In a 2018 panel with Penguins Books UK, Obama spoke about how young people are taught to figure out what they want to be when they grow up, and what title is attached to it, whether it be a lawyer, a teacher or a teacher Researcher acts. They “do the work to get those titles” and have jobs and careers.

“What I learned was that none of this has to do with who I am,” she remarked, “not what I want to be.”

Instead, Obama encouraged young people to ask themselves questions, including what they care about, how they want to invest their time, what makes them happy and what makes them sad.

“We don’t teach that in school,” she continued, “but I’ve learned to find that for myself and to turn that passion into my career.”

Obama said her life then “opened up” in ways she never predicted. “Because I asked myself this simple question: not what did I want to be, but who did I want to be?” She added. “And how was I going to appear in the world? And when you all get the go-ahead, you start to wonder this question as you, you know, pursue your career. When you start to think about what work will you enjoy? Because if you find that, you’ll do well and everything else will go together. And it did for me. “