Life lessons from Michelle Obama

This week, our newsletter coordinator Alanna explores how Michelle Obama's words of wisdom can help inform our personal goals.

As a recent graduate keen to pursue a career in politics, I snapped up a copy of Michelle Obama's Becoming almost as soon as it hit the shelves. Obama has always inspired me with her poise, intelligence, and commitment to the greater good and while reading her incredible story, I made a few notes of the key points and life lessons that she shares throughout, hoping to glean something I could apply to my own life.
 
Looking back on that list, it struck me that my very last point encapsulates the message that Obama defines throughout the book. On the final page she writes "let's invite one another in," imploring her readers to have greater empathy and compassion for one another.
 
Obama embodies this spirit of compassion, of letting one another in and caring for one another. She references the impact that mentors and groups of close female friends have had on her life and has recognized that in her eagerness to serve as a mentor to others. Her emphasis on the importance and the impact of investing in others - letting them know that you support and believe in them - is something that I will carry with me into the New Year.
 
Significantly, Obama also takes special care to emphasize the importance of being compassionate to oneself - to not be afraid to let people know what you need. Life is short, so prioritize what really matters to you - that is what you will remember (and what you will be remembered for).
 
To look outside oneself to the bigger picture and ask what you can give to the world takes courage and determination. To let people in, support them and advocate for their interests as if they were your own takes bravery, and yet, as Michelle Obama notes, the rewards of this are limitless, enriching your life and the lives around you. In an age when our increasing interconnectedness is leading to greater disconnect, perhaps this spirit of compassion for each other, for ourselves, and for our environment, is the most valuable lesson we can emulate in 2019.

Alanna Grogan has recently graduated from McGill University in History and Political Science, and is currently based in Manchester, England.