Sometimes when I'm writing my articles, I guess I forget that people read them. In all honesty, I just find something that gets my attention and I write about it, with the mindset that maybe some will pass over it and a small few might actually take note of it.
When I saw Michelle Obama's speech at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, I, like so many out others, was compelled. I had to write about it. Honestly, there's just something about the First Lady that makes you want to listen to her every word, and to me, she has something that inspires me to act.
So, when I wrote my article about her, I didn't really think twice about it. It was just what I saw; what I believed. I was recognizing her for her work and influence on me and teenage girls of my generation. When I sent it in, I didn't think much about it. I mean, there are hundreds of articles written every day about her -- she is, after all, the First Lady of the United States.
But then I got an email. Her staff wanted me to come see her at one of her rallies in Virginia. Since they were willing to give me tickets, I didn't hesitate to accept the offer.
I was sitting in VIP seats in the first row at her Fredericksburg rally. What more could I ask for? As I looked around the Mary Washington University gym, I was amazed to me to see so many people. There were veterans, college students, people of different races, teenagers, families, women, men, workers and volunteers all in one room to catch a glimpse of one woman.
With the buttons, posters and chants, I became just another member of the Michelle Obama fan entourage, and as she came out, I knew exactly why. The crowd erupted. I found myself jumping up and screaming as loud as I could, hoping she would look in my direction. It seems crazy, I know, but it's an almost surreal experience.
Her speech -- almost reminiscent of her DNC speech -- preached for education, equal rights, voter turnout, women's rights, and most importantly, family. Coming from a family of two VERY hard-working parents, seeing them smile and nod as she preached about the importance of our future, and work ethic, and struggle, I couldn't help but know she connected with them and everyone. For those 30 minutes, Michelle Obama, in a sense, was a part of us. After all, she went through the struggle, just like us.
And in that moment, my life was virtually complete. It may sound cheesy, but I got to see my role model, and I was done -- I didn't need anything else. I couldn't wait to tell my friends what I got to do.
Or so I thought.
Halfway through her speech, someone tapped me on my shoulder and asked, "Are you Omnia?" I couldn't help but gape a little and nod. "Come with me," she said. "The First Lady wants to meet you."
Wait, what? No. I thought. I'm fine, I swear. That's all I wanted. I saw her. I said I was done!
I was walked in backstage, and they told me to wait for her to come in after shaking hands with the crowd. Apparently, they had been looking for me.
Why, you may ask? Michelle Obama read MY article.
I sat there awkwardly glancing at everyone, pacing a little but trying to look composed, and just like that, she just walked right in. The person I saw on the TV screen and wrote about was right there in front of me. She took a few pictures with people and then looked at me.
I tried to keep it professional and go in for a handshake but she went straight for hug. I must have looked a little lost, because my eyes were as wide as they could be and my mouth somehow wouldn't close. It was the pure definition of shock.
She told me about my article, and how she appreciated it. She asked about school and what colleges I wanted to go to (Yes, I was having a conversation with the First Lady!). She introduced me to her Chiefs-of-Staff, pointing at all of these powerful women who worked just as hard, if not harder, than we ever know or realize.
And then she said something that left me speechless. This whole time I've been writing about the inspiration and influential power Michelle Obama has on me -- and should have on every teenager. But she looked me right in the eye and said, "You inspire me."
And I just stood there, staring. That couldn't be possible. She's one of the most powerful women in the world, the first lady of one of the world's most powerful countries.
And then I realized it wasn't just me she was referring to. She was talking about teenagers -- my generation. This amazing and invincible woman was motivated by the people who believe in her, as well as teens and kids like me who look up to her for a sense of hope. Because for us, she's the symbol of our educational success stories and our dreams, and to her we're the ones who make sure she follows through.
I realized that all of us in the crowd -- like the Air Force veteran behind me, and the UMW Young Democrats club in front of me, and my parents right next to me -- rely on Michelle Obama just as much as she relies on us.
So thank you, Mrs. Obama. Thank you for reading my article and taking the time to meet me. Most importantly, thank you for inspiring us just as much as we try to inspire you.