You’re Golden, Girl: Five ways to empower yourself

Graphic by Corrina Riess and Hannah McGee.


You’ve gotta love a Monday morning when the wind causes your hair to blow into your face — which proceeds to stick to your shimmery lip gloss. When that happened to me a few days ago, I quickly took my hand out of my coat pocket and put my hair behind my ears. Performing this tiny action helped me see the ice and avoid slipping on the sidewalk, and it inspired me to write this. Funny how that works.

1. Find your sense of completion

You can’t get by without doing the little things, like taking your hand out of your coat pocket to put your hair behind your ears. While it isn’t a major victory, it can be a necessary move to start your day. Creating a to-do list helps keep everything organized, and including those small but essential victories can help fulfill a sense of completion.

If you get too specific with your to-do list, though, it can get clunky real quick. It feels like you are doing yourself a favor and going the extra mile when you include several steps, but starting your laundry and folding it falls under the two-for-one deal. Even though it took the initiative to do both things, they can’t exist without each other. If your to-do list becomes too hyper-specific, the accomplishments which are worth noting become diluted. Never downplay your gumption, but stay focused on the big picture without derailing yourself.

2. Be deliberate

Cut the fluff. Trust your judgement; while making big decisions can be scary, you know what is best for you. If you don’t, re-evaluate. Don’t ask a million people about your gut feeling. This is true for every aspect of your life. Being deliberate tests your ability to effectively communicate about yourself and others with everyone’s best interest in mind.  The key to effective communication is to take the time to understand everyone’s angle, but stay true to your own. Make it known that you understand their perspective — and make yours clear too. If there’s something you don’t understand, make that known. You don’t have to put your whole heart on the line in order to be considerate.

3. Maximize your potential

It is important to get out of your own way. Everyone has intrinsic traits that can’t shine through without being refined — these are called “intangibles” in the sports world. Shut down any type of negative rumination, and recognize the signs of your intangibles. Compare it to a puppy with big paws. When someone says, “oh, he is going to be big,” the understanding is the puppy just needs to grow into his body. You bring a lot to the table, and while you may still be a little rough around the edges, your intangibles will allow you to hone your potential.

4. Eliminate complacency

We love instant gratification. When you receive instantaneous positive feedback — whether that’s from a professor, boss or even friend — it’s understandable that our first impulse is to just keep doing exactly what we did. It’s the shampoo-conditioner effect: you do the same thing every day without updating it. But it is easy to get complacent with our lives if we focus too much on the good. Trust me, the good is great, and we need the good — it keeps us going. The good is therapeutic. As you mature, you realize that doing the same thing you originally did to get praise doesn’t actually help you grow as a person. You need to accept that growth, and let your internal drive align with your instincts.

5. Be confident

You know what you are doing. Even if you don’t, you know what you need to do in order to know your stuff. You have to be your own role model and convinced by your own judgement calls. This does not mean that you are full of yourself, it’s just self-awareness. It is appropriate to look up to people that we aspire to be like, but we must reflect, not emulate. And ultimately, in order to become confident, you have to first be kind to yourself. The rest is just buttercream frosting.


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