Based on her award winning memoir, the Netflix documentary, Becoming, tells the story of Michelle Obama's life. Before she met her husband, she was a successful lawyer and a graduate of two distinguished universities, Princeton and Harvard. Aside from her academic and professional successes, Michelle is an inspiration. The former first lady of the United States is the true definition of resilience.
Born on the southside of Chicago, Michelle fought against the stereotypes associated with African Americans, and the area she grew up in. Despite these ideals, Michelle strove for excellence in everything she did. One admirable quote came about in a discussion about Michelle's decision to attend Princeton. She wanted to follow in her big brother, Craig Robinson's footsteps by attending the school. Her high school guidance counselor tried to discourage Michelle from chasing after her dreams of becoming a Princeton Tiger. While reflecting Michelle stated,
"I ended up going to Princeton. I was one of a handful of minority students, and it was the first time in my life where I stood out like that. I learned that one of my roommates moved out because her mother was horrified that I was black. She felt her daughter was in danger. I wasn't prepared for that. In hindsight, I think I needed to go to Princeton to see for myself what all this was that I wasn't good enough for."
Despite the opposition she faced from someone who was supposed to be her mentor, Michelle made her dreams a reality. Though it wasn't easy to attend a predominately white institution, Michelle succeeded. Her story is a reminder that despite what anyone believes, the only opinion that really matters is your own. If you believe that you can do something, do it. No matter what anyone says.
Michelle followed this same thought process throughout the rest of her life. Campaigning alongside her husband, President Barack Obama, was not easy. Political commentators, citizens, and all kinds of people with negative opinions about her husband not only attacked him but Michelle. She made it very apparent throughout the film that it felt like everything she did was being examined as if she were always under a microscope.
Michelle mentioned that there were times she decided to read from a teleprompter on the campaign trail instead of speaking freely as she once did. Michelle felt like she had to do this to make sure that nothing she said would be taken out of context. As an extremely intelligent, outstanding woman, I can only imagine the pain she went through in being silenced in that way. This quote that stuck out in the film about her husband's last day in office sums up how she felt.
"When I got on the plane, I think I sobbed for thirty minutes. And, I think it was just the release of eight years of trying to do everything perfectly."
Hearing these sentiments, it makes me happy that she is able to slowly get back to some form of normalcy. Although the work she and her husband accomplished in office was monumental and paved the way for future generations of the United States of America, I'm happy that she can breathe now. Her honesty teaches the viewer that it is okay to feel overwhelmed. And though many of us will never experience that type of pressure, it is still easy to relate to how Michelle felt.
There are so many wonderful parts that I'd like to highlight from the film. But one that stood out the most explains why Michelle Obama is truly resilient. There are several moments during the film where Michelle is sitting down with young women and discussing their futures in regards to college and the careers they hope to pursue. One woman posed a question to her about how Michelle was able to persevere as a black woman while facing invisibility in spaces where black women had never been before. Michelle simply said,
"For me, I never felt invisible. And I think in thinking through my story about why I do not now feel invisible, I think it's because my parents made me always feel visible."
She went on to explain that the feeling of invisibility comes from a perception we may have about ourselves. And ultimately to combat those feelings, we have to feel seen on our own. Because waiting for the world to feel equal isn't practical, instead we have to believe in ourselves and make ourselves feel seen.
Michelle Obama has faced all kinds of adversity and continued to live life with the kind of tenacity many of us strive for. She is an inspiration for women and men all across America and the globe. Her resiliency will never be forgotten.