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Becoming – Michelle Obama

  • “Your story is what you have, what you will always have. It is something to own.” 
  • “For every door that’s been opened to me, I’ve tried to open my door to others. And here is what I have to say, finally: Let’s invite one another in. Maybe then we can begin to fear less, to make fewer wrong assumptions, to let go of the biases and stereotypes that unnecessarily divide us. Maybe we can better embrace the ways we are the same. It’s not about being perfect. It’s not about where you get yourself in the end. 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. This, for me, is how we become.”
  • “Now I think it’s one of the most useless questions an adult can ask a child—What do you want to be when you grow up? As if growing up is finite. As if at some point you become something and that’s the end.”
  • “If you don’t get out there and define yourself, you’ll be quickly and inaccurately defined by others.”
  • “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 keep you there for a long time.” 
  • “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.” 
  • “Everyone on Earth, they’d tell us, was carrying around an unseen history, and that alone deserved some tolerance.” 
  • “Failure is a feeling long before it becomes an actual result. It’s vulnerability that breeds with self-doubt and then is escalated, often deliberately, by fear.” 
  • “Friendships between women, as any woman will tell you, are built of a thousand small kindnesses… swapped back and forth and over again.”
  • “It hurts to live after someone has died. It just does. It can hurt to walk down a hallway or open the fridge. It hurts to put on a pair of socks, to brush your teeth. Food tastes like nothing. Colors go flat. Music hurts, and so do memories. You look at something you’d otherwise find beautiful—a purple sky at sunset or a playground full of kids—and it only somehow deepens the loss. Grief is so lonely this way.”
  • “Time, as far as my father was concerned, was a gift you gave to other people.” 
  • “His money went largely toward books, which to him were like sacred objects, providing ballast for his mind.” 
  • “Even if we didn’t know the context, we were instructed to remember that context existed. Everyone on earth, they’d tell us, was carrying around an unseen history, and that alone deserved some tolerance.”
  • “I didn’t want them ever to believe that life began when the man of the house arrived home. We didn’t wait for Dad. It was his job now to catch up with us.” 
  • “At fifty-four, I am still in progress, and I hope that I always will be.” 
  • “The lesson being that in life you control what you can.”
  • “I began to understand that his version of hope reached far beyond mine: It was one thing to get yourself out of a stick place, I realized. It was another thing entirely to try and get the place itself unstuck.”
  • “Hearing them, I realised that they weren’t all at smarter than the rest of us. They were simply emboldened, floating on an ancient tide of superiority, buoyed by the fact that history had never told them anything different.” 
  • “I’ve learned that it’s harder to hate up close.” 
  • “We live by the paradigms we know.”