Ariel Bissett talks to Michelle Obama about “swerving” and changing your path, growing up, and the difficulties that come along with doing so.
As part of a YouTube Originals short series titled “BookTube”, Michelle Obama sat down with BookTuber Ariel Bissett and discussed the key themes of swerving and changing your path in her new book, Becoming.
Ariel kicks off the conversation talking about how Michelle’s discussion of this topic resonated with her personally. “When I was in ninth grade, I was so adamant about having perfect attendance,” she explained. “I got a cold, and I said, ‘It’s fine, it’s fine’, I kept going to school and I gave myself pneumonia.” Responding to this Michelle comments on how Ariel thought “perfect attendance would be the ticket to life.”
Changing the topic to looking at the difficulties in swerving off the path you’re set on, Michelle highlights that, “some of it is probably socioeconomic.” She carries on, explaining that, “when you’re a kid who’s going to college, you don’t feel like you have the room to stumble.” Going into how this personally affected her, Ariel comments on how she was dead set on applying to a course that people would think of as intelligent, rather than something she enjoyed. “However,” she adds, “I will always remember having a conversation with my dad where I said ‘I really want to do English Literature, and he was like ‘Do it!’ He gave me the help to swerve.”
Finally, Ariel brings the discussion to a close by asking Michelle for a tip for the viewers, on how to help yourself “swerve”. “I think knowledge helps, understanding what you’re swerving from and what you’re swerving to,” Michelle starts. “Finding people who support your swerve, like you pointed out with your dad, for me, Barack was that person who said, ‘You know what? I’ve got your back.’ Finding the community of support in your swerve, as there will be plenty of people who tell you, ‘What’re you doing?’, but you’ve got to find a community of support through that process.”