2. “Friendships between women, as any woman will tell you, are built of a thousand small kindnesses, swapped back and forth and over again.”

3. “One of the lessons that I grew up with was to always stay true to yourself and never let what somebody else says distract you from your goals.”

4. “I had learned through my years of trying to find balance in my life that it was okay to flip those priorities and care only for ourselves once in a while.”

5. “He’s always asking, ‘Is that new? I haven’t seen that before.’ It’s like, why don’t you mind your own business? Solve world hunger. Get out of my closet.”

6. “For me, becoming isn’t about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. I see it instead as forward motion—a means of evolving, a way to reach continuously toward a better self. The journey doesn’t end.”

7. “Time, as far as my father was concerned, was a gift you gave to other people.”

8. “Your story is what you have—what you will always have. It is something to own.”

9. “It’s vulnerability that breeds with self-doubt and then is escalated, often deliberately, by fear.”

10. “Now, I think it’s one of the most useless questions an adult can ask a child, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ As if growing up is finite. As if at some point you become something and that’s the end.”

11. “There’s power in allowing yourself to be known and heard, in owning your unique story, in using your authentic voice. And there’s grace in being willing to know and hear others. This, for me, is how we become.”

12. “Trust your instincts. Good relationships feel good. They feel right. They don’t . They’re not painful. That’s not just with somebody you want to marry, but it’s with the friends that you choose. It’s with the people you surround yourselves with.”

13. “You can’t make decisions based on fear and the possibility of what might happen.”

14. “For every door that’s been opened to me, I’ve tried to open my door to others.”

15. “If you don’t get out there and define yourself, you’ll be quickly and inaccurately defined by others.”

16. “Everyone on earth, they’d tell us, was carrying around an unseen history, and that alone deserved some tolerance.”

17. “Do we settle for the world as it is, or do we work for the world as it should be?”

18. “Let’s invite one another in. Maybe then we can begin to fear less, to make fewer wrong assumptions, to let go of the biases and stereotypes that unnecessarily divide us. Maybe we can better embrace the ways we are the same.”

19. “Failure is a feeling long before it’s an actual result.”

20. “Women endure entire lifetimes of these indignities—in the form of catcalls, groping, assault, oppression. These things injure us. They sap our strength.”


21. “When I hear about negative and false attacks, I really don’t invest any energy in them, because I know who I am.”

22. “At 54, I am still in progress, and I hope that I always will be.”

23. “Dignity has always gotten us through. It was a choice, and not always the easy one, but the people I respected most in life made it again and again, every single day.”

24. “Even if we didn’t know the context, we were instructed to remember that context existed.”

25. “The choice, as he saw it, was this—you give up or you work for change.”

26. “The lesson being, that in life, you control what you can.”

27. “This may be the fundamental problem with caring a lot about what others think—It can put you on the established path—the my-isn’t-that-impressive path—and keep you there for a long time.”

28. “Just do what works for you, because there will always be someone who thinks differently.”

29. “People who are truly strong lift others up. People who are truly powerful bring others together.”

30. “I have had to learn that my voice has value. And if I don’t use it, what’s the point of being in the room?”

31. “Don’t be afraid. Be focused. Be determined. Be hopeful. Be empowered.”

32. “I had nothing or I had everything. It depends on which way you want to tell it.”

33. “It’s all a process—steps along a path. Becoming requires equal parts patience and rigor. Becoming is never giving up on the idea that there’s more growing to be done.”

34. “I hate diversity workshops. Real change comes from having enough comfort to be really honest and say something very uncomfortable.”

35. “Focus on what you can control. Be a every day. Vote. Read. Treat one another kindly. Follow the law. Don’t tweet nasty stuff.”

35. “Am I good enough? Yes, I am.”

37. “I’ve learned that it’s harder to hate up close.”

38. “No one, I realized, was going to look out for me unless I pushed for it.”

39. “When someone is cruel or acts like a bully, you do not stoop to their level.”

40. “Most people were good people if you just treated them well.”

41. “Because the process of striving and struggling, and —that’s how you develop your God-given talent. That’s how you make yourself stronger, and smarter, and more able to make a difference for others.”

42. “And Barack and I were raised with so many of the same values—like, you work hard for what you want in life; that your word is your bond; that you do what you say you’re going to do; that you treat people with dignity and respect, even if you don’t know them and even if you don’t agree with them.”

43. “I’d been raised to be confident and see no limits, to believe I could go after and get absolutely anything I wanted. And I wanted everything.”

44. “I hoped to be exactly like my own mother and at the same time nothing like her at all. It was an odd and confounding thing to ponder. Could I have everything? Would I have everything? I had no idea.”

45. “The punches hurt, even if I understood that they had little to do with who I really was as a person.”

46. “I was determined to be someone who told the truth, using my voice to lift up the voiceless when I could, and to not disappear on people in need.”

47. “We live by the paradigms we know.”

48. “I’m not loud, I just have a lot to say.”

49. “I now tried out a new hypothesis—it was possible that I was more in charge of my happiness than I was allowing myself to be.”

50. “It was dignity I wanted to make an appeal for—the idea that as a nation, we might hold on to the core thing that had sustained my family, going back generations.”

51. “He had a simple, buoying faith that if you stuck to your principles, things would work out.”

52. “We should always have three friends in our lives—one who walks ahead who we look up to and follow; one who walks beside us, who is with us every step of our journey; and then, one who we reach back for and bring along after we’ve cleared the way.”

53. “A happy marriage can be a vexation—that it’s a contract best renewed and renewed again, even quietly and privately—even alone.”

54. “I didn’t want them ever to believe that life began when the man of the house arrived home. We didn’t wait for Dad. It was his job now to catch up with us.”

55. “Grief and live together.”

56. “I was deeply, delightfully in love with a guy whose forceful intellect and ambition could possibly end up swallowing mine.”

57. “But Barack arrived in my life a wholly formed person. From our very first conversation, he’d shown me that he wasn’t self-conscious about expressing fear or weakness and that he valued being truthful.”

58. “Here’s a memory, which like most memories is imperfect and subjective—collected long ago like a beach pebble and slipped into the pocket of my mind.”

59. “My most important title is still ‘mom-in-chief.’ My daughters are still the heart of my heart and the center of my world.”

60. “It hurts to live after someone has died. It just does.”

61. “Just as I never wondered what it was like for my to be a full-time, at-home mother, I never wondered then what it meant to be married.”

62. “It felt perverse—how the world just carried on. How everyone was still here, except for my Suzanne?”

63. “For me, marriage was more like a full-on merger, a reconfiguring of two lives into one, with the well-being of a family taking precedence over any one agenda or goal.”

64. “What I notice about men, all men, is that their order is me, my family. God is in there somewhere, but me is first.”

65. “We owe it to them to stay strong and keep working to create a more fair and humane world. For them, we need to remain both tough and hopeful—to acknowledge that there’s more growing to be done.”

66. “Trump, with his loud and reckless innuendos, was putting my family’s safety at risk. And for this, I’d never forgive him.”

67. “Marriage, he told me early on, struck him as an unnecessary and overhyped convention.”

68. “I like the idea of being rigorous about friendship.”

69. “I’d been lucky to have parents, teachers, and mentors who’d fed me with a consistent, simple message—you matter. As an adult, I wanted to pass those words to a new generation.”

70. “We choose love. Our love for our children. Our commitment to leaving them a better world.”

71. “Now that I’m an adult, I realize that kids know, at a very young age, when they’re being devalued, when adults aren’t invested enough to help them learn.”

72. “They aren’t bad kids. They’re just trying to survive bad circumstances.”

73. “Kids wake up each day believing in the goodness of things, in the of what might be. They’re uncynical, believers at their core.”

74. “As a kid, you learn to measure long before you understand the size or value of anything. Eventually, if you’re lucky, you learn that you’ve been measuring all wrong.”

75. “Her goal was to push us out into the world. ‘I’m not raising babies,’ she’d tell us. ‘I’m raising adults.’”

76. “Kids will invest more when they feel they’re being invested in.”

77. “Our afternoons together taught me that there was no formula for . No single approach could be deemed right or wrong. This was useful to see. Regardless of who was living which way and why, every small child in that playroom was cherished and growing just fine.”

78. “I let his voice be my comfort. It bore no trace of pain or self-pity, carrying only good humor and softness and just the tiniest hint of jazz. I lived on it as if it were oxygen. It was sustaining, and it was always enough.”

79. “My early successes in life were, I knew, a product of the consistent love and high expectations with which I was surrounded as a child, both at home and at school.”

80. “My friends made me whole, as they always have and always will.”

81. “We were planting seeds of change—the fruit of which we might never see. We had to be patient.”

82. “You may not always have a comfortable life and you will not always be able to solve all of the world’s problems at once, but don’t ever underestimate the importance you can have because history has shown us that courage can be contagious and hope can take on a life of its own.”

83. “Hearing them, I realized that they weren’t at all smarter than the rest of us. They were simply emboldened, floating on an ancient tide of superiority, buoyed by the fact that history had never told them anything different.”

84. “I’ve been lucky enough now in my life to meet all sorts of extraordinary and accomplished people—world leaders, inventors, musicians, astronauts, athletes, professors, entrepreneurs, artists and writers, pioneering doctors and researchers.”

85. “The noise doesn’t go away, but the most successful people I know have figured out how to live with it, to lean on the people who believe in them, and to push onward with their goals.”

86. “We all play a role in this democracy. We need to remember the power of every vote.”

87. “I continue, too, to keep myself connected to a force that’s larger and more potent than any one election, or leader, or news story—and that’s optimism. For me, this is a form of faith, an antidote to fear.”

88. “Changing the big picture takes time and the best things to do is focus on the things that we can make in our lives if we’re doing all that. That becomes the collage of real change.”

89. “The more popular you became, the more haters you acquired.”

90. “Everything was not lost. This was the message we needed to carry forward. It’s what I truly believed. It wasn’t ideal, but it was our reality—the world as it is. We needed now to be resolute, to keep our feet pointed in the direction of progress.”

91. “Everyone seemed to fit in, except for me. I look back on the discomfort of that moment now and recognize the more universal challenge of squaring who you are with where you come from and where you want to go.”

92. “Coexisting with Barack’s strong sense of purpose—sleeping in the same bed with it, sitting at the breakfast table with it—was something to which I had to adjust, not because he flaunted it, exactly, but because it was so alive.”

93. “In the presence of his certainty, his notion that he could make some sort of difference in the world, I couldn’t help but feel a little bit lost by comparison. His sense of purpose seemed like an unwitting challenge to my own.”

94. “As the first African-American family in the White House, we were being viewed as representatives of our race. Any error or lapse in judgment, we knew, would be magnified—read as something more than it was.”

95. “Barack was just different. He was dialed into the day-to-day demands of his life, but at the same time, especially at night, his thoughts seemed to roam a much wider plane.”

96. “The truth is, in order to get things like universal health care and a revamped education system, then someone is going to have to give up a piece of their pie so that someone else can have more.”

97. “It felt like that’s exactly what she was planting—a suggestion of failure long before I’d even tried to succeed.”

98. “It’s hard to put into words what sometimes you pick up in the ether, the quiet, cruel nuances of not belonging—the subtle cues that tell you to not risk anything, to find your people and just stay put.”

99. “At the root of this dilemma is the way we view mental health in this country. Whether an illness affects your heart, your leg or your brain, it’s still an illness, and there should be no distraction.”

100. “For the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country. And not just because Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change. And I have been desperate to see our country moving in that direction.”

101. “When you’re First Lady, America shows itself to you in its extremes.”

102. “If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s the power of using your voice. I tried my best to speak the truth and shed light on the stories of people who are often brushed aside.”

103. “His money went largely toward books, which to him were like sacred objects, providing ballast for his mind.”

104. “There are truths we face and truths we ignore.”

105. “When they go low, we go high.”

106. “The arts are not just a nice thing to have or to do if there is free time or if one can afford it.”

107. “Paintings and poetry, music and fashion, design and dialogue—they all define who we are as a people and provide an account of our history for the next generation.”

108. “You may live in the world as it is, but you can still work to create the world as it should be.”

109. “I began to understand that his version of hope reached far beyond mine. It was one thing to get yourself out of a stuck place, I realized. It was another thing entirely to try and get the place itself unstuck.”

110. “Life was teaching me that progress and change happen slowly. Not in two years, four years, or even a lifetime.”

111. “I wasn’t going to let one person’s opinion dislodge everything I thought I knew about myself. Instead, I switched my method without changing my goal.”

112. “Empower yourselves with a good education, then get out there and use that education to build a country worthy of your boundless promise.”

113. “You’ve got to be twice as good to get half as far.”

114. “We simply do not allow space in our hearts, minds, or souls for darkness. Instead, we choose faith. Faith in ourselves and the power of hard work.”

115. “We choose excellence. We choose to tune out all the noise and strive for excellence in everything we do. No cutting corners, no taking shortcuts, no whining.”

116. “We give 120% every single time, because excellence is the most powerful answer you can give to the doubters and the haters. It’s also the most powerful thing you can do for yourself.”

117. “All this inborn confidence was admirable, of course, but honestly, try living with it.”

118. “Inspiration on its own was shallow; you had to back it up with hard work.”

119. “In my blinding drive to excel, in my need to do things perfectly, I’d missed the signs and taken the wrong road.”

120. “Fulfillment, I’m sure, struck her as a rich person’s conceit.”

121. “It was painful, but time pushed us all forward.”

122. “You find ways to adapt. If you’re in it forever, there’s really no choice.”

123. “There’s no straight line between effort and reward.”

124. “We understood, in other words, how ridiculously fortunate we were, and we both felt an obligation not to be complacent.”

125. “This was not me and never would be. I could be supportive, but I couldn’t be a robot.”

126. “They weren’t striving for perfection, but managed somehow to be always excellent.”

127. “Bullies were scared people hiding inside scary people.”

128. “Dominance, even the threat of it, is a form of dehumanization. It’s the ugliest kind of power.”

129. “The easiest way to disregard a woman’s voice is to package her as a scold.”

130. “Minority and underprivileged students rise to the challenge all the time—but it takes energy.”

131. “It takes energy to be the only black person in a lecture hall or one of a few nonwhite people trying out for a play or joining an intramural team. It requires , an extra level of confidence, to speak in those settings and own your presence in the room.”

132. “I knew from my own life experience that when someone shows genuine interest in your learning and development, even if only for ten minutes in a busy day, it matters. It matters especially for women, for minorities, for anyone society is quick to overlook.”

133. “The burden of assimilation is put largely on the shoulders of minority students.”

134. “You don’t really know how attached you are until you move away, until you’ve experienced what it means to be dislodged—a cork floating on the ocean of another place.”

135. “It’s easier to hold onto your own stereotypes and misconceptions. It makes you feel justified in your own ignorance. That’s America. So the challenge for us is, are we ready for change?”

136. “Women, in particular, need to keep an eye on their physical and mental health because if we’re scurrying to and from appointments and errands, we don’t have a lot of time to take care of ourselves. We need to do a better job of putting ourselves higher on our own to-do list.”

137. “I’ve smiled for photos with people who call my husband horrible names on national television, but still want a framed keepsake for their mantle.”

138. “America is not a simple place. Its contradictions set me spinning.”

139. “The realities are that, you know, as a black man, you know, Barack can get shot going to the gas station, you know.”

140. “I just wanted to achieve, or maybe I didn’t want to be dismissed as incapable of achievement.”

141. “When voters got to see me as a person, they understood that the caricatures were untrue.”

142. “It’s a curious thing to realize the in-betweenness one feels being African American in Africa. It gave me a hard-to-explain feeling of sadness, a sense of being unrooted in both lands.”

143. “Whatever deficits I might have arrived with, coming from an inner-city high school, it seemed that I could make up for them by putting in extra time, asking for help when I needed it, and learning to pace myself and not procrastinate.”

144. “I wanted Americans to understand that words matter—that the hateful language they heard coming from their TVs did not reflect the true spirit of our country and that we could vote against it.”

145. “He was like a wind that threatened to unsettle everything.”

146. “Even white people were recognizing him now.”

147. “I’ve wanted to ask my detractors which part of that phrase matters to them the most—is it ‘angry’ or ‘black’ or ‘woman’?”

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