Michelle Obama has some words of wisdom for her younger self — and we could all stand to hear them. Since the release of her best-selling memoir, Becoming in November, Obama has been making the rounds on the press circuit in an effort to promote it. Watching the confident, assertive woman she is today, it’s hard to imagine her as anything but confident. However, as part of CBS’ Note to Self series, Obama penned a poignant letter to her younger self, the version of herself that existed just ahead of her freshman year at Princeton University. The message the older Obama passed along to her younger self is something we should all hear: You are “more than enough.”
“Dear Miche, 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,” Obama wrote.
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This is me at Princeton in the early 1980s. I know that being a first-generation college student can be scary, because it was scary for me. I was black and from a working-class neighborhood in Chicago, while Princeton’s student body was generally white and well-to-do. I’d never stood out in a crowd or a classroom because of the color of my skin before. But I found close friends and a mentor who gave me the confidence to be myself. Going to college is hard work, but every day I meet people whose lives have been profoundly changed by education, just as mine was. My advice to students is to be brave and stay with it. Congratulations to the Class of 2018! #ReachHigher
“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?’” Obama continued, diving into the thought process of her younger self. “There aren’t many kids who look like you. Some arrived on campus in limousines. One of your classmates is a bona fide movie star, another is rumored to be a real-life princess. Meanwhile, you got dropped off by your father in the family sedan.”
It was only later, Obama, wrote, that she found out her parents had to open new lines of credit to pay her tuition. “But Michelle, what you’ll come to realize one day is that you’re only seeing what you lack and not everything your story has given you,” she said.
Describing now-husband Barack Obama, she wrote, “You’ll open your heart to someone whose upbringing was nothing and everything like yours, all at the same time. He’s driven by a hopeful set of ideals. He’s grounded and he’s absolutely brilliant. And he’s pretty good looking, too. I thought you’d appreciate that.”
She revealed to her younger self, though, that “even the best relationships take work” and “that’s normal and it’s what gives your partnership its strength.”
Still, Obama told her younger self, she should never forget where she came from or the fact that so many others like her are never given any platform from which to be heard.
“There are so many people out there like you, Miche. Black girls and minorities of all kinds, working-class kids from big cities and small towns, people who doubt themselves, who are uncertain about whether they belong but have so much to offer the world. Share your story with them, the struggles and the triumphs and everything else. Show them that there’s more beauty inside than they can see right now,” she wrote.
And with that, Obama drove home her letter with the sentiment central to her message: “You’re more than enough, Miche. You always have been and you always will be. And I can’t wait for you to see that.”