmas, and it was such an amazing gift; I left the show feeling inspired and confident. Michelle seems so accessible and truly wants every woman out there to know that they too can become whatever they want.
“Becoming is equal part patience and rigor.” –Michelle Obama