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BREW: Becoming by Michelle Obama

Welcome to my very first BREW: a book review series that serves to perpetuate personal impression of one’s masterpiece. PS. I’m not sure how committed I’d be, but it feels good to get past my doubt and create something new. Hope you enjoy it!


If you have read my story about passion, you might already sense that I’m a firm believer of the famous “anyone could be anything if you put your heart into it” phrase. Or at least that’s what I’m trying to be. Nonetheless, I believe in hard work and big dreams. I believe a gentle heart is stronger than a stubborn head. I believe in progress and continued process. I believe it’s not about who we were yesterday, but what we want to become tomorrow. I believe in the art of becoming.

I began reading memoir of our beloved former FLOTUS, Michelle Obama, a few months ago after I decided to give up on Sapiens (halfway to go!).

To be honest, I didn’t consider myself fan of memoir as I found it a bit dragging and boring. I loved Murakami, but I had to put What I Talk About When I Talk About Running down after chewed out 100 pages.

Until Becoming proved me wrong. It took the right combination of interesting stories, curiosity and writing skill to reach my soft spot for an intimate reading experience.

Michelle managed to appear as a loving mother, a reliable friend, and a big sister I never have. Throughout the reading, I felt my heart melt here and there. And by the end of the reading, I was overwhelmed by the emotions I rarely had these past months. Relieved, happy, powerful, grateful.

In the spirit of sharing-is-caring, I’d love to share some life lessons with each one of you who might need a shoulder tap that strengthens, or a hug that soothes.


Get Out of Comfort Zone

“The fundamental problem with caring a lot about what others think: it can put you on the established path—the oh-my-isn’t-that-impressive path—and keep you there for a long time. Although you yourself are not called.”

Ouch. I just got slapped pretty hard by reality which confirmed my fear and doubts. The last time I got this kind of slap was when a former colleague of mine, Dixie, decided to leave her job as a reservoir engineer and pursue her love for photography. I wish I had her courage, I murmured. Take a leap of faith, she reminded us.

Everyone has their own considerations and priorities when it comes to career picking. Some desire prestigious job in a skyscrapper, some value high earnings, some seek a place of comfort. This isn’t our place to judge.

The thing is, does that go well with your other, bigger plans? Do you feel fulfilled? Are you called?


Bring Change—not only for yourself, but for others

“It was one thing to get yourself out of a stuck place. It was another thing entirely to try and get the place itself unstuck.”

Confession: every time shit happens, what lies on the top of my mind was how to get out of the situation immediately without causing as little damage as possible. Flight is my default response. Or Freeze. Basically anything that doesn’t require me to Fight or confront the situation. What a chicken, I know.

Then I learned to acknowledge my own feelings; separate comfort and growth, doubt and despair. When I said no to new opportunities, it wasn’t because I didn’t feel called or find it fulfilling. Oftentimes, it was just me being too scared to fail and let people down—which eventually at some point in life, we all will. Big time.

If you care enough to put your own fears aside and try to understand theirs, you’ll find the purpose you’ve been seeking this whole time.



“I was supposed to stand out without overshadowing others, to blend in but not fade away.”

Being humble is a thing, but not giving enough credits for yourself is another. You’re the one who knows how much the hard work you put into it. Every drop of sweat matters. Michelle taught me to praise ourselves enough while ensuring to recognize others’ along the way.


(Parental) Love & Trust

“Handle it how you think best,” said Mrs. Robinson to teenage Michelle. Another small push out into the world. A mother knew her kids would make the right choice, the quiet confidence that she’d raised them to be adults.

We all know the profound love that Barrack and Michelle share. But perhaps, not so much about Mrs. Robinson, Michelle’s mother. Despite living in a rather impoverished conditions, she always managed to satisfy her hunger for growth and warmth by providing a sincere trust that goes a long way.

I wish I could relate to this.

I think I can never understand how parenting works. What works for who and why. I had so many questions about the decisions my parents made for me when I was little, but deep down, I knew their love wasn’t one of them.


Continuous Improvement

“Becoming isn’t about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. I see it instead as forward motion, a means of evolving, a way to reach continuously toward a better self. The journey doesn’t end.”

The quote says it all. Self development isn’t a project with fixed deadline. Changing a habit or mastering new skills may takes a lifetime, but the process goes on. As long as you accept your flaws and life’s imperfections, no one can use it against you.

I accept the fact that my writing will never be perfect and for that I’m grateful because then I always have another chance to improve. Progress over perfection, no?

One Comment

  1. I LOVED reading Becoming and I adore Michelle Obama! Her grit, persistence, and intelligence shine in the book, and I also got ‘slapped’ a few times while reading it 😀

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