For my twenty-eighth birthday this year I was given one of the best presents, getting to travel to Vancouver to attend Michelle Obama’s Becoming tour with my Mom, Dad and younger sister.
The show, which technically was a book tour, was unlike any other and I am sure was unprecedented for a book tour. Being in the sold out sports arena felt more like being at a music concert (think going to see Beyonce) than it did attending a conversation about the life of a former first lady , but that is what made it wonderful.
Becoming: An Intimate Conversation with Michelle Obamabegan with music and the opportunity to get your photo and message on the scoreboard via social media; my sister and I were thrilled to make it on the screen. This was followed by a great photo and video show of highlights from Obama’s life, growing up as a Robinson and then her life after she became an Obama and was in the White House. Highlights included some of her more famous public relations moments, such as her appearance on Carpool Karaoke and now iconic photos from her time in the White House.
When Mrs. Obama did come out, after a great intro featuring mostly local female change-makers ranging in age from 12 to 40 or 50, she captivated the crowd. We were all cheering and then some of us were crying. She was relateable, oh so real and very, very funny. Listening to her speak you felt postive and engerized, it was a true blessing to get to share the same space as such an incredible woman. I left with a big smile on my face and wishing I had recorded the whole thing, but her conversation was so engrossing that you forgot about your phone and just wanted to be present soaking it all in.
So, instead of a long post full of highlights and tons of direct quotes I instead will leave you with the top five things I took away from seeing Michelle Obama, accompanied by quotes from her book and past interviews.
The Top 5 things that stuck with me from the Becoming Tour.
“Don’t look at the bankbook or the title. Look at the heart. Look at the soul.”
Dating is hard. It’s hard to find a man who is clear about their intentions, who is brave enough to be vulnerable and state what they want, who will say I want to date you and not give you some vague story that will keep their options open. Because of this we, as women, can get caught up in creating a checklist of what we want in man, what job they have, how much money they make, what degrees they have achieved; but is important to look at the qualities that will carry you through in the long-term. Pay the most attention to the kind of person your potential partner is. How they move through the world, how they treat others, what their core values are and how they make people feel.
“Failing is a crucial part of success. Every time you fail and get back up. You practice perseverance, which is the key to life. Your strength comes in your ability to recover.”
Don’t be afraid to fail, learn from it, grow and move past it. There are tons of people out there, especially men, who fail all the time and usually they fail upwards. Men don’t let failure stop them from achieveing or lead them down a path of serious overthinking and limiting self-doubt, so why should women? Failures, even big ones, don’t set you back and in fact they make wonderful learning oppurtunities. You cannot achieve anything gret in life if you live in fear of failure and if you haven’t failed a few times. Failures offer us our biggest chances at learning. Remember that failure is a part of life but to fail doesn’t mean you didn’t try or are undeserving.
“Am I good enough? Yes I am.”
To become successful or accomplished takes time and hard work and so does loving and accepting yourself. Self-acceptance is an every evolving process, that will continue throughout your entire life. You will not reach a magic age where you wake up and feel completely free of self-doubt, however, you will learn to become better at being your own champion and treating yourself with compassion. In this life, you are always learning about yourself and being confronted with new challenges but each challenge is an opportunity to treat yourself with love and kindness and rise to the occasion. And while you are in the process of rising to the occasion keep reminding yourself that you are in fact good enough.
On owning your story:
“There’s power in allowing yourself to be known and heard, in owning your unique story, in using your authentic voice. And there’s grace in being willing to know and hear others.”
Each and every one of us has a story to tell, it is unique, it is important and it is valid. Don’t be ashamed of your story, it makes you who you are. Tell it and use it to fuel your drive to do good, to work hard and always be learning, to constantly strive to be your best self. A large part of your story is remembering to use your voice, especially for women and minorities. Don’t let being the ‘other’ in the room diminish who you are, use your unique journey and perspective to speak with confidence and make a space for yourself. And when you are making that space for yourself, be sure to remember that you are opening the door not just for you, but for others like you to succeed in that space as well.
“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.”
It is up to you and you alone to decide who you are and who you are becoming. Only you know your story, your intentions and what you are truly capable of. It is important to have champions in your corner (supportive parents, good close girlfriends etc.) but no life, even an extraordinary one, is without doubters, haters and those who will tell you aren’t enough, you don’t belong or you can’t. It is up to you to decide that you are enough and that you can. You choose your story and who you are becoming. We all have the potential for greatness within us. Even the most successful, admirable people (the Michelle Obama’s of the world) are regular people who happened to have had extraordinary journeys and you can too.