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[Review sách] Becoming

Becoming

I would say I like the title of the book. Michelle’s book has been recommended on Goodreads in the Memoir genre. Similarly, it is listed as one of the most read books for many weeks on Amazon and one of the recommended books by Oprah.

If before – when people think of Michelle Obama, they would think about the First Lady – the wife of Barack Obama. But I bet after you read this book, you could relate more to her more than the First Lady, but a human like you who also has the same worries, the same challenges, the same doubts about herself, or like Michelle said in her book “I’m an ordinary person who found herself on an extraordinary journey”.

The book consists of three chapters: Becoming Me, Becoming Us and Becoming More. Becoming Me leads us through how Michelle becomes like her now. Becoming Us is a chapter about the relationship between Michelle and Barack – it’s not about her only, but about them, about their family. And becoming more where she tells us her story of becoming the First Lady – it’s now not stop at her family, but more than that, about her country – the United States of America.

Becoming is easy to read – Michelle does not use complicated and distant words to tell her story. She uses simple words to get connected with the readers. And it works – for me to get connected with her.

Some of my favorites in Becoming

Preface

“When I was a kid, my aspirations were simple. I wanted a dog. I wanted a house that had stairs in it – two floors for one family. I wanted, for some reason, a four-door station wagon instead of the two-door Buick that was my father’s pride and joy. I used to tell people that when I grew up, I was going to be a pediatrician. Why? Because I loved being around little kids and I quickly learned that it was a pleasing answer for adults to hear. Oh, a doctor! What a good choice! In those days, I wore pigtails and bossed my older brother around and man-aged, always and no matter what, to get As at school. I was ambitious, though I didn’t know exactly what I was shooting for. 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.”

Growing up in the Asian culture, it seems like everyone can relate to this. A pressure to get As at school, to be best and compare with others – without knowing what is the point of this? A pressure to be a doctor, a teacher, a lawyer, etc – some high-ranking jobs in society – for what? Because “it was a pleasing answer for adults to hear”. And I wish we could raise our kids in the future to pursue what they like, to figure what they are passionate about, not to please their parents and those adults, but to find their own voice in this world.

Her love with Barack, but also her worries in their relationship

“All this inborn confidence was admirable, of course, but honestly, try living with it. For me, coexisting with Barack’s strong sense of purpose, sleeping in the same bed with it, sitting at the breakfast table with it, was something to which I had to adjust, not because he flaunted it exactly, but because it was so alive. In the presence of his certainty, his notion that he could make some sort of difference in the world, I couldn’t help but feel a little bit lost by comparison.”

And more on how their relationship matures over time, all the arguments they have, from their opinions on marriage, when Barack wanted to involve in politics, when they had difficulty to be pregnant, when Barack was too busy with his work when running for president and he had to balance between a husband, a father and a politician, or the time they needed to go to marriage counselor. It just relates to any other normal relationship – I think. And I learn for a relationship to work, it needs the efforts from both sides, and love is the foundation of any relationship – but to make it work, it requires more than that.

Michelle’s job changing

“My father was just fifty-five when he died. Suzanne had been twenty-six. The lesson there was simple: Life is short and not to be wasted. If I died, I didn’t want people remembering me for the stacks of legal briefs I’d written or the corporate trademarks I’d helped defend. I felt certain that I had something more to offer the world. It was time to make a move.”

So why wait? Why settling for something that you know in another 20-30 years, you will regret? “Life is short and not to be wasted” – Someone always reminds me this.

“.. He acknowledged that there was no way we could predict how exactly we’d manage things, given that neither of us wanted to be locked into the comfortable predictability of a lawyer’s life. But the bottom line was that we were far from poor and our future was promising, maybe even more promising for the fact that it couldn’t be easily planned.

His was the lone voice telling me to just go for it, to erase the worries and go toward whatever I thought would make me happy. – The unknown wasn’t going to kill me.

Don’t worry, Barack was saying. You can do this. We’ll figure it out.

The unknown wasn’t going to kill you. Remember this.

Michelle’s in her choice between career and family

“My considerable blessings in life were now causing a kind of psychic whiplash. I’d been raised to be confident and see no limits, to believe I could go after and get absolutely anything I wanted. And I wanted everything. Because, as Suzanne would say, why not? I wanted to live with the hat-tossing, independent-career-woman zest of Mary Tyler Moore, and at the same time I gravitated toward the stabilizing, self-sacrificing, seemingly bland normalcy of being a wife and a mother. I wanted to have a work life and a home life, but with some promise that one would never fully squelch the other. I hoped to be exactly like my own mother and at the same time nothing like her at all. It was an odd and confounding thing to ponder. Could I have everything? Would I have everything? I had no idea.”

This may be the thing that almost every woman struggles in herself. The balance between work life and home life. Like us, Michelle also faces with this struggle. She used to have no idea. But time passes, we thought we could not, but I believe when we put ourselves in this situation, we would find a way. Like Barack said, “You can do this. We’ll figure it out.”

Michelle’s last words in her book

“Let’s invite one another in. 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.”

I believe the same. Every person has her own story – to be told and to be heard. Embrace yourself to be vulnerable, to be more open, to be more compassionate – to understand our differences, and we find the grace and wonder in that.

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