Michelle Obama on Importance of Sharing Her Story in Its ‘Messy Glory’

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“When we are honest about who we are, when we share our story with others, when we encourage more people to do the same we are at our best,” the former first lady says in a video accompanying new editions of her memoir

Michelle Obama knows firsthand that while being vulnerable may be uncomfortable at the time, it can help others feel less alone.

The former first lady — whose candid revelations about her career and marriage to former President Barack Obama were first published in her bestselling memoir, Becoming — recently opened up about the importance of authenticity.  

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“It’s funny that right before Becoming was first published, I started feeling some real serious doubts and anxiety about what I had produced because I had been writing on my own,” Mrs. Obama, 57, said in a new video from publisher Penguin Random House, released along with paperback and young-reader editions of Becoming

“So when the book came out, it was the first time I was thinking, ‘People are actually gonna read this,’ ” she continued in the video. “I got a little anxious. I wondered if I’d maybe been too raw, if I’d made myself too vulnerable. I wondered if anybody would care about the stories that I was sharing.”

It was only when Mrs. Obama embarked on hersellout book tour that she realized how much her honesty had struck a chord with her readers. 

RELATED: Michelle Obama Talks Her COVID Year: Unexpected Blessings, Quarantine Hobbies & Depression and What’s Next

Michelle Obama

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Credit:
Random House

“I realized that all of the parts of my story that gave me the most discomfort were actually the things that people connected with the most,” she said in the video. “Sharing my story and all of this messy glory opened me up to some of the best conversations I’ve ever had, to some of the deepest conversations I’ve ever felt.”

“It really drove home this idea that when we are honest about who we are, when we share our story with others, when we encourage more people to do the same we are at our best,” she added. “That’s how we start to build community and make this world just a little less lonely, and I really believe that is true and I experienced that through the writing and sharing of my story.”

Earlier this month, Mrs. Obama celebrated the release of the young readers’ edition of her hit memoir, which has sold over 15 million copies worldwide since its November 2018 release.

“It is okay not to know who you are or exactly what you want to be or do right now,” the former first lady said in a video dedicated to her young readers. 

“It’s not like you wake up one day and you are who you were intended to be and that is that. It is a process,” she continued. “You never stop becoming.”

Speaking with PEOPLE for this week’s cover story, the former first lady said that one day — perhaps not too far from now — she and her husband will retire to chase summer, as she puts it.

“Barack and I never want to experience winter again,” she said. “We’re building the foundation for somebody else to continue the work so we can retire and be with each other.”

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