Former First Lady Michelle Obama launched her Reach Higher organization with a mission to help first-generation and low-income students continue their educations. As part of the initiative, she took part in the 5th annual “Beat the Odds” Summit, which took place at Howard University on Tuesday.
Obama, who is a first-generation college student herself, spoke to dozens of students heading to college in the fall. She offered up sage advice on a variety of topics, including mental health, self-care, financial aid, and being on your own for the first time.
“No matter how much you may front [or fake it], there’s a part of you that’s wondering whether this was a mistake and whether I belong … because those were the messages I had going on in my head, and they still come up through life. It’s like, Am I really good enough? Because those demons are deep in us. And because we live in a country that sometimes wants you to feel that way. They want you to feel like you don’t belong,” Obama told the group according to People, adding, “We’re all faking it.”
She also talked about how your diet can affect your wellbeing. “In order to have good mental health, it’s not just getting counseling or having support, it’s figuring out how to live a balanced life because that’s tied to your mental health. So, whether you’re getting exercise really does matter. That affects your endorphins. That matters,” she said, via Good Morning America.
When it comes to financial aid, she emphasizes focusing on yourself despite pressures at home, and notes that you should be aware of not over-spending on other things. She warned, “It’s not used to help everybody. And it’s not used to pay for a stereo system and those bad shoes and those nice nails. In college you are broke. You don’t have extra money. It might feel like extra money, but it’s not. Because if you spend it on something other than your books or your tuition or your food and you run out, it’s not going to be like, ‘Oh, here’s a little bit more!’ You are done. Your loan is gone.”