Michelle Obama to young people: ‘practice pushing through the fear’

Michelle Obama at the virtual DNC
Forever First Lady, Michelle Obama, celebrated her 58th birthday Monday. Michelle shares a birthday with Betty White, James Earl Jones, Jim Carrey and Muhammad Ali. Michelle decided to be an inspiration to college students for her birthday. Michelle sat down with Yara Shahidi for BET’s Becoming: Michelle Obama in Conversation which aired on Monday. In her conversation with Yara, Michelle addressed student audience about pushing past their fears. Michelle said that the practice of not allowing fear to stop us is like exercising a muscle. Michelle also stated that parents should not project their own fears onto their children. Below are a few more highlights via Yahoo! Entertainment:

“My advice for people, what allowed me to step outside of my small six-block area, it was practicing pushing through that fear,” continued Obama. “Practicing transition. Practicing facing that precipice, that thing you feel in your stomach, that thing in your brain that tells you to hold back when your heart and soul tells you to go ahead, and you’re right at the corner of that.”

Obama went on to discuss how parents play into their children’s fear, explaining that some kids, who are first-generation college students, don’t have parents who understand what they are being sent into.

“Mom doesn’t know what college is like. So think about that. You let your baby leave your home to get on a plane to go live somewhere else with people you don’t know? So sometimes you have your parents’ fears holding you back. My mom went through that. I think one of the most beautiful things about my mother’s parenting, my parents’ parenting, was they pushed us beyond their fears, they encouraged us to do what they told us they were afraid to do, you know? And that’s powerful, right? But the more you practice pushing beyond that point of comfort, the easier it gets,” said Obama.

“Treat fear as a challenge, you know? As a muscle. Breaking it is a muscle that you need to develop, right? And that’s how, shoot, my husband coming to me, saying, ‘I’m going to run for President, how do you feel about that?’ My logical mind said, ‘No! No, no, no, no, no, I am very afraid of all of this.’ But I had all this practice over my lifetime of jumping over hurdles and using those tools that got me over to say, ‘I can do this. I can do this with you. I can do this and keep my children safe. I can do this and be a use to the country, so let’s go for it. And if I had said no, I wouldn’t be here today, you know? There’s a lot of good stuff on the other side of fear, if you, you know, if you learn how to maneuver it.”

[From Yahoo! Entertainment]

I will forever love Michelle Obama and am not ashamed to admit that I voted for Barack because of her. I was not able to find a full video of Michelle’s conversation with Yara. The excerpts I’ve seen are definitely things that everyone needs to hear, no matter their age. I needed this advice when I was younger. I went out into the world at 18 without guidance because I was making choices that no one in my family had made. The mistakes, fears, stumbles, and triumphs were all mine to claim. Thank the goddess for the few people who came into my life to help me navigate. There was so much truth in what Michelle said about how we can take on the fears of our family. Much of my fear was definitely inherited. But once I realized those fears were not mine, it made my life that much easier. Courage is not the absence of fear but the willingness to push past it. As Michelle said, the more we push past our fears, the easier it becomes over time. Courage is a muscle that must be exercised daily. I am looking forward to watching this conversation in its entirety because the Forever First Lady has dropped some amazing nuggets of wisdom.

Michelle Obama and Yara Shahidi via YouTube

mall>Photos credit: Instar and via YouTube and Instagram

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12 Responses to “Michelle Obama to young people: ‘practice pushing through the fear’”

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  1. DuchessL says:

    Michelle is absolutely right. Fear is a great opportunity and the more practice we get pushing through our fears the better we get at it and the more strong & accomplished. That is how character is built. It’s the only way to get courage.

  2. Wiglet Watcher says:

    It’s excellent advice for anyone at any stage of their life. Michelle is just great.

  3. josephine says:

    Amazing advice. I think we have a real problem distinguishing between fear that signals real danger/unsafe conditions and fear that signals discomfort and change. We do our kids a disservice trying to rid their lives of all discomfort. I’ve totally been guilty of that myself, and regret it.

    • Sarah says:

      That feeling of discomfort is definitely a tough one. It took me a whole to realize that I couldn’t be a good ally until I acknowledged that I will feel uncomfortable and that’s okay.

      I manage young staff and some of them really struggle with feeling uncomfortable. They want training for every single possible scenario and I have to keep telling them to do their best and ask for help at the time if you need it. We can’t predict every single thing that’s going to come up. Sometimes you have to just use your judgement.

    • lucy2 says:

      This is a really good point.
      Minor example, but we had an intern who wanted to get work in this industry, but was afraid to do anything. ANYTHING. Like couldn’t make copies on her own, was afraid to answer the phone, anything. I tried for quite a while to help her, but she was comfortable saying “I can’t” and never pushed herself to try. I gave up, and we ended her internship. There is no way she’s ever going to follow her dream to this career if she won’t push herself even a little.

  4. Alarmjaguar says:

    She is so wonderful! And this is great advice.

  5. FHMom says:

    The amount of fear in kids these days is unbelievable. I know a few of my daughter’s friends won’t drive because of it. I think we have done our children a disservice by swooping in and helping them out at the first sign of a problem. It’s parental instinct, but we have to try and hold back. I am working on that, and it’s incredibly difficult, but I keep reminding myself that I won’t always be here for them.

  6. Ashley says:

    “There is a lot of good stuff on the other side of fear.” Wow. As someone who deals with anxiety, this really speaks to me. That’s going to become my new mantra when anxiety/fear is holding me back.

  7. MissMarirose says:

    “Courage is a muscle that must be exercised daily.”

    So true!

  8. jferber says:

    I love you, Michelle Obama. Queen.

  9. Gingerly says:

    So much respect and admiration for her wisdom, and ability to articulate it in such a direct simple way. She’s really talking to people, you know? “Treat fear as a challenge…as a muscle.”

  10. Kg says:

    Yes! The fear I find most debilitating to young people today is fear of COVID. They need to live their lives! Push through that fear.