Whenever I start to wonder why life seems so hard, I also start thinking that maybe it’s just me, maybe life is hard just for me.
During those seasons, I like to pick up memoirs, or autobiographies, and when I do, I realize that life is hard for just about everyone – even those that seem to have everything.
I want to share a few memoirs I picked up a few months ago and how they helped me navigate some particularly challenging decisions I needed to make.
Becoming by Michelle Obama had so many insights for me. It was interesting to learn from a strong woman, who sometimes had to struggle about the next steps to take in her career and life. It helped that she was Black, and she had also once been a lawyer. I enjoyed how she helped to stabilize her husband and family. But perhaps her career-transitions, helped me to finally be okay with letting go of my legal career and moving on to more interesting pursuits.
Lead from Outside by Stacey Abrams got me thinking so much about our political responsibilities, and how so many of us just don’t believe we can make a difference. I remember friends telling me how Black people would come to their polling stations exhausted, after work and would be turned back because they didn’t have a specific document, when there were other ways for them to confirm their identities. The political system can be easily manipulated when people like us are constantly being disenfranchised. One thing that stood out to me was her passion – I could empathize with desiring something so badly, and working so hard towards it, and not getting it – how does one deal with that disappointment? How does one go on?
Audition by Barbara Walters was so surprising for me because I always assumed that she came from a place of privilege. I never even wondered about the challenges she had to go through or how she had to fight to prove her worth in every phase of her career. What struck out was that she worked through so much fear – fear that she wasn’t good enough, fear that she could be let go at any moment, fear upon fear upon fear… but she continued. She supported her family, she battled through the guild of her success while her parents struggled financially and her sister struggled socially… yet she persevered. It reminded me that we really don’t know about other people’s stories, we don’t know what they are battling through. And it taught me that I can still choose to be my best despite what is going on around me – because afterall, all of life is an Audition.
Now on to you. What memoirs have been meaningful for you?
Another memoir I read many years ago was Man’s search for meaning, I am forever grateful for that book.