When the first episode of The Michelle Obama Podcast debuted last week we shut off from the world and listened to every single piece of advice she had to give. Heralding the podcast's arrival, the Obamas casually posted a shot of them recording the inaugural episode in their cozy den. Chilling casually in high waisted shorts and a white button-down, Michelle is as at ease in her posture as she is with her wisdom.
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Can’t wait for you to hear the first episode of The #MichelleObamaPodcast! It’s a long, thoughtful talk with @BarackObama—we had some fun with this one. That conversation goes live tomorrow, but you can follow us right now by clicking the link in my bio to hear a preview.
In the first episode she explained how the series will be an introspective of the relationships that shaped her and welcomed her first guest, the 44th President of the United States and husband Barack Obama (who she nonchalantly introduces as “Just in case you don’t recognize that voice, that is my husband, Barack Obama”) to the show. The ease of their affection for one another shines through, with the duo seamlessly switching from silly to sensible topics.
Amidst the utter chaos of 2020 the podcast, which focuses on the importance of community, is exactly what we need. Bazaar shares a few highlights from their animated conversation here.
“Your values start with those closest to you.”
Barack’s unconventional upbringing meant that his friends, who hailed from similar socioeconomic backgrounds, became his community. “I moved around as a kid and didn’t have a big extended family, so my friendships became really important. That was my crew; that was my family.”
Michelle reinforces that the decisions her family was forced to make, such as living with extended family to cut rent costs which allowed her mother to stay home. She goes on to explain that growing up in a poor area of Chicago, many single mums had to work to support their families. The neighbourhoods’stay-at-home mums' consciously joined the PTA, so they could be aware of what all the children were doing and this left the working mothers with a sense of peace.
“Happiness in life comes from helping others succeed.”
Michelle reminisces about her community-oriented upbringing which shaped her moral values.
“My personal obligation as Michelle Obama is that it isn’t enough that I succeed on my own. I have to care about what happens to the kid in the desk next to me at school because he’s just as smart,” she said within the inaugural episode.
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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
Barack echoes the sentiment by drawing on his college experiences, where he discovered that chasing only success would leave him alone and unhappy. He reiterated that whilst Harvard provided him with the educational step-up to do what he wanted, it was his community drives that taught him that happiness comes from doing good for others and saved him from loneliness and isolation.
“Culturally, we've become more focused on stuff and less focused on relationships and family.”
The couple both agreed that in today’s world the pressure on young people to 'have it all' is intense. With nuclear families being the norm, there is a lot of pressure on individuals to provide the financial and emotional security that in the past would be shared within the community. Throughout the episode both Obamas reflect on growing up in larger family, where financial burdens were shared.
As Barack eloquently puts it “...when everybody was looking out for everybody the whole was greater than the sum of its parts.”
Amid a pandemic and extreme isolation for most, this reminder of community spirit and how much joy we derive from our family and friends couldn’t have come at a better time.
Lead image courtesy of instagram/michelleobama