You don't like yourself today
You’re sitting in a small call booth in your office this slow Wednesday afternoon, where you’ve dreamed about going to my bed than anything else.
You’re reading Michelle Obama’s Becoming, following the ebb and flow of her life growing up as a disciplined and ambitious young girl from the South Side of Chicago, to eventually becoming the first African-American First Lady of the United States. Hers is a life made great by the culmination of a series of small, good, responsible choices. Hers is a life anchored on her parents sacrifice and her own dogged determination to be the best at whatever is thrust upon her. She somehow manages to excel even at things she doesn’t like. You’re jealous of that ability.
You see yourself in Michelle Obama.
Like yours, her birth family is one that loves and cares for her. Like yours, her mother stays home in Michelle and her brother’s formative years, thrusting herself wholly into caring for them, and investing heavily in their education, as though she is vicariously being educated through them. Her father is steadfast, never complaining, never openly discussing the sacrifices he makes to keep their families afloat- ensuring that everyone is well catered to, never lacking, never wanting and not having.
You read the bit about Michelle and Barack’s marriage and wonder how she made it through the long periods of separation. Those years when she saw him for only half the week. You wonder how she managed to drag herself - and her two children - forward.
Then it hits you.
Michelle Obama is able to hold down her own life and her family because she’s wholly herself.
She’s not allowing the outside forces of her husband’s growing political career and fame, which culminate in him becoming arguably the most powerful human on earth- the President of the United States, to define her life. Michelle dictates what it means to be Barack Obama’s wife, only as Michelle could do it. And steadily holds the steering wheel of her life. She does life on her own terms. Not in an irresponsible way that doesn’t care for those around her. But in a way that’s neat but that doesn’t compromise on her own personhood.
But why does this make you a little sad?
You realize that you don’t like the you of today.
You haven’t liked yourself much for months now. You’ve lost that girly spark that made the world a dream. You’ve lost that ambition that put you on a flight at 16, to a school and a country that neither you or your parents had ever visited. You’ve lost that fire that burned through nights and sentences and paragraphs, and birthed a solid 150-page long miracle of short stories.
You don’t know where that little girl is anymore. That one who truly believed that the world was her oyster. That one who believed that she was, and deserved the best.
Her girly spark has been replaced with a log in your chest, that just won’t leave. It’s made your once bright and colorful days dull and lethargic. It’s made what should be an adventure of a lifetime in a new city and exciting job become a drab and torturous routine.
Thanks to the Holy Spirit, who speaks in the most gentle of voices, you realize that you haven’t done many things for yourself in the last few months. You have nothing to look forward to. You haven’t taken any active steps towards building your dream. You don’t even know what that dream is. All you know if that you look well put together, with smooth hydrated skin, a toned healthy body, motivated mind, giving heart, and resourceful hands.
You’ve grown lazy, and you’ve sort of just let adult life happen.
The realization is both painful and relieving. You finally know what it is. You’ve placed a finger on it. No one owes you happiness, no one will deliver it to you. Only you can plow through the modalities of your day to find the burst of joy and the horizon that is promised to those who are courageous enough to create the reality they want.
How do you feel now? Happy? Scared? Excited?
For the most part, you’re grateful. Grateful that you’ve at least found one more brick towards the institution that your life is destined to be.
God is good.