First Lady Michelle Obama smiled warmly as the girls from Elizabeth Garrett Anderson school, in north London, asked questions about her insecurities, how she knew her husband was “The One”, and how she’s making the world a better place. It has been a busy week of dinners and meetings but, Mrs. Obama still had plenty of energy for the trip to Oxford University, where the teenagers had spent the day trying the place on for size.
She told the young ladies:
“I felt a strong sense of connection with all of you. In your stories, I saw so much of my own story,” the first lady told the pupils earnestly, having kept in touch with the school since their first meeting in 2009.
“I knew that the next time I came to the UK, I wanted to visit with all of you again in a place like this: a renowned university that has trained so many of the world’s brightest minds and greatest leaders.
“All of us believe that you belong here – that this is a place for you as well. We passionately believe that you have the talent, the drive, the experience to succeed here in Oxford and in universities just like it across the country and across the world.”
“There were times when I had doubts. I have doubts today. Doubts don’t go away, you just learn how to deal with them. You start knowing yourself and you become more confident.”
“You don’t let the failures and stumbles define you. Everybody falls every now and then. Some people fall a lot. I’m now 47 years old, so whatever mistakes I made when I was 13, who cares? Think about life as a long trajectory.”
“In the end it’s hard work, and I like to work hard. I like to do good things. You practice that out. Believe it or not, it prepared me to be the first lady of the United States.”
When posed with the question about how she knew President Barack Obama was the one she laughed and said she could not ask for a better partner.
“Now I’m sharing secrets here,” before adding: “When I met him, I knew he was a special person. It had nothing to do with his education, his potential or his income. It was none of that. It was the love he felt for his mother and the positive relationships he had with women.”
“I always thought he would be useful, but I had no idea he would be president until the night he was on stage. I was like, ‘Wow – so you won’,” she joked, pulling an impressed face.
But, in an instant, her expression becomes serious, and she tells the girls: “Reach for partners that make you better. Do not bring people in your life who will weigh you down. Good relationships feel good; they feel right. This does not just apply to the person you marry, but the friends you choose and the people you surround yourself with.”