Well, it took me a little while, but I finally read Becoming. As expected, it was excellent. Since I live in Chicago there’s always someone on my commute reading it, but I still had that feeling you get when you see someone in public reading the same book as you, and you think how you must be destined to be best friends. Except in one morning commute, I saw four people with the same book.
I feel like at this point pretty much everyone knows Barak Obama’s story. I certainly thought so. I worked for one of his opponents in the 2004 Senate race, so I also hear things from people in his district, who weren’t fans. I was young and literally have no recollection of what they said about him. I just remember they didn’t like him. But already people were really excited about him as a candidate. And I was fresh out of college with what I thought would be a long career politics.
Once he won the nomination for Senate, I moved onto another job, on another campaign. Where I met Michelle Obama. Meeting her, and hearing her speak was what made me want to vote for him. Mostly I was against buying into the hype. She was amazing, and I also couldn’t imagine doing all this while continuing your normal life or work, and kids, and activities.
While I enjoyed the stories from her childhood, her upbringing, and education, I mostly appreciated the frankness about the struggle with career and then having to set it aside. The reality of balancing work and children well before the campaigning even started. This is something I know so many women struggle with, and as a (I hate to admit it) millennial, we were raised with the assumption we can have it all. I think so many women struggle because they realize they really can’t have it all, something always suffers, something doesn’t get done to the level you want. Her admitting is so amazing and rare to hear.
Let’s go back to the beginning. Her talking about school. About all her mentors. This is what I think is so amazing about what she does now, and what she did while in the White House. I have been witness to the impact of an adult caring to check in, pull a student aside to ask how things are going, or ask why they weren’t at school, or performing like normal. The impact of one person caring, the difference a mentor can make for students who have everything working against them make all the difference. This is what gets me excited when I see her doing things like celebrating college signing day.
If you haven’t yet read it, and need something that gives you, dare I say hope, during these dark times, this. book. is. for. you.