Before the US decides to finally elect a female president, there have always been the First Ladies. And one of the most admirable such ladies in present times is Michelle Obama.
Reluctant to be in the public eye and with a permanent dislike of politics (‘hate’, says her husband Barack Obama in his book ‘A Promised Land
‘, which I am reading now), she has however fulfilled her role, both before and after her husband’s election as president, in a graceful and, most importantly, meaningful manner. It hasn’t been an easy task, with the added honour (and burden) of being the first African-American first lady in the history of the US.
This book is a candid and heartfelt account of her life so far, from her humble beginnings in the South Side neighbourhood of Chicago
to her law studies at Princeton and Harvard; from her soul-crushing corporate job to a realisation that civil and community service (in more than one way) was at the heart of her calling; from the anonymity of a normal life to being thrust in the public eye – first during her husband’s political campaigns and then as First Lady Of The United States.
[It’s only during the Trump presidency that I’ve heard the POTUS
designations being used in mainstream media. I find them quite amusing, to be honest].
It has not been an easy and entirely happy route and I truly admire Michelle Obama’s resilience and strength of character, her humility, and her ability to pick herself up, learn from her mistakes and keep going – moreover, mostly to serve others.
She shows herself and her life as they are, warts and all. There is no glossing over the hard times, the deceptions, the things that went wrong. She also repeats, many times, how much her family and community have helped her and how much they matter.
This is not just the story of Michelle Obama, the individual. This is the story of all those around her, who have nurtured and supported her (or not) along the way, who have spurred her on, believed in her and mentored her.
It is a book about an ambitious professional woman who wants (and does her best) to have it all.
It is also a book about family and community, about connection, love and empowerment.
I didn’t have a role model until now, but after reading this book I can certainly say Michelle Obama is the first to be included in my list of female role models – a list I have just decided to create, because it is necessary. It has long been necessary, but I somehow never attended to it.
The time is now.
Her dedication to the causes that are close to her heart has made me stop and think of my own. What inflames me? What issues are utterly important to me? What has been a prevalent and permanent fixture in my value system? What drives me?
- Equal rights and gender equality
- Social justice
- Community spirit
I know my drives now. I can start building.
Thank you for the inspiration, Ms Michelle Obama.