The 1 Thing Michelle Obama Wants Us to Have During Tough Times Is a Strong Sense of Hope

Michelle Obama knows that America is in the midst of turmoil. She knows that people are losing hope in the improvement of the country, and she knows that there's quite a bit of change that needs to take place to make the world a better place.

But you know what else Michelle knows? She knows that there's hope. And she knows that the people have the power. This she made clear in recent features in the December 2018 issues of Elle and O, The Oprah Magazine. Speaking to Oprah Winfrey and promoting her new book, Becoming, Michelle opened up about some of the most impactful aspects of her life, including her marriage and family. She also discussed the early stages of her career, what life was like in the White House, how the Obama family has adjusted to living in a regular home, and holding onto a sense of optimism in today's political and social climate. Read on to see some of her standout quotes from the candid interview.

  • On the title of her new book, Becoming: "But the truth is, for me, each decade has offered something amazing that I would never have imagined. And if I had stopped looking, I would have missed out on so much. So I'm still becoming, and this is the story of my journey. Hopefully, it will spark conversations, especially among young people, about their journeys."
  • On the early development of her career: "I had a job that paid more than my parents ever made in their lives. I was rolling with bourgeois class. My friends owned condos, I had a Saab. I don't know what's cool these days, but a Saab, back in the day — oh yeah. I had a Saab, and the next step was, okay, you get married, you have a lovely home, and on and on and on. Yes, the bigger problems of the world were important. But the more important thing was where you were going in your career."

  • On the pressures of being the first Black family in office: "We felt the pressure from the minute we started to run. First of all, we had to convince our base that a Black man could win. It wasn't even winning over Iowa. We first had to win over Black people. Because Black people like my grandparents — they never believed this could happen. They wanted it. They wanted it for us. But their lives had told them, 'No. Never.' Hillary was the safer bet for them, because she was known. Opening hearts up to the hope that America would put down its racism for a Black man — I think that hurt too much. It wasn't until Barack won Iowa that people thought, Okay. Maybe so."
  • On how she helped Barack manage the stress of being president: "Trying to be the calm in his swerve. Doing what I was taught: You know, when the leaves are blowing and the wind is rough, being a steady trunk in his life. Family dinners. That was one of the things I brought into the White House — that strict code of You gotta catch up with us, dude. This is when we're having dinner. Yes, you're president, but you can bring your butt from the Oval Office and sit down and talk to your children."

  • On dealing with targeted acts of violence: "We had a bullet shot at the Yellow Oval Room during our tenure in the White House. A lunatic came and shot from Constitution Avenue. The bullet hit the upper-left corner of a window. I see it to this day: the window of the Truman Balcony, where my family would sit. That was really the only place we could get outdoor space. Fortunately, nobody was out there at the time. The shooter was caught. But it took months to replace that glass, because it's bombproof glass. I had to look at that bullet hole, as a reminder of what we were living with every day."
  • On making the White House feel more relaxed: "We were clear that what we were going to do was going to have impact and was going to be positive. The West Wing had enough going on; we wanted to be the happy side of the house. And we were. You'd have national security advisers coming over to brief me about something. They'd fall into my office — which was beautifully decorated, lots of flowers, and apples, and we were always laughing — and they'd sit down for a briefing and wouldn't want to leave. 'We're done, gentlemen.' 'We don't wanna go back!'"

  • On transitioning from the White House to a regular home: "So here I am in my new home, just me and Bo and Sunny, and I do a simple thing. I go downstairs and open the cabinet in my own kitchen — which you don't do in the White House because there's always somebody there going, 'Let me get that. What do you want? What do you need?' — and I made myself toast. Cheese toast. And then I took my toast and I walked out into my backyard. I sat on the stoop, and there were dogs barking in the distance, and I realized Bo and Sunny had really never heard neighbor dogs. They're like, What's that? And I'm like, 'Yep, we're in the real world now, fellas.'"
  • On maintaining hopeful during dark times: "We have to feel that optimism. For the kids. We're setting the table for them, and we can't hand them crap. We have to hand them hope. Progress isn't made through fear. We're experiencing that right now. Fear is the coward's way of leadership. But kids are born into this world with a sense of hope and optimism. No matter where they're from. Or how tough their stories are. They think they can be anything because we tell them that. So we have a responsibility to be optimistic. And to operate in the world in that way."