Like almost every young woman in the world, I hope that some day, I get to meet Michelle Obama. Or better still, I get to BE like her.
By watching her on television, you feel like you know her. She has a keen similarity to that Aunty and friend- that larger than life personality (standing at a 5.11ft) you always knew. She is adored by millions, but down to earth enough to spit out a few rap lines and compete in a game of press- ups with Ellen DeGeneres on live television.
For various “complicated” reasons, I still haven’t got around to reading her book, “Becoming”, but when the opportunity came to watch her Netflix documentary, I dived wholeheartedly. So here’s to Michelle Obama (Mrs “O”) and all the salient takeaways from her life’s journey.
Every child should feel heard and seen at home
“Our dinner table was the first table where I felt like I belonged”.
Michelle Obama paints a vivid picture of what dinner time was like when she was younger, “Our table was the first table where I felt I belonged”. It is not hard to imagine that she was able to thrive through the isolation that came with being first black family in the white house, because right from childhood, she was made to feel heard and appreciated. She could ask her parents anything and could speak up “politely” if she felt uncomfortable about anything. Once she entered into society in adulthood, she expected “the same thing”. She believed she could be anything she wanted to be.
I feel like family plays an important role in helping us cope through discrimination. The world is tough indeed. People will judge you by your looks. They will judge you by your, age, race, sex, and religious affiliation. You will get a lot of “No’s” based on these factors. But to overcome, you have got to find your voice. What Michelle Obama is trying to say is, a child needs to find his voice at home first, before he can speak up, boldly, and thrive in today’s society. If however, you grew up been silenced all the time, it is never too late to look within, and find your voice.
Never settle for being an “ Appendage” in Marriage
“He was different and he challenged me in different ways. I knew he was a Tsunami coming after me and I knew if I didn’t get my acts right, I will be swept up. I didn’t want to be just another appendage to his dreams”.
Mrs “O’ knew her Barack Obama was different, from the onset. He was a tough act to keep up with, “A Tsunami” and Mrs “O” from knew she had to prepare herself, to march up. The “My president has swag” search results on Pinterest, reveals how effortlessly “Swagilicious” and beloved Barack Obama was.
The lesson here is simple – to be a befitting queen to a king you have got to self-improve. Every young woman grooms and empowers themselves. This way they don’t end up living under a man’s shadow. A lot of women in the world have become less enthusiastic to pursue their dreams. Mrs “O” was able to inspire the world because she was prepared.
Your happiness is not dependent on your spouse making you happy
“My happiness is not dependent on him making me happy”.
In the course of their marriage, Michelle Obama would often get mad when Barack Obama would choose to prioritize himself over, the kids. She thought, “where does he even get the time to –“.
Through marital counseling, she learned that her happiness had depended on the availability and absence of her husband for too long, and this was causing friction in the marriage. She decided not to waste her emotional energy getting angry at Barack for visiting the “Gym” and she started to do the same herself.
I find that this is common with women in general. We hang our happiness at the doorsteps of our partners and kids. But the men do the opposite. They say “happy wife, happy life”. The truth is, if we as women, choose more to find that balance between marriage, kids, and self, there may be happier marriages in the world today.
How to handle labels and criticisms
“You must define yourself before anyone else does”.
Anyone familiar with the Obama presidency would remember the level of racism he faced, at the time. The world was experiencing the first black US president and as expected there was a backlash from those afraid of change. Michele Obama said, she coped by “defining herself” and telling her own story.
This touches me in many ways than one. We go through life, carrying labels giving to us by people who do not know you, your story, or your value. Mrs “O” believes that to undo labels or stereotypes, you have to know yourself, and speak up for yourself. Never answer a name for which you are not. She said that to avoid being lost in the crowd, you must embrace your uniqueness and own it.