This is One Good Thing, a weekly column where we tell you about one of the few nice things that happened this week
As a perfect person, it’s hard to imagine Michelle Obama having any doubts about herself. Hasn’t she always assumed that she was brilliant, graceful, and exceptionally good at gardening? Didn’t she always think that she would one day become one of the most powerful people in the world and achieve it by being … nice?
According to Obama’s new memoir, Becoming, she wasn’t always so confident.
Recently, Obama shared a letter with CBS that she wrote to her younger self as a part of its Note to Self series. The letter went immediately viral. In it, Obama addresses her college-age insecurities with her trademark emotional intelligence and grace.
Look at this prose. Somewhere, a therapist is screaming with joy:
“There you are, in your jean jacket and braids, a long way from that little apartment on the South Side of Chicago. You’re at one of the finest universities in the world. You’re smiling, and you should be, you worked hard for this. But even now, after you reached your goal, you’re still not quite sure if you belong and can’t get one question out of your mind: “Am I good enough?” … Years from now, you’ll learn that your parents had to take out new credit cards to pay your tuition. But Michelle, what you’ll come to realize one day is that you’re only seeing what you lack and not everything that your story has given you.”
Just when you think Obama has made this letter all about her, she finds a way to address marginalized folks with considerably less power:
“It will be easy to think you’re something special. Just remember that there are millions of people who grew up like you did and don’t get this kind of spotlight. Reflect the light back on them.”
What made Obama’s letter (and everything she does) so delightful was the reaction she inspired from the people who read it. Take a look at their super earnest responses:
Michelle Obama’s high school counselor told her she wasn’t Princeton material. There’s a message for your students and probably you in her emotional letter to her college-age self: “You’re more than enough”
— Lisa Gurthie (@LisGurthie) December 11, 2018
I’m not crying, you are.
— Molly DeZurik (@MollyDeZurik) December 11, 2018
“Am I good enough?” Michelle Obama asks the question I ask myself almost every hour of the day. Her letter sets me at ease, read it!
— Megan Tom (@MeganJTom) December 11, 2018