Michelle Obama writes powerfully in her autobiography, Becoming, about her own life, but her words speak directly to me:
“It’s not about being perfect,” Michelle says, “it’s not about where you get yourself in the end. At fifty-four, I am still in progress, and I hope that I always will be.”
Michelle continues, “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 towards a continually better self.”
“The journey doesn’t end,” she goes on. “I became a mother, but I still have a lot to learn from and give to my children. I became a wife, but I continue to adapt to and be humbled by what it means to truly love and make a life with another person. I have become by certain measures, a person of power, and yet there are moments still when I feel insecure or unheard.”
“It’s all a process,” Michelle concludes, “steps along a path. Becoming requires equal parts patience and rigor. Becoming is never giving up on the idea that there’s more growing to be done.”
And Michelle goes further in the three major sections of the book which are called:
- Becoming me,
- Becoming us, and
- Becoming more
Throughout the arc of her life story, Michelle recognizes, over and over again, that the becoming is never done. And though she didn’t intend it this way, I read her autobiography as a lesson directed at me.
I am not finished becoming the best version of me when I connect to my wife in marriage, and I’m not done evolving my marriage and other relationships, even as I also devote myself to larger community and professional goals.
- Becoming me is about my practices of mindfulness, gratitude and purpose, turning inward, so I can then turn outward.
- Becoming us is about my connection with my wife, and also about all of the other relationships I want to cultivate and nurture. How can I relate authentically and humanely on a one-on-one basis, including making amends when I have wronged others?
- And becoming more is about my communal and professional commitments. I relate this to giving back, paying it forward, leaving my small part of the world at least a little better than where I first found it.
Every day represents a new opportunity to become a better “me”, a better partner, and a better contributor to the larger world.
Reflecting on Michelle Obama’s words in forum, we might explore:
- Michelle observes that the continual act of becoming requires equal parts patience and rigor. In the coming year, what do each of us need more of, patience or rigor, or something else?
- What does “becoming me”, “becoming us”, or “becoming more” mean for each of us?
- How can we, in our forum, support each other in becoming more of who we want to be?
With the support of our forum, may each of us be able to say a year from now: I’m not done becoming, but I’ve made some progress.