Michelle Obama’s time as First Lady of the United States may be coming to a close, but she isn’t finished yet.
At the inaugural United State of Women Summit in Washington, D.C., the First Lady convened more than 5,000 women from across the country to talk about women’s progress and the “work left to do” on issues like the wage gap, domestic violence and media representation.
Featured guests included Shonda Rhimes, Kerry Washington, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, and even 11-year-old social lemonade entrepreneur Mikaila Ulmer, who introduced President Barack Obama during the afternoon session.
But the moment everyone was waiting for was when the First Lady took the stage with media mogul Oprah Winfrey for an intimate conversation about womanhood, personal ambition and her legacy after the White House.
“Our first job in life as women is to get to know ourselves,” said the First Lady. “And I think a lot of times we don’t do that. We spend our time pleasing, satisfying, looking out in to the world to define who we are.”
The First Lady recounted the early days of raising her children and working full-time while her husband was in the Senate. Her schedule was so demanding, she brought daughter Sasha, then only a baby, to a job interview. She explained up front to the interviewer that she wanted a flexible schedule and full-time pay.
“Did you ever get that job?” asked Winfrey.
“I did,” said the First Lady, referring to her role as the Vice President of Community Outreach at University of Chicago Hospital. “I got that job because I didn’t compromise.”
The First Lady says the sense of valuing her time and knowing her worth was cultivated by her parents and loved ones but also life experience.
“As women and young girls, we have to invest that time in understanding who we are and liking who we are,” said the First lady.
Oprah responded by saying it reminded her of a regular saying by Maya Angelou, “You alone are enough.”
“How do we get there? What is that process?” asked Winfrey.
“You’ve got to surround yourself with people who uplift you and hold you up,” the First Lady responded.
“There is somebody out there who loves you and is waiting to love you. And you just have to find them and that means you have to make room for them.”
The two went on to talk about how the First Lady has kept her cool in a social media-driven world often fueled by negativity.
“How do you handle the haters?” inquired Winfrey.
“There are times I turn off the world. There are some times you just have to give yourself space to be quiet, which means you’ve got to set those phones down. You can’t be reading all of that stuff. It’s like just letting somebody walk up and slap you. You would never do that.”
Mrs. Obama explained that her portfolio of work as First Lady, which included advocating for military families and healthy eating in schools, was not only authentic and true to her passions but also what kept her above the fray.
“People won’t remember what other people say about you, but they will remember what you do,” said the First Lady.
“The best revenge is success and good work. You don’t have to say anything to the haters. You just wake up every morning and be the best you you can be.”
Check out the full conversation between the First Lady and Oprah below and revisit the summit’s highlights with the hashtag #StateOfWomen.