Being a Rockefeller, becoming myself : a memoir

by Eileen Rockefeller

Paper Book, 2013



"A daughter of American royalty, Eileen Rockefeller is one of the first in her family to write a memoir of growing up with fame and fortune and finding her own voice within its storied history"--


(4 ratings; 2.8)

User reviews

LibraryThing member SigmundFraud
Being a Rockefeller, Becoming Myself: A Memoir is disappointing. It probably should have remained a private memoir and not been published. Who cares about most of what she writes. I ended up not liking her mother Mrs. David Rockefeller. I found her a withholding mother competitive with her children. She seemed to spend little time with the children. She was insecure in her role as the wife of a Rockefeller. She was from a middle class family and had adjusting to being a Rockefeller. I love memoirs as a genre but this is one you can skip.… (more)
LibraryThing member willszal
“We are the American royalty. We have an extraordinary inheritance of both money and service. Do not disappoint.”

This is the unspoken maxim of the Rockefeller family, as coined by Eileen Rockefeller in her memoir, “Being a Rockefeller, Becoming Myself.”

I found out about the book the day it was released from my Facebook feed. Eileen and I are connected there, as my father is friends with her. I bought the book for my iPad that day, and finished reading it within a week. I feel as though my life’s work involves our culture around money, so a book that explores this topic from a personal lens immediately captivated my interest.

My first impression is courage. Eileen’s candid vulnerability inspires me. Her willingness to explore some of the most challenging phases and aspects of her life thus far creates the space she need to further mature, and will give others the courage to join the conversation and delve into similar challenges in their own lives.

Anything taboo gains power in it’s anonymity. Money has long been a taboo subject in our culture, and Eileen’s willingness to talk about wealth in her memoir adds energy to a movement which is just beginning to find momentum. Allies include groups such as Occupy Wall Street and Resource Generation.

Underlying the courage is a pervasive sense of sadness and loneliness. She didn’t get attention as a child, and that scarred her. If Eileen’s father wasn’t so important, he would have had the time to parent Eileen. Luckily, Eileen learned from this, and sacrificed some of her influence to prioritize family. Her wounds have stayed with her, and only after a lifetime of work are some of them beginning to heal. The process of writing the book, which took six years, must have been very therapeutic for her.

For all of her courage in writing her book, in some ways, she has not lived a very courageous life. The process of finding a husband is a good example. Although she liked the man that she met, she didn’t go into depth describing his innate attributes. Instead, she listed the ways he met her checklist, which came from his abilities to please those that Eileen admired. For example, on of her mentors suggested she marry someone from California, so she checked that off her list. She took him to meet her family to made sure he made it over that hurdle. Very little of the decision seems to relate to how Eileen felt about the issue.

Another example of dependency regarding discernment can be observed in her process creating her center for the study of the relationship between mind and body. She initiated the project with a conversation with the president of Rockefeller University. He said that she’d be getting somewhere if she convinced three of his colleagues. She told each of them that the others would come through if they did. Her process was a blatant pyramid scheme of trust. Not that this is uncommon, but it’s a good case study. The issue with all of this? There’s no accountability. At no point did someone ask their essential selves what the right path was for them at that time. Instead, they asked the opinion of others. And the opinions we give come primarily from our unconscious selves, so we perpetuate a mindless force outside of our influence.

Eileen had many powerful mentors. I put a high degree of value on mentorship relationships in my life, so it’s lovely to witness the profound impact each of her mentors had on Eileen. Her most notable mentors were three men. I find this gender discrepancy interesting. Possibly this is the case because she was operating in a male-dominant society and needed to gain the skills employed by the type of men that become successful in that world.

In conclusion, “Being a Rockefeller, Becoming Myself” is both a bold and humbling work. Bold, for Eileen’s commitment to personal development and opening up a conversation about wealth and privilege, and humbling, as it reiterates the humanness of our leadership. If anything, growing up in a powerful family was psychologically damaging to Eileen, rather than an asset. I’d suggest that we remember that the one percent is not infallible. They actually face many of the same problems that anyone does, but that these problems are magnified due to the responsibilities we place on these people. I’m grateful for Eileen’s contributions to a growing movement.
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New York : Blue Rider Press, a member of Penguin Group (USA), [2013]






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