Do you ever have the feeling that despite being an adult, you’re still not done ‘growing up’? Especially when you’re horsing around with the kids and feel like a big kid in charge of little ones? As an expat, I feel that a lot, because you are constantly forced to redefine yourself in the various countries and circumstances, you’re in. The questions of “who am I” “how do others perceive me?” “what do I want to do here?” or “who should my friends be?” present themselves more often than not. It can be quite confronting compared to those in more ‘rooted’ lives who are not subject to their own or others’ examination as much. This isn’t a bad thing, it’s just different, and it can even be a good thing because being forced to answer these questions can make you filter through what’s important and what to let go. Yet, being in a constant state of flux, with many of these questions unanswered can also be disconcerting.
Image via Amazon.com
I recently hit on the right word for this state that may not be as confusing. It is Becoming, the title of Michelle Obama’s latest book. I started reading it this year and haven’t finished it because I’m dragging it out, enjoying every bit of its candid honesty, humor, warmth and hope. I’m a self-confessed Obamas fan, and I mean it in the plural because I admire them as a couple as well as individuals. Do you remember that tear-jerking moment in Barack’s 2017 farewell address when he only had to say Michelle’s name and the crowd rose to a standing ovation? If you weren’t already sobbing, you would have when he emotionally continued “you took on a role you didn’t ask for, and you made it your own with grace, and with grit and style and good humor.” The crowd went even wilder.
I watched that video over and over again as not only was it an apt description of Michelle as FLOTUS, you could palpably feel the strength, authenticity and deep mutual respect of their marriage. Seeing that visually, you wonder how they maintained that through not only raising young children but as the busiest couple in the world. Hence, when Michelle, accomplished, fit, beautiful, passionate and effective hope-giver in times that so desperately needed it wrote her this book, I bought it. I am now lapping up every ounce of positive wisdom she has to share because she clearly rocks at life and I want to know all her secret(s)!
And what are some of those? Well, for starters, there is a positive ‘can do’ spirit about her story that’s also grounded in the realities of hard work and overcoming obstacles. She is a problem solver and knows how to make her resources work despite humble beginnings. These are life lessons worth reflecting on. Another pause-worthy thing she said was in her Preface ‘…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. So far in my life, I’ve been a lawyer. I’ve been a vice president at a hospital and a director of a non-profit that helps young people build meaningful careers.” Hence, her book is divided into three parts – Becoming Me, Becoming Us and Becoming More. Brilliant, no?
There is even more brilliance to be shared, not just from the perspective of the former First Lady, but as a mother, wife and person looking to make the world a better place for others and not just her family. She somehow also manages to stay true to herself and what drives her, though not without a struggle. This is what I admire about the Obamas – their positive vision about their roles in the world, their abilities, and their willingness to grow, adapt and grab the right opportunities to ‘become more.’ I admire this because having recently started a new role, I confided in a friend overseas that I wonder if this is ‘me’ because I never thought I’d be doing this in Shanghai. Without missing a beat, she said: “Well, I like who you are becoming.”
This brings me to my point, as this is my last blog from the Urban Family platform. We live in a time and place where jobs and opportunities are fluid, and globally things won’t look the same in a decade let alone five years! Not only do we need to raise children competent to face a future we can’t fathom, we as individuals, but couples or families also need to evolve, grow and grab the right opportunities. Obama’s book is pertinent to the times because we are, and have to be, in a constant state of ‘Becoming.’ This might be daunting but it is also hopeful because we not only avoid defining our children or their career paths by questions such as “what do you want to be when you grow up?” we can be more forgiving on ourselves and others, for not being as ‘grown up’ as we think we should be.
Image via Shirani Alfreds
So, while this is farewell from this platform, it is not from me, because who knows? This blog could well ‘become’ something else! Whatever the case, I wish you all the luck and wisdom in raising your children to be the proud young citizens of our unfathomable future world. It will be interesting indeed, to watch what they (and you and I) are all…..becoming.
Cover image via Pexels.
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