On Monday, Michelle Obama celebrated her 58th birthday and, that night, BET aired a special called Becoming: Michelle Obama in Conversation, during which the former first lady sat down with actress and activist Yara Shahidi, as well as a group of college students, to discuss themes from her bestselling memoir such as mental health, diversity and inclusion. Not surprisingly, Michelle had a lot of great advice, particularly when it comes to fear.
That's right. The woman who famously coined: "When they go low, we go high," had even more inspiring pieces of advice Monday, after one student asked her, "What would you say to Black girls who are stuck in that small space? And how would you encourage them to grow as the world around them gets bigger and bigger?"
Obama shared, "Fear is this wonderful concept, right? It's very useful, right? Especially if you grow up in the hood, you need a little fear just to get through the day, you need to be looking over your shoulder. You know, fear keeps you alive in a lot of instances, right? Keeps you safe. But also, fear can keep you stuck."
"My advice for people, what allowed me to step outside of my small six-block area, it was practicing pushing through that fear," continued Obama. "Practicing transition. Practicing facing that precipice, that thing you feel in your stomach, that thing in your brain that tells you to hold back when your heart and soul tells you to go ahead, and you're right at the corner of that."
Obama went on to discuss how parents play into their children's fear, explaining that some kids, who are first-generation college students, don't have parents who understand what they are being sent into.
"Mom doesn't know what college is like. So think about that. You let your baby leave your home to get on a plane to go live somewhere else with people you don't know? So sometimes you have your parents' fears holding you back. My mom went through that. I think one of the most beautiful things about my mother's parenting, my parents' parenting, was they pushed us beyond their fears, they encouraged us to do what they told us they were afraid to do, you know? And that's powerful, right? But the more you practice pushing beyond that point of comfort, the easier it gets," said Obama.
While continuing to discuss pushing through fear, Michelle also recalled the moment Barack came to her with a big idea.
Obama shared, "Treat fear as a challenge, you know? As a muscle. Breaking it is a muscle that you need to develop, right? And that's how, shoot, my husband coming to me, saying, 'I'm gonna run for President, how do you feel about that?' My logical mind said, 'No! No, no, no, no, no, I am very afraid of all of this.' But I had all this practice over my lifetime of jumping over hurdles and using those tools that got me over to say, 'I can do this. I can do this with you. I can do this and keep my children safe. I can do this and be a use to the country, so let's go for it. And if I had said no, I wouldn't be here today, you know? There's a lot of good stuff on the other side of fear, if you, you know, if you learn how to maneuver it."