Becoming by Michelle Obama

Am I good enough? Are you good enough? Are we good enough? 

Yes.

Over the past month, I’ve been reading Michelle Obama’s autobiography, Becoming. The quote above appears in three different parts in the book, with a different pronoun in each, but with the same message: It’s difficult not to question if you are worthy, but it is important to know that you ARE good enough (p. 89, 320, 375). In the book, she discusses her childhood, growing up, and her life with Barack Obama and how this idea of worth applies to all of it. This book is one I’ll keep coming back to and referencing because it’s powerful in many ways. I hope you all pick up a copy of Becoming on your own happy and healthy adventure, but for now, here are some quotes that I found meaningful from the book. ❤ 🙂

Quotes

  • The lesson being that in life you control what you can (33).
  • I soon learned that many questions are just that way. In my own life, I was starting to encounter questions I couldn’t readily answer (39).
  • …recognize the more universal challenge of squaring with who you are with where you come from and where you want to go (41).
  • Our decisions were on us. It was our life, not hers, and always would be (47).
  • … failure is a feeling long before it’s an actual result (66).
  • The noise doesn’t go away, but the most successful people I know have figured out how to live with it, to lean on the people who believe in them, and to push onward with their goals (67).
  • And in the end, I hadn’t needed to show her anything. I was only showing myself (67).
  • Get over it and just live a little (78).
  • This is what a control freak learns inside the compressed otherworld of college, maybe above all else: There are simply other ways of being (81).
  • This may be the fundamental problem with caring a lot about what others think: It can put you on the established path — the my-isn’t-that-impressive path — and I keep you there for a long time. Maybe it stops you from swerving, from ever even considering a swerve, because what you risk losing in terms of other people’s high regard can feel too costly (91).
  • Do we settle for the world as it is, or do we work for the world as it should be? (118). (I italicized this one because this is one of Barack Obama’s quotes featured in her book, not something that she said). 
  • I’m not sure that I ever believed that life was fair, but I had always thought that you could work your way out of just about any problem (127).
  • Life is short and not to be wasted (146).
  • Inspiration on its own was shallow; you had to back it up with hard work (158).
  • They’d dropped any masquerade and were just wonderfully, powerfully, and instructively themselves (169).
  • And happy seemed like a starting place for everything (174).
  • …about impact, about how and where each one of us could make a difference, how best to apportion our time and energy (187).
  • …the world could be brutal and random, that hard work didn’t always assure positive outcomes (225).
  • Life was all about the ticking clock (240).
  • If you don’t get out there and define yourself, you’ll be quickly and inaccurately defined by others (285).
  • I wanted them to learn, to have adventures, to make mistakes and bounce back (293).
  • Life was better, always, when we could measure the warmth (315).
  • I felt sometimes like a swan on a lake, knowing that my job was in part to glide and appear serene, while underwater I never stopped pedaling my legs (329).
  • I knew from experience that even during hard times, maybe especially during hard times, it was still okay to laugh (335).
  • Grief and resilience live together (343).
  • In any given day, we were exposed to so much. Glamour, excellence, devastation, hope (358).
  • Sometimes, the smallest things felt huge (360).
  • Friendships between women, as any woman will tell you, are built of a thousand small kindnesses like these, swapped back and forth and over again (361).
  • Life was teaching me that progress and change happen slowly (370).
  • 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 (382).
  • You belong. You matter. I think highly of you (384).
  • … progress is slow, that they couldn’t afford to simply sit and wait for change to come (387).
  • The dogs added a lightness to everything (392).
  • I said only what I absolutely believed and what I absolutely felt (407).
  • So many of us go through life with our stories hidden, feeling ashamed or afraid when our whole truth doesn’t live up to some established ideal. We grow up with messages that tell us that there’s only one way to be American — that if our skin is dark or our hips are wide, if we don’t experience love in a particular way, if we speak another language or come from another country, then we don’t belong. That is, until someone dares to start telling that story differently (415).
  • This was our bid for permanence: a rising generation that understood what was possible — and that even more was possible for them (416).
  • 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 (419).
  • Becoming requires equal parts patience and rigor. Becoming is never giving up on the idea that there’s more growing to be done (419).
  • It’s not about being perfect. It’s not about where you get yourself in the end. There’s a 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. This, for me, is how be we become (421).

 

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