When Michelle Obama told her mother she hated being a lawyer, her mom told her to 'make the money, worry about being happy later'

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When Michelle Obama told her mother she hated being a lawyer, her mom told her to 'make the money, worry about being happy later'

michelle obama

Associated Press/Andrew Harnik

Michelle Obama said she pushed herself onto a certain career path.

  • Former First Lady Michelle Obama shared an anecdote about telling her mother that she hated being a lawyer in her early career in an interview with Oprah Winfrey published in Town & Country.
  • Obama's mother gave her a key piece of perspective, telling her to "make the money, worry about being happy later."
  • Obama's memoir "Becoming" is set to be released on November 13.

Former First Lady Michelle Obama's mother gave her a key piece of perspective at an important turning point in her career.

Town & Country published an interview between Oprah Winfrey and Obama, whose memoir "Becoming" is set to be released on November 13.

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The women discussed the former First Lady's journey from her working-class upbringing on the South Side of Chicago to becoming a lawyer. Obama described her sense of pushing herself on a particular life path:

"In the book, I take you on the journey of who that little striving star-getter became, which is what a lot of hard-driving kids become: a box checker. Get good grades: check. Apply to the best schools, get into Princeton: check. Get there, what's your major? Uh, something that's going to get me good grades so I can get into law school, I guess? Check. Get through law school: check."

Obama did not enjoy her time in a law firm. Winfrey quoted Obama from her memoir as saying that she "hated being a lawyer." She described her feelings of doubt about her career path, saying, "I wasn't a swerver. I wasn't somebody that was going to take risks. I narrowed myself to being this thing I thought I should be."

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Read more: Michelle Obama says 'What do you want to be when you grow up?' is the worst question you can ask a kid

Obama said she remembers the moment she confided in her mother about disliking her job, in which she spent much of her time "doing document production."

"So I shared with her in the car: I'm just not happy I don't feel my passion," Obama said. "And my mother - my uninvolved, live-and-let-live mother - said, 'Make the money, worry about being happy later.' I was like [gulps], Oh. Okay. Because how indulgent that must have felt to my mother..."

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She continued: "When she said that, I thought, Wow - what - where did I come from, with all my luxury and wanting my passion? The luxury to even be able to decide - when she didn't get to go back to work and start finding herself until after she got us into high school. So, yes. It was hard."

Eventually, she met Barack Obama, who she says was "the opposite of a box checker. He was swerving all over the place."

The interview and Obama's memoir include several other intimate and personal details of Obama's path from Chicago to the White House, including her early relationship with her husband, former President Barack Obama, and the challenges she faced in conceiving her children.

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Read the full interview on Town & Country »

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