Author: Michelle Obama
Category: Non-fiction, Biography
10-word summary: You are in the process of choosing who you are.
Becoming is the autobiography of Michelle Obama, the First Lady and wife of Barack Obama. I’m sure you know who she is and, like me, you probably admired her for many reasons: her education, her strength and for being a good role model for all women out there.
Reading this book let me learn more about a woman who I looked up to and it made me realize that we are all very similar. We all struggle with self-doubt and we are all in a process of finding out who we are, where we belong and how we want to live our lives.
Even though I rarely read autobiographies, I really enjoyed reading this one. It was honest, simple and inspiring. It was a pleasure to read it. But, as you probably expect from an autobiography, it was not life-changing (at least not for me). Regardless, if you ever looked up to Michelle Obama or if you are curious about her life, I do recommend this book.
Lessons from Becoming
Even women like Michelle Obama struggle to find their way
Becoming documents her entire life – since childhood to the White House. Even though all periods of her life were interesting, I was most interested in her career life before Barack became president.
It was interesting to read about how she was unsure of what career path she should take to find both fulfillment and financial stability. She worked for different companies and institutions to see where she can serve best.
Since I also struggle to find the best career path for me, I was glad to read about her trials and career changes. It reminded me that even the people we look up to need to experiment and make adjustments to find out where they belong and how they want to serve. I found this comforting and inspiring at the same time and I’m sure many of you will relate to this.
Remember that you are good enough
Throughout her life, Michelle kept asking herself “Am I good enough”. She asked herself that in school, at university and during Barack’s political campaign. And she always told herself that she was good enough.
I think that we (especially us women) tend to be very critical of ourselves and we always want to become better and to prove our worth. And sometimes this makes us doubt ourselves and it damages our self-confidence. That’s why I think we should all remind ourselves that we are good enough for the challenges we are facing. We can always improve and learn more, but we should also remember that we are worthy of the opportunities that come our way.
It was odd for me to read about this because Michelle always seems to radiate confidence and strength. Perhaps we all have our moments of doubt – no matter how confident we seem to others. And in those moments of doubt, we need to remind ourselves that we are good enough.
What I like about Becoming
1. It is incredibly detailed
As I was reading her book, I couldn’t believe how many details she included in it, especially when she was talking about her early childhood. She may have contacted her family in friends to help her remember some events, but still, I was impressed by how rich in details the book was.
To be honest, if I had to write a book about my own life, I don’t think I could ever write such a detailed autobiography.
2. Michelle was very honest
I believe this is normal for autobiographies, but I loved how honest and transparent Michelle was. She talked about her selfish desires and how she did not want Barack to get involved in politics. Instead, she wanted to have a quite life where they would spend time together as a family. She said that she did not have faith in him and she thought he would not get elected president.
She also talked about the pain she felt when she lost some people close to her. The way she described her thoughts in those situations was very touching and honest.
In a world that seems to be more and more concerned with appearances and superficial things, a book that is sometimes deep and honest is like a breath of fresh air.
3. It showed her evolution
I think it is probably easy to see how you evolved when looking back after many decades of growth and change. Even so, I liked seeing her evolution from a little girl from Chicago to the First Lady living in the White House. It was a very coherent story that was simple, yet inspiring.
I often think that reading about the lives of impressive people can be misleading. Many things make sense in retrospect and it seems like everything fell into place the way it was meant to be. But I’m sure it does not always feel that way in the present. A life that is challenging or chaotic in the moment may seem totally different when looking back on it 30 years later.
When they look at things in retrospect, it seems that everything makes sense and it was a natural evolution. But I’m sure if often does not feel that way all the time.
Probably all of us could write a coherent story 30-40 years from now when we look back on our lives. Perhaps books like this one serve as a reminder that we are also living our own stories and that we are becoming someone else. It might be useful to take a few moments and reflect on our past and imagine the trajectory we want to follow in the future. This may help inspire us to aim for more and dare to go after what we want in life, confident that it will all make sense in the end.
What I don’t like about Becoming
1. I don’t think I would have read this book if she weren’t the wife of Barack Obama
This is not necessarily a criticism of Michelle or her book. I don’t have a problem with the fact that she became famous because her husband was elected president of the US and she used her popularity to write a book.
I just feel that sometimes women like her only get to make their voices heard because of the careers of their husbands. And I wish we lived in a society where women like Michelle could become more famous for what they do on their own. I’m not saying this is not happening. I simply feel that, in a way, the career of her husband is so important and impressive that she can only come after him. If it weren’t for him, maybe she would not be in the spotlight. Maybe nobody would sign a book deal with her.
And that’s a shame because we need more female role models that promote good values such as education, confidence, responsibility and more. In a world where too many women become famous only for their own bodies, Michelle reminds us that you can be a smart, classy woman with self-respect and still be a role-model and influence others in a positive way. And I wish more women like her would have a chance to be in the spotlight.
Quotes from Becoming
“Your story is what you have, what you will always have. It is something to own.”
“Failure is a feeling long before it becomes an actual result. It’s vulnerability that breeds with self-doubt and then is escalated, often deliberately, by fear.”
“If you don’t get out there and define yourself, you’ll be quickly and inaccurately defined by others.”
“For me, becoming isn’t about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. I see it instead as forward motion, a means of evolving, a way to reach continuously toward a better self. The journey doesn’t end.”
“I was determined to be someone who told the truth, using my voice to lift up the voiceless when I could, and to not disappear on people in need.”
“Am I good enough? Yes, I am.”
Should You Read Becoming?
This is not necessarily the type of book I would recommend to everyone. If you like Michelle Obama or if you are curious about her life, then you should read this book. If you want to learn more about her evolution and her own career, read this book.
But I wouldn’t call this book life-changing or the best book I’ve ever read – mainly because it’s an autobiography. Books like this are usually not as informative or life-changing as other non-fiction, science-based books. However, I think it’s a good book that is interesting, well-written and very easy to read. Plus, it’s also inspiring and I think some women need a bit of inspiration nowadays. This book was surprisingly pleasant and encouraging for me, so I’m definitely glad I took the time to read it!
Have you read Becoming? If you have, what did you think about it?