Listening to Michelle Obama in a conversation with Oprah Winfrey, I remember being impressed by candidness, energy, openness and confidence of the former (I am also a fan of Oprah).
And as I got a chance to read ‘Becoming’, I remained glued to it until I finished it. Though I am not black, though I am not an American, though I will never be even close to being the First Lady of any country, though I have no connection to politics, I still could relate to her memoir in so many ways.
How she described her childhood, her zeal to excel in academics, living in a limited income household, ambitious and a planner by personality, paying a price for not being diplomatic always, falling in love, first kiss, first job and there are many more things that she has penned down so beautifully that I recommend every woman to read this book. Every woman who felt that her strength has been perceived as anger, her confidence has been perceived as stubbornness and her boldness has been perceived as her arrogance.
It dawned on me that this book is a collection of golden quotes from this great lady and I should compile this in my diary so that the goodness, positivity and hope that I feel now instantly after reading it, remains with me thereafter. And then the thought followed, if with me, it should also be with you.
So here I am sharing top 13 quotes from Michelle Obama’s book, The Becoming. And if you are yet to read the book, I promise these are not spoilers and there is still a lot of it, that is left to be read, felt and indulged into.
1. “There are truths that we face and truths we ignore”.
Yes, I am sure it applies to all of us. We come across several facts in our daily lives, we chose to ponder upon some of them and take action, while we keep ignoring some. Sometimes it becomes too late that we realize we should have acted on something.
While Michelle was pointing out here how her father ignored his health issues for a long time until it was too late, I realize it is a lesson for all of us to think well before moving on from a truth that we know.
2. “Your story is what you have, what you will always have. It is something to own.”
This is a lesson Michelle got from her mother, who has been her constant support and deserves credit for her daughter’s success in life. She ensured in many ways to maintain the right balance in parenting her kids so that they could take their own decisions as well as are also aware at the same time that she has got their backs.
By owning our stories, we embrace all of it, the good and the bad. That is what makes us unique and one should never be ashamed of any part of it. This is how we grow, learn and mature. Once we accept ourselves, only then are we accepted by others.
3. “I have learned that it is harder to hate up close”
Not spoiling it for you by telling the reference here, it happens quite often that we form preconceived notions about people around us even before meeting them. Based on what we hear, we form assumptions in our mind and tend to dislike the person already without any solid reason.
And one day as we meet the person, we realize how wrong we have been. It is easier to look into someone’s personality when closer as it leaves little room for misunderstandings. This is why it is important to meet people who are important to you. To make sure there is no fog of misunderstandings, only a clear reflection of each other’s minds and personalities.
4. “The easiest way to disregard a woman’s voice is to package her as a scold”
Here comes a powerful feminist quote!
For ages, some men have used various tactics to keep women at bay from important places. Thanks to the rise of feminism that women are coming up but the equality isn’t there yet. Mansplaining exists and there are a thousand ways male chauvinists use to shut a woman down.
Our society has been conditioned to see quite, unopinionated and obedient women with no voice of her own. A woman portrayed otherwise is easily disregarded which is why women are required to be far more careful than men, when presenting themselves.
Tarnishing a woman’s image by painting her energy as her arrogance, men have for the longest time ensured to keep them out of power. When Michelle points it out narrating an incident from her own life, it just confirms the fact that no woman is immune to this.
5. “Failure is a feeling long before it becomes an actual result”
When things are not favorable and the gut feeling points it out, we can see the failure coming. The feeling of failing comes long before the actual result.
The sadness, negativity and the heart break that a failure entails, are all present in our minds much before it happens. One can say that giving up in advance leads to failure but it is not always the case. Sometimes, there is nothing you can do but wait for the failure to reach its final destination.
6. “Like a lot of girls, I became aware of the liabilities of my body early, long before I began to even look like a woman.”
How honestly Michelle has highlighted the liability that every girl carries from a young age. Again such a relatable thought. How we face restrictions around going out of home, the way we dress up, timing of our return, the company we hang out with. All of this is much more under the scanner for a girl than her brothers.
This is not necessarily because of the mindset of parents, it has largely to do with the liabilities we carry as a woman. The risk and vulnerability we carry around. Not only people around us can attack our body, people on social media and other forms of internet are also predators and constantly pose a threat to a woman’s image. A woman has to be far more conscious of all these things, than her male counterpart.
This quote outlines the brutal reality that little girls in our world face.
7. Make the money first and worry about your happiness later.
Another advice from Michelle’s mother. A lot of times, we are faced with dilemma where we cannot choose easily between things that make us happy and those that bring us money.
A blunt practical advice that is noteworthy too. The bitter reality of the modern world is that money is supreme, everything (and everyone) else follows.
8. “If you don’t get out there and define yourself, you’ll be quickly and inaccurately, defined by others”
Yes, it is very important to speak up especially where there is a risk of someone else speaking up against you. Being silent and laidback can be harmful.
It is easier for people to assume than make efforts in understanding someone. To ensure that you are understood correctly, it is imperative that you go out and do it yourself. Otherwise there is always a risk that someone else will do it incorrectly for you. Better not to leave any room for it.
9. “As a kid, you learn to measure long before you understand the size or value of anything. Eventually, if you are lucky, you learn that you’ve measuring all wrong.”
Flashy and expensive things seem most valuable to us as kids, for their scarce nature. While other things that are available in abundance like love of the family and care of our parents, do not hold much value at that time.
Only later in life do we realize how precious all of it was and how we were chasing worthless things in life. Again very relatable, especially after you have crossed 30!
10. “Regardless of what I chose to do, I knew I was bound to disappoint someone”
It is impossible to keep everyone around you happy. You chose whom to prioritize and whom to disappoint. Aren’t we all faced with these kind of choices?
Even if we do not make a choice consciously, it is just natural that the expectations of all cannot be satisfied at the same time. This is how the world around is entangled in a complex set up. We wear several hats during the day, however the fact remains that in the end, it is one person wearing all of it.
Neither the choices that we have, nor the decisions we make are simple. We have to eventually learn to navigate through these kind of situations and learn to bear the pain of disappointing few around us.
11. “Grief and resilience live together”
They say that God choses to give problems to those, who have the strength to deal with them. Sooner or later, many life changing events happen in our lives, we also lose loved ones forever. Those that we believe we could never live without.
But the life goes on. The sting of grief lives with us for a long time but also cohabits resilience in there. We learn to live with grief and move on with life. That is when we witness the resilience that we never thought we had.
12. “They helped me ride out the big, unsettling waves that sometimes hit without notice.”
True friends are precious and rare, those that stand by you in turbulent times and help you get through it. There are things that we share with no one but friends, they are our source of solace and comfort.
You can confide in them and confess to them without the fear of judgement. Just like any of us, the First Lady of the United States of America also needed friends. Not just the ones that come closer when you are succeeding in life, but the ones that supported you when you were far from it.
13. “Dominance, even the threat of it, is a form of dehumanization. It’s the ugliest kind of power.”
Even in a free world, dominance exists widely. Dominance in a family set up, corporates or political environment or in any other form is suffocating. It is appalling to see people using their power and position to impose things that are unjustified.
It takes maturity and a rational mind to show respect for someone’s beliefs, cultures and origin. Not everyone is born in a privileged home, but everyone deserves to live freely.
Please share in comments which quote is most relatable for you. As about me, by the time I finished reading the book, I almost felt living in the mind of this strong woman.