The Mind

Becoming, Michelle Obama

It isn’t Michelle’s academic or professional success that leads to me to recommend Becoming - it is the honesty of unfilled dreams which I have kept with me since reading this book.

Rating: 5/5

In her autobiography, Becoming, Michelle Obama talks of the journey that that made her who she is, becoming a Princeton graduate, becoming a lawyer, becoming a wife and mother, becoming the First Lady, and, undeniably, becoming an inspiration. Her account is candid, and refuses to gloss over the tragedies she saw in the world, the disappointments she faced in life, and the hardships of life in the White House. 

The Picture of Success 

Beginning with life in the South Side of Chicago, surrounded by a loving family, Michelle reveals the ambition and drive which has been with her since the beginning. A quiet girl to begin with, Michelle relied on her brother’s easy social skills to find friends as they played outside with neighbours, but it wasn’t long before her academic success gave her a space of her own. Moving from strength to strength, Michelle attended Princeton, where she was constantly busy with study or work, and then onto Harvard Law School. Here, she met her future husband, and the future President of the United States, Barack Obama. His easy-going attitude was the opposite to Michelle’s detail-oriented view of the world, but something clicked and the rest is history. 

Two years on from Trump’s inauguration, Michelle published her autobiography to share the story of her husband’s presidency; the vagueness of the title ‘First Lady’, the journey to Barack’s re-election, and the hope she continues to feel despite the backwards step America seems to have taken. 

Why I recommend: Reassessing your Happiness 

An autobiography of an outwardly successful and much revered woman might sound like an obvious choice for a book to recommend to someone newly graduated or looking for inspiration, but it isn’t Michelle’s academic or professional success that leads to me to recommend Becoming. Whilst her drive and determination to use her position – First Lady or otherwise – to help others is a source of great inspiration for me, it is the honesty of unfilled dreams which I have kept with me since reading this book. 

Having graduated from Princeton, and then Harvard Law School, Michelle found work at the law firm Sidley and Austin. For a woman who never stopped pushing herself to work harder, this sounds like the successful position which would be the pay-off for her work. But it wasn’t. Michelle admits to finding little fulfilment in this position, despite the fact that this was what she had worked for, despite the paycheck that came with it. 

It’s a comfort to realise that happiness looks different to all of us, and sometimes our dreams aren’t what we thought they would be. It’s hard to admit that the things we worked hard for haven’t given us the joy we thought they would, but it’s okay – at any stage of life – to reassess and decide to make a change. It’s never too late to make yourself happy. 

Written by Megan Corbett, Another English Student

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