Michelle Obama is an ordinary woman on an extraordinary journey she claims in her aptly titled book. An easy read, becoming is largely endearing bringing out empathy and smiles as the ex-FLOTUS herself takes us on a journey through her life. She is the quintessential woman, one we find everywhere in the world who prioritises on her husband and kids over everything else. Despite being from Princeton or Harvard, despite not approving of her husband’s choices or her life’s circumstances. Though as First Lady she has been put in a place of power and grace she reminds the reader as she must have been reminded constantly on the lightless of the crown she bore, one deride of all responsibility or choice. Gushing over her husband, she highlights time and again the winning qualities of the ex-POTUS. We didnt need to hear all of it as Obama wins on even the most stringents counts unless ofcourse you are a Republican or a terror. In Becoming as in life, the smaller things count, the quiet sacrifices, the following of ones heart, correcting one self, evolving into a better human being, keeping family close, keeping friends closer, speaking your truth, taking the mob with a pinch of salt and making true traditions which mean something to the self. Coming across as intelligent, Obama plays out her truth in calculated measured tones throwing snippets of the Queen, Mandela, Trump, Clinton and host of characters. From an outsiders perspective it seems like a few characters, for a First Lady a largely sheltered life. Her causes felt rather flimsy and its a pity that First Ladies have always been curbed politically and literally from opening up their wings. However what Michelle Obama clears encourages one to celebrate is the ordinary life. She makes the very act of putting on peanut butter on toast for oneself seem ambitious. Reading the book made me treasure my ordinary life. Fame, fortune, power pales when it’s not absolute. And though we ignore the haters and those who block our progress it’s undeniable to state that no man is an island. With a pool of haters and naysayers even Obama, with all his talents and temperament could not do much. Atleast not as much as he did promise. Becoming comes across mostly as an apology for not delivering and as a sigh of relief to be rid of power and titles. A humbling read knowing well that sometimes even the hugest of talents and powerful titles mean nothing. The Obamas come across as a family that craves simplicity but are extremely endearing all the same. The insights that she provides on Barrack Obama are precious though, one would only wish for the carefreeness that a person could possess, a President of the most powerful country at that.
Here are my favourite snippets from the book. Out of context I know, but teeming with quite wisdom.
Failure is a feeling long before it becomes an actual result. Its vulnerability that breeds with self-doubt and then is escalated, often deliberately, by fear.
My mother maintained the sort of parental mindset that I now recognise as brilliant and nearly impossible to emulate – a kind of unflappable zen neutrality. My Mom was simply even-keeled. She wasn’t quick to judge, she wasn’t quick to meddle. Our decisions were on us. It was our life, not hers, and always would be.
I wasn’t going to let one person’s opinion dislodge everything I thought I knew about myself.
All of them have had doubters. Get over it and just live a little.
There are simply other ways of being.
Breezy in his manner, powerful in his mind, curiously hardwired for optimisim.
There’s something innately bolstering about a person who sees his opportunities as endless, who doesn’t waste time or energy questioning whether they will ever dry up.
He’s not someone who is easily rattled or thrown off-course by anything as abstract as doubt or hurt.
The more popular you become the more haters you acquire. Bullies were scared people hiding inside scary people. They lashed out because they felt over-whelmed. You avoided them if you could and stood upto them if you had to.
If there’s one thing I have learned in life, its the power of using your voice.
Ultimately though, like so many things, it was a matter of perception – how we decided to look at what was in front of us.
If you dont get out there and define yourself, youll be quickly and inaccurately defined by others.
“You see how neat I am now?” Barrack said to me one day as we sat at breakfast his eyes mirthful. “Have you looked in my closet?” I have, I said smiling back. :And you get no credit for any of it.”
I had trapped myself in my head.
If I’d learned anything, it was to relax and try to pace myself.