A university culture of empowered students

By Sara Syed, Student Writer

Power is a funny word. It is sometimes connoted in a negative way with ideas of authority, tyranny, autocracy or forceful rule. However, power does not have to come from a negative place.  In fact, it can be conceptualized in a positive way to bring more authenticity, direction, guidance and happiness to one’s life.  The power I am referring to in this circumstance is one’s own empowerment.

With today’s political issues surrounding our school, the country, and the world, it is easy to feel lost and disempowered. There are so many evils happening worldwide that we, in Akron, Ohio, may feel powerless toward because the problems are much bigger than anything a college student, living on a college budget in Akron, can address.

So then what? Do we allow the evils to keep happening across the world?  Do we settle in the idea thinking that our voices are not going to be heard and our opinions are worthless in the face of the government (nationwide, and school-wide)? I say no! I say that each of us has a power, has a choice, and has an influence on how the rest of our lives and the future of the world are going to unfold. Now, this might seem crazy, but I promise you that each and every person on this planet matters, and everyone’s opinions and ideas matter too.  

So how do we be heard? How do we make a change? I do not have the answer to that.  But I do have some suggestions as to where you can start: the best starting place is with personal empowerment—taking back one’s own power.  

As a nation, we stay too busy. We are overworked; we put off conflict and problems to be sorted out at a later date. We hope for the best and may settle with the worst unknowingly. How do we move from a place of mindless and unconscious participation at school and work to a direction where our actions, thoughts, and behaviors actually impact the future of the planet, the environment and its people? It all starts from within.

We are all born on this planet with a special mission; we all have special talents, special interests, and desires, and we have these for a reason. They are meant to be brought out into the world. However, these special characteristics about us are usually drowned out by the shoulds and the shouldn’ts in our life. We shouldn’t practice art because we should be studying something instead that will give us a high paying job. We shouldn’t question authority because there might be consequence.  We should go to college because that’s the only way to be “successful.”  

The best way to win back your power is to stop living for the shoulds and shouldn’ts and instead start living for you. Do what your heart desires. Quit that crappy job that makes you feel miserable even if it does bring in income. Leave that horrible relationship that holds you back and makes you feel bad because you have so much hope that it will one day get better. Get rid of friends that influence you to make bad decisions.  Stop holding on to items that create clutter in your life physically and mentally.  Just stop! Give it all way, get rid of everything that no longer serves you or your purpose here on earth. This is the first step in living a more empowered life. Do things for you; simply for you. Not for society, not because your parents made you, but because you want to do it. This will help you to not only gain confidence, but it will also help you in other areas in your life. It will teach you to not be fearful or to live in a state of fear (i.e., “I can’t do X because Y might happen). I say do it anyways! Start thinking for yourself. Listen to your intuition. Listen to your gut. Listen to your first, initial reactions to everything you hear and everyone you interact with. If something does not resonate with you, it probably is not serving your highest good. How does this help? Because you stop believing everything that you’re told and instead think for yourself. Do you get all of your news from a television? Get rid of them! Televisions are used as another means for people to numb themselves from the reality that they’re living in, and to instead experience a false, temporary reality—much like why people do drugs—television, drinking, and drugs are all used as an escape from reality so that people do not have to sit with themselves, their thoughts, and their problems. They help to distract people from what really matters.  

You know what matters? You do, and your experiences, and your ideas, and your beliefs. But they should be formed from a place from within the heart, not formed from a news broadcast about an event on the television. Listen to what your heart believes is right in every situation, even if it makes no sense—this will help you feel more empowered, strong, courageous, inspired and connected.  We are living in a pivotal time; the climate change is at its irreversible breaking point, there is another world war happening right now over oil that will one day be in history books, with future generations wondering, “Why did they let this happen?  Why did they let the earth get raped by oil companies for profit at the expense of the environment, the world, nature, its innocent animals, and at the expense of the people on the planet who did not directly financially benefit (i.e., the 99%, i.e., YOU). Why did they let this happen?

I know there is a lot of work that has to be done on this world, but none of the work can happen if people do not first believe in themselves, their purpose here on earth during this lifetime, and their abilities.  Too many people are raised to feel insecure and without confidence.  The way to build confidence is to just act, do something.  Do whatever you want, accept the emotions that come, and you will soon realize that you can do whatever you want and the results will be beautiful and abundant.  You will realize that speaking your voice really isn’t the end of the world, therefore inspiring you to speak your voice more often.  You will realize that the opinions of others do not matter as much as feelings in your own heart.  

Once the people of the planet are inspired enough to connect to their own, truest selves, then people will start feeling more empowered and able to take the small steps necessary to create larger change.  It all starts from within.