I read both Michelle Obama’s “Becoming” and Barack’s “Dreams from my father” and they both recount their trip to Africa to meet Barack’s extended family from his Father’s side in Kenya.
What I found hilarious, relatable and interesting is how they both have such a different perspective on how the trip went.
For Michelle, it was mostly horrible. She didn’t feel the “return to the motherland” that Barack felt. In fact, she felt even more lost. She had an expectation that something inside her would awaken and a sense of belonging would be natural – this did not happen. At all. ?
To top it off the basic inconvenience of not being in a developed nation (flies, no air conditioning, cars that don’t work ) made it even worse for her. It was like a camping trip of the worst possible kind.
Michelle almost questioned why she was marrying him. She was really angered by a number of things that happened on the trip. There was a real disconnect between them.
Barack Obama recounts the trip with simply this — I took Michelle to meet my family in Africa and she was a big hit.
Thats all. ?
Michelle has pages and pages of how she felt about the trip and how difficult it was and how hurt she was. Barack doesn’t even mention it. Not even a tiny hint. Like it didn’t even happen or it wasn’t important. But it was plenty important to Michele. This I find hilarious.
I think this little situation is translatable to any marriage. That is why it is so relatable. Men and women have such different ways of processing and remembering things and this is very obvious in how Michelle and Barack recount their shared life events.
It is interesting to see that Michelle’s side of the story is filled with doubts and silently hoping things turn out fine. Filled with lots of heart ache, feeling ignored, feeling left behind professionally, feeling resentment for having a bigger role in taking care of the kids and home. Filled with expectations not met. Filled with feelings that her husband was not doing “enough”.
Barack’s story is filled with positives. It was great. Here are the facts. Everything is fine. Nothing to see here ….
This is why I loved to read both their stories. On a basic human and emotional level – they are no different than us. Deep down great people accomplishing great things are just humans with all the same rubbish going on in their brains and life.
This gives me hope. Hope that the average and mundane can be great and extraordinary. Hope that beyond the daily struggles of an average life greatness can still survive. It isn’t bound to time, space or genetics, but perhaps just to our own state of mind.