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Book of the Month: Becoming by Michelle Obama

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Utah chapter.

For this month’s book of the month, it was entirely fitting to choose Michelle Obama autobiography Becoming. I thought that Women’s History Month was best done by learning from a woman who has broken much ground in this world.

When I first began this book, my image of Michelle was comparable to that of a Greek goddess: flawless, indestructible, all-powerful. In my head, Michelle Obama had transcended humanity as we know it. But there are a few problems with that: for one, you cannot deify a person you don’t actually know; and two, when you deify a person, you dehumanize them. Upon reading this book, I was in awe of Michelle in a different way. I realized just how human she was, but how her tenacity had led her to great heights regardless of obstacles such as adversity, tragedy, fear, doubt. She is a resilient individual who we can all learn from.

There are a few key lessons I want to take from her book. I’d like to divide them into the individual and the big picture and the relationship: what the individual wants to do and what the individual can do for the world and how two individuals can navigate the world. I’ve found that Michelle had been torn between what she wanted, what impact she could have, and what she and Barack could do together.

The Individual

To my surprise, Michelle did not end up wanting to be a lawyer. She had chosen this path because she wanted a career that was well-established and well-paying. There was no room for a shifty career that follows the heart. She was following the steps and checking off the boxes that would lead to success. What she found, however, was that this wasn’t fulfilling.

The Big Picture

This led to her discovery into a broader perspective: she realized she wanted to impact the world positively and on a grand scale. The reason why constitutional law wasn’t for her was that she didn’t even meet with the clients she created cases for. Instead, she wanted a career that allowed her to make tangible connections.

The Relationship

The greatest connection Michelle arguably made was the one with Barack. Despite their power couple status that the public sees, their relationship was more than that. Of course, they were madly in love with each other, but, as Michelle describes it, how does an individualist man settle down with a family woman? She wanted the Mary Tyler Moore life: she wanted a career but she also wanted her family. This often times meant compromising with Barack, but sometimes, it meant compromising with herself. Something not often discussed was her disdain at the thought of him becoming a politician, let alone running for the President of the United States. Eventually, she looked within and concluded that the country would be a better place with an earnest figure that is Barack Obama leading it.

Conclusion

As a whole, this book enlightened me in many ways. It encouraged introspection to these different areas of life. What do I want? Who do I want to be? What could I accomplish? What kind of person could I see myself with? What could we accomplish? What I learned most from Michelle Robinson Obama was the importance of questioning. In fact, she kept a journal that she would visit every so often to ponder these crucial, life-altering questions and their answers. Ultimately, anyone who reads her story will be inspired to forge their own faith with vigor in order to create their very own “becoming” tale.

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Her Campus Utah Chapter Contributor