Michelle Obama made glorious news this week with her incredible Giving Tuesday donation. While I think we were all elated by her generosity, few of us were surprised. This is who she has routinely proven herself to be. As First Lady, she endured so much disrespect, slander and hate and she only ever handled it with grace. She had the right to leave the White House with two middle fingers held to the sky and never look back. But she didn’t, she hit the ground determined to do all the good she could with the programs she put in place. I really do find her extraordinary. So extraordinary that I sometimes forget she’s a real person. Michelle is one of People Magazine’s People of the Year and she spoke about her hugely successful book tour for her memoir Becoming. But what she said surprised me, because she spoke about how nervous she was to go out and expose her vulnerabilities in that way.
“I recognize now that the memoir and the tour were really different than
what I’d done before — I wasn’t promoting a policy or rallying votes; I was out there, alone, talking about my feelings and vulnerabilities,” Obama tells PEOPLE. “That’s enough for anybody to lose a little sleep.”
At the tour’s first stop, in her hometown of Chicago, Obama stopped first at her old high school to meet with students in one of her old classrooms. It was then and there that she began to feel gratitude for the experience that had only started to unfold for her.
“I asked how many of these girls didn’t feel like they belonged in a room with me. Almost every girl raised her hand,” Obama recalls. “That’s been the most powerful part of the last year — talking with all sorts of young people about how the things that we think are our inadequacies are usually our strengths. The simple act of sharing our fears and vulnerabilities helps us embrace our own stories and recognize how much we share with one another.”
Indeed, she says, “Everywhere I went — from Detroit to Copenhagen, Vancouver to Atlanta — I saw this generosity of spirit: people sharing the truth of their lives, no matter how messy or imperfect, as a way to offer each other a little more grace.”
I can’t quite explain it, but the line about Michelle asking the young ladies who felt like they didn’t belong in a room with her really spoke to me. Not only because I would have raised my hand, but about how much Michelle is connected to the people in this country.
As for the insecurities of which she speaks, putting them in context like she did makes them so much more relatable. It would be easy to write these off as empty comments because, c’mon – she spoke at the Democratic National Convention, how can Barnes and Noble intimidate her? But again, that’s not her point. It was the subject that freaked her out and that she was speaking as Michelle Obama the person, not the First Lady. I know that not making the effort to get out and see her on her book tour will be a regret I will always carry.
I’m going back and forth on Ellen DeGeneres’ latest feel-good show, Ellen’s Greatest Night of Giveaways. I love that sappy stuff but I’m a little soured on Ellen right now. Then I watched this clip in which Michelle walks into a school and the reaction from those children and teachers and, yeah, I’m here for it. I’ll just turn to something else for the Timberlake bit.
Photo credit: People and WENN Photos
When we had a real First Lady.. That’s all I got.
She looks even better now! I love the sparkly outfits.
She is a strong, intelligent, successful woman. I´ll never completely understand her insecurities.
It’s called Impostor Syndrome and it is very common in outwardly accomplished, succesful people but hits Black Women especially hard. It’s a really weird disconnect between how the world sees you i.e. the paper version of you and how you see yourself. The way I describe it is like seeing a beautiful, well iced cake. You gush over it but the baker is seeing the ounce of butter she was lacking in the mix, the flower that’s out of place etc. The outside world sees the finished product but you know all the steps you missed and all the things you could have done better.
Doesn’t everyone have insecurities? I think that is one of the most common traits that bind us as humans regardless of gender, age, level of accomplishments, ethnicities, background, etc. We all have that little voice in the head saying “seriously!?!” about ourselves. You just learn to say damn straight!!!
I missed her book tour too and I’m just sad about that. But gosh. I just love her.
I’m not a complete Michelle-Stan like some on the board but I do admire her greatly and the ease with which she filled that role was truly unique. Love for her husband but not adoring googoo eyes like the Bushes and the Reagans. Ease with people of all backgrounds. And not thinking the role was beneath her, like Hillary Clinton sometimes came off as.
she is timeless and carries herself wit a quiet grace and elegance that Melancholia (its a typo and it stays) tries to emulate but never will.
I. Am. HOWLING!!!!!
Instant add to my snark vocabulary.
I am a Michelle and Barack fan hard-core and for life. I’ll stan for them forever. Also admire the Clintons tremendously. Jimmy Carter has done more good post-presidency than any other president I can think of. Of course, Eleanor Roosevelt is the gold standard of First Ladies. Jackie was stylish and I guess The One We Have Now tries to style herself after Jackie. But just no. Not ever. Not on the best day of her life. We are woebegone just now in the department of First Ladies (and obviously presidents).
My mom and I went to her tour. She was incredible, and I was seriously considering following her like it was as Phish tour.
Her book tour was at huge venues! The stadium where i saw lady gaga, shania twain, fleetwood mac and bon segar is where her book tour was.
Im not familiar with book tours being that popular