Reflecting on Michelle Obama’s Words to Young Women: Part 2

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This is part two of a reflection on "A Moderated Conversation with Former First Lady Michelle Obama" from our residents, Ellen Huggins and Lauren Lewis. Check out Lauren's reflection here

At a sold out event in Indianapolis that drew over 12,000 people and raised more than one million dollars, the Women’s Fund of Central Indiana rallied a crowd around the idea that women and girls are worth investing in. Who better to speak on this idea to the young girls in the room than former First Lady Michelle Obama?

Photo provided by Ellen Huggins

As a woman about to graduate from college and venture out to the scary “real world,” Michelle Obama said everything I needed to hear. I often doubt myself. I often tell myself it’s not worth a shot. I often miss the opportunity to speak up.

Consciously or not, I grew up believing I couldn’t push myself past failure as a young girl.

But I have a privilege that not everyone has, being a white woman with a family who was able to help me get through college. I have supporters. I have the financial tools. I can’t speak to what it’s like to be in a different situation, and I should never attempt to. What I can do is listen, understand, validate, and support.

This topic is something that stuck with me throughout the conversation. The moderator, Alecia DeCoudreaux, asked Michelle what she would say to those who do not have the resources to get ahead, whether they’re in poverty, they’re in a bad school, etc. Michelle emphasized that saying, “You’ll get through this!” isn’t nearly enough. As a society, we have to take action in order to change circumstances and make resources more widespread. We have to be vocal in inspiring change and put pressure on those who can change policy.

In my own personal journey of itching to make a difference in my community and striving to be politically active, I have often found myself unsatisfied when trying to take on a larger issue and coming to terms with the fact that some people – politicians and other leaders – can sometimes be ingenuine to the causes they work for. As I navigate my own insights and career goals, Michelle said it best when she said, “You have to try on some shoes to see what you’re comfortable in.” I left Bankers Life Arena feeling inspired to unapologetically use my voice and my perspective in a variety of ways. Watching the way she addressed elementary school and high school aged women moved me to venture outside of my own scope. And most of all, her words empowered me to push past self-doubt and ignore low expectations from others.

Read Lauren Lewis' reflection here