Michelle Obama on Being the 'First' at the Table and the Value of Her 'Natural Self'

Former First Lady Michelle Obama has made girls’ education around the world a major focus of her post-White House life.

On Tuesday, she appeared with three YouTube stars in a special on just that, in Creators for Change on Girls’ Education.

The episode profiles various education and wellness initiatives — such as India’s Study Hall Educational Foundation and Vietnam’s Room to Read, which Obama visited last year with Julia Roberts — and it includes a conversation with Obama and Prajakta Koli, Liza Koshy and Thembe Mahlaba.

(The conversation was taped in early February with other segments in the special filmed before that.)

In an exclusive preview, above, Koshy asks Obama, 56, about finding her own strength to be a “first” in her life so far — as the first black first lady and beyond.

“Well it goes back to an education. I came into my role as first lady, I just wasn’t Michelle Obama. My education put me in positions to have jobs where I was able to start my own organizations and manage staffs,” Obama says in the clip. “I was a corporate lawyer, I was an associate dean at an academic medical institution, I started a nonprofit organization, I was the vice president at a hospital. So all those skills, because of my education, lo and behold prepared me for this role of being the first, right, because you sort of get used to being the first. Oftentimes when you’re the first you’ve been the first at many tables.”

“But being at the table doesn’t mean acting like a man, and sometimes I think we get that wrong — we think, Okay we have to shed all of our womanhood to sit at this table,” Obama continues. “But the truth is, what we need is the balance of who we are. What we provide is the balance that isn’t there and that’s a good thing. Yeah, there are differences. They’re not better or worse, they’re not negative or positive. They’re different. And we don’t have to be anything other than our natural selves to add huge value to the table, but we have to believe in that.”

In the exclusive clip, Obama then turns to another key piece of advice for the young women at the table: “We need to find — and sometimes build — our own tribes.”

“That’s what I think a lot of these programs do for these girls: They pull them out of the isolation of their own homes, because the truth is you’re never the only one, it’s just sometime we’re so scattered that we don’t know we’re out there,” Obama says. “And these programs call these girls into one place and say, ‘These are the girls that believe they can run, these are the girls who are interested in economics, these are the girls who want to find their voice,’ and you’re not alone.”

Since leaving the White House in early 2017, Obama went on to release a record-smashing memoir, Becoming, accompanied by a sold-out book tour.

Her eponymous foundation with her husband, former President Barack Obama, has made girls’ education a key priority.

Mrs. Obama was named one of PEOPLE’s People of the Year.

“That’s been the most powerful part of the last year — talking with all sorts of young people about how the things that we think are our inadequacies are usually our strengths,” she told PEOPLE in December. “The simple act of sharing our fears and vulnerabilities helps us embrace our own stories and recognize how much we share with one another.”

Indeed, she said then, “Everywhere I went — from Detroit to Copenhagen, Vancouver to Atlanta — I saw this generosity of spirit: people sharing the truth of their lives, no matter how messy or imperfect, as a way to offer each other a little more grace.”

Creators for Change on Girls’ Education premieres on Tuesday (9 a.m. ET) on YouTube.

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