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Michelle Obama: ‘Treat fear as a challenge’

Former first lady Michelle Obama speaks with 'Late Show' host Stephen Colbert
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Michelle Obama says there’s power in being fearful.

“Treat fear as a challenge,” Obama said in a Monday night interview that aired as part of a BET special, “Becoming: Michelle Obama in Conversation.”

“The more you practice pushing beyond that point of comfort, the easier it gets,” the former first lady said.

Speaking to “Black-ish” star Yara Shahidi and a group of college students from around the country, Obama said, “That first day you got on campus, it took you a minute, right? Maybe it took you a couple of months, maybe it took you an entire semester — but you gradually settled in, and that fear dissipated or it turned into something else.”

“But that fear stops many of us, and we never try it.”

Obama, who launched her Reach Higher education initiative in 2014, told the audience that she has family members who never made the trip to Washington while her husband was in office.

“I have aunts and uncles who have never gotten on a plane because of that fear. They never came to the White House because of that fear,” she said.

“If you practice letting it stop you,” Obama said of fear, “that’s what you will be: You will be stuck.”

“Breaking it is a muscle that you need to develop,” Obama, 58, said.

If she gave in to being scared, the former first lady told the students, she never would have made it to the East Wing.

“My husband coming to me saying, ‘I’m going to run for president. How do you feel about that?’” she said to laughs.

“My logical mind said ‘No, no, no, no, I’m very afraid of all of this,” she exclaimed.

“But I had all this practice over my lifetime of jumping over hurdles and using those tools that got me over to say, ‘I can do this. I can do this with you. I can do this and keep my children safe. I can do this and be a use to the country. So let’s go for it.’”

Promoting her 2018 memoir, “Becoming,” Obama said, “And if I had said no, I wouldn’t be here today.”

“There’s a lot of good stuff on the other side of fear, if you learn how to maneuver it.”

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