Learning to Adapt and Listen to Yourself By Lauren

I started attending Ohio University as a freshman in August of 2016. I went in to my undergraduate studies with the plan of majoring in psychology and one day working with clients to help them overcome their struggles with addiction, depression and anxiety.

From the moment I was accepted to the university, I began planning my future. I wanted to hold myself to a higher standard and push the limits of what I knew I was capable of. This mindset was challenged once I completed my first introduction to psychology course.

There was so much material to know and understand that it became slightly overwhelming as the semester dragged on. I ended the class with a B. I understand that a B is and was a fine grade, but back then I was so eager to push myself that I wouldn’t settle for anything less than the best.

I began questioning my passion for pursuing a degree in psychology and ultimately pushed myself away from what I thought was going to be my future. Looking back, I understand that maybe I did hold myself to too high of standards. As a first-generation college student, I placed an enormous amount of pressure on myself. In hindsight, I see that I was holding myself to unattainable standards, but I am grateful because it pushed me to consider other career options.

After exploring and reading about majors I settled on one that was going to be a stretch. Ohio University is well known for many of their programs, but one that outshines all others is the journalism department.

I never really understood what it meant to study journalism. I didn’t want to write for a newspaper, magazine, or report on air for a news channel. None of those aspects of journalism stood out to me as something I could have the confidence and interest in doing, but one thing I did know was that I loved to write and express myself and my opinions.

I noticed that there were two options for prospective journalism students. You have the option of choosing the news and information track or the strategic communication track. Strategic communication delves into the studies of advertising and public relations theory and applies those theories to the real-world of media. Whenever I thought of PR I pictured Samantha from Sex and the City. I remember thinking ‘I can do that!’ because to me, Samantha was someone who loved herself and wasn’t afraid to make herself big in a world where women make themselves so unnecessarily small.

I wanted to learn more. I became obsessed with the idea of being a publicist and living a glamorous life in a beautiful city just like Samantha.

To be considered for the journalism program I needed to fill out the standard application; provide a resume, writing samples, letters of recommendation, and a transcript; and had to meet the minimum grade point average.

At that point in my life, I had very little content that I could present to the admissions directors. I made it my goal to become more involved. I became more involved in class so that I could better develop my relationships with teachers. I took writing classes so that I could learn how to shape my writing and experiment with a variety of styles. I researched various ways to make yourself stand out in any application process.

After about a year of working on my application materials, I finally felt confident enough to submit my application.

Going into my junior year I was pressed for time to apply. I decided to apply for fall semester and risk it all. Sure, I didn’t feel completely confident in my portfolio compared to others with years of experience. I was, however, confident in my own work because I knew that it was the best I was able to present to the admissions board.

I sit writing this article now as an incoming senior with a declared major in journalism strategic communication and two minors in marketing and retail merchandising and fashion product development.

Since the time of my application and acceptance, I accepted a position as a digital marketing and public relations intern at a local firm that I absolutely adore, I have developed and published my own online portfolio, and learned the tools for researching and writing content inside and outside of my interests.

Although college is considered the best four years of one’s life because of the people you meet and the experiences you live through, I think it is also because you have time to become who you want to be. You can find the drive to make yourself better and ultimately discover your passions in life.

If it wasn’t for the B I received and the scrutiny I placed on myself, I would have never considered changing my plan that I had set for myself when I was 16 years old. Looking back, I’m happy I have and always will be someone that plans for my future.

College is the time to get to know yourself. Listen to your mind and your body for ultimate guidance throughout life and always be willing to adapt to change because you never know how it will affect you.

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Finding Myself in the Silence by Megan

I went to college looking for a new adventure, a new beginning to have new experiences and make new friends.  I had everything planned out, from the activities I wanted to get involved in, to the kinds of people I wanted to meet.  I had this picture in my head of how I wanted it all to go. I thought it would be easy, and that I would immediately find my best friends, and all would be well.  

Needless to say, the fantasy I pictured was not how it turned out.  Things did not go exactly as I had planned, and I often found myself feeling lonely during my first semester.  I loved school and being away from home, but I hadn't found that group of people that I really fit in with.  It was challenging trying not to be jealous or compare myself to all the people I saw who had tons of friends and had found the people they clicked with right away.  

My faith has always been an essential part of my life, and I tried to keep that in mind and trust that God had a plan, and everything would work out, but a lot of the time it didn’t make sense.  Sometimes I found myself endlessly worrying that I was doing something all wrong for people not to like me. I made it a personal problem and started to question who I was. I figured it must be something I could change that would allow me to make more friends.  

I finally got the wake-up call in my search for the friends I wanted, I was acting less and less like my true self.  I was starting to make lots of shallow friendships because I thought the more people I knew, the less lonely I would feel. The truth is that, I was only becoming lonelier.   

There is something about silence that has always appealed to me; the serenity and peace of it.  As a person of faith, I often find God in the silence. During this period of time, I spent a lot of time with God in silence praying about what to do.  Often it was difficult to settle myself and quiet my mind’s racing thoughts, but when I could it was beautiful. It was in that moment that I took a break from trying to search for the perfect friends and let myself just be by myself.  I took some time for just me and I began to realize something. 

It was God trying to tell me something: I needed to take care of myself first.  Not in a selfish way, but I had to learn who I was and how to love myself. When I stopped worrying so much about finding the right friends and planning everything out, I had a new sense of peace.  I understood the gift God was giving me. He was giving me this time to just be me and to work on that. He knew that I needed to love myself before I could give that love to others in a friendship.  I was looking at it all wrong. I thought all the pain from being alone was because there was something wrong with who I was. In reality, this time was a precious gift that allowed me to grow stronger, and recognize who I am.  

In the next few months that followed, I became the best version of myself.  I was strong and confident in who I was. I didn’t think about how many friends I had or didn’t have because I knew how to love and take care of myself.  It sounds selfish to take care of yourself first, but it’s necessary to take time to figure out who you are before you can share yourself with others.  

When I took the time to step back and accept being alone instead of trying to fight it, I realized I had never actually been alone.  God had been with me the whole way and he knew I needed that time in silence to figure out who I was. I learned to find joy and happiness within myself.  I was more in tune with the incredible things I was capable of and felt so much more connected to the world. One of the loneliest times in my life ended up teaching me just how much strength I had and allowed me to discover who I was as well as who I wanted to be.  Being alone isn’t always a bad thing. I chose to see it as a chance to work on loving and caring for myself and even though my first semester didn’t go as planned, it became one of the most important and beneficial things to happen to me.


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Breaking the Code by Robbin Koenig

In 2014, I had the opportunity to enroll in a 10-week free coding class. This was the second time this class was offered, and it focused on website development, the trendy new skill at the time, and was accessible enough for anyone to learn the basics. The course targeted the underserved, women and minorities.

Back then, my computer abilities included surfing, shopping, and writing documents. I didn’t know the difference between “back-end” and “front-end,” let alone, “directories” and “trees.” To me, a “child” was a biological unit that gave me a lot of housework.

After I finished this course, my knowledge of computer science went from zero to . . . let’s not exactly say hero, but it increased my understanding about how computers work by 1000 percent. I continued learning on my own and with other students from my course. I really enjoyed exercising my brain by learning something completely new and proving Jerzy Konorski’s theory of neural plasticity.

At some point, I learned about an opportunity to volunteer at a hackathon for underprivileged high school students. As a former high school teacher, I thought this might be a good experience to combine my newly acquired coding skills with my teaching abilities. Since I had received instruction in coding for free, I wanted to give back to my community.

The students were divided into groups, sitting at tables with two group leaders. All of the leaders were computer-savvy Millennials with high tech backgrounds and worked for Twitter, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and other tech companies. They could all code a thousand times better than me. The organizers and the other group leaders were all male, except for me. As the only “Mom type” in the room, I was pretty much ignored.

My group consisted of all junior/senior teenage boys and one ninth-grade girl. I think I can safely say that the lone girl and I felt intimidated by all the testosterone in the room. We instantly bonded over our mutual feelings of awkwardness through our shared fish-out-of-water situation. My co-leader worked with the boys and I worked with this girl. I learned that she was interested in Greek mythology and we talked about our favorite characters and stories. After brainstorming, I helped her to create her first website, dedicated to Athena, the Greek Goddess of wisdom and war. This was several years before the release of the movie, Wonderwoman, the ultimate girl-power film which has become a piece of contemporary pop-culture inspiring girls to empower themselves in a male-dominated world.

I subsequently continued to volunteer at STEM-related workshops for students through different organizations. At each event, I noticed an increase in female participants, or rather a return of girls becoming interested in computer science. Historically, women have always been active in the field of computer science, with the largest numbers of women majoring in computer science in 1984 at 34 percent. Some theorize that the decline of women in the field was caused by marketing home personal computers to boys and men, giving them an advantage of experience when the PC was introduced in schools.

I have no illusions that I will ever become a software engineer or be employed in high-tech. Computer science is just a hobby for me. The challenges give me a chance to flex my cognitive muscles, while improving that all-important neuroplasticity. My guilty pleasure is the self-satisfaction I get when I show a little kid how to “talk to a computer.”

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The World Can Set You Free by Katie

Hi! My name is Katie. I am a junior at the University of Dayton, majoring in Marketing and International Business and I have been an intern for Empowered & Poised this summer. I have always had a passion for adventures. Ever since I was a little girl I have loved to explore and find the beauty in the world. Traveling is one of the ways I do that.

This past spring, I had the opportunity to study abroad in Salamanca, Spain. It was a life changing experience and a time that I will always wish I could go back to. The semester was filled with endless opportunities that helped me enjoy the little moments in life. The time I spent in Spain, all the new people I met, and all of the places I went were incredible. 

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When I was planning to study abroad, it was the first time I felt like I knew 100% that I had to do it. I felt like I was completely making the decision for myself and doing it because I wanted to. I traveled alone and I think this is important to be able to do. I always feel rejuvenated after having time alone to reflect and relax by myself. I have found that being comfortable being alone is important. Knowing how to be observant, solve problems, and survey your surroundings is very important when traveling alone.

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A few months later, I decided to take a solo trip for three nights. Going on a solo trip was something I said I would do before I left for Europe. I went to San Sebastian, Spain which is located in the North of Spain in Basque Country. I took a 7.5 hour bus ride and arrived in the evening. Trying to appreciate the moment I’m in is important to me so taking in the gorgeous lush valleys and mountains and noticing the people and scenery around me is something I’m always working on. There are small things that I noticed people do that made me smile: the teenage girl across from me caring for her younger sister, the woman waving goodbye to the man she was leaving behind, the farmers passing by working hard to care for their families. 

When I first arrived to my hostel, I felt funny checking in, walking around the city, and getting meals alone. As the days continued this feeling quickly wore away. I laid on the beach and read, walked for hours along the beaches and coastlines, and found beautiful monuments to check out. Throughout the trip I focused on enjoying my surroundings just like on the bus ride there. One day, I stopped at a restaurant at the top of the hill and sat at a table that overlooked the water. Most days had been slightly overcast but just as I was sitting down a storm started to come. In hopes of beating the storm I started running back to my hostel and on the way it got so windy that the flowy pants I had been wearing almost blew down. I was slightly embarrassed but also stunned that it was so windy my pants were blowing everywhere. I made eye contact with a Spanish lady that was walking past me trying to beat the storm as well. We both laughed as she saw my pants almost blow off me too. It’s moments like those that I appreciate: being able to laugh and share a moment with a friendly stranger, no matter how different our lives may be. Life can be so beautiful. By the end of the trip I was so sad to leave the quaint city that I had enjoyed so much. 

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My experiences have led me to who I’ve become today. I feel like I am constantly changing, and I am proud of who I’m becoming. I’ve learned to be assertive and speak up when something isn’t right. Exploring new areas makes me fall in love with earth’s beauty and appreciate all the little things life has to offer. Learning to appreciate different cultures and immersing yourself in them is so important. Living 3,822 miles from home and creating a new opportunity for myself is something I am proud of doing. Being able to learn from different adversities that I faced and making the most out of the opportunity is what I think makes me Empowered & Poised. I encourage everyone to push themselves to travel because there is so much growth and many positive benefits that come from it.



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Overcoming the High School Blues By Robyn

If happiness has a measurement, then how does someone know if they’re happy? I remember being a junior in high school, hating everything and everybody that I came across. Girls I used to be best friends with in sixth grade until my junior year of high school totally flipped on me. I could never understand why they lied to my high school sweetheart and told him I was unfaithful. I could never understand why they thought it was funny when everyone was whispering in the halls that I had a black eye, due to the lies they spread about someone they called their “best friend.” I was clearly in a dark place mentally because I felt like everyone I knew had turned against me.

The following year I was in a different place in my life. I had “glowed up” and no one could make me feel like I had the year before. The “mean girls” still made comments when I walked past them, but after a while, the comments began to fade, and I began making new friends who encouraged me to be myself in different ways. After this experience, I spent hours conducting research and studying which paid off, as I was accepted into my first choice college, Ohio University.

Now let’s fast forward to 2019, as I have almost completed undergrad and I couldn't be prouder of the growth I have seen within myself. My two best friends moved away from high school before junior year, so they did not exactly understand the struggle I had to go through in my senior year. My best friends, “the twins,” had a slumber party and asked me to come. They disclosed that the “mean girls” would be there. But I didn’t see it as an issue, as it had been years since these events had occurred.

Preparing for the party made me feel anxious because I haven’t seen some of these girls since graduation and never planned to see them again. While driving to the party, I received a video from Snapchat from one of the “mean girls” asking when I would arrive at the party. They couldn’t wait to see me. I was so baffled, and thought this must’ve been a joke! When I pulled up to the party, I was even more surprised.

The girls who had done me wrong had seemed to forget and they acted as if we were best friends. It was the most uncomfortable thing I’ve experienced thus far, but in a good way. Although I was no longer friends with these ladies, they congratulated me and told me they were proud of me, which made me happy. It showed me in a way we all had grown, and I had to let go of the past. It felt so refreshing to be able to relax and have a good time with old friends.

While in high school, like many others, I suffered from depression and anxiety,  and I use to feel so alone due to my struggles. When I got to college, I met a woman who was from the same city from me and we had a very similar past. Instantly we clicked, and became inseparable, people swore we knew each other since childhood. She was able to help me deal with my depression and would help me get out of the house to get me in a better mood. This was one of the ways I was successful in college and I have always been grateful for our friendship I do not know where I would be now had we never met.

Jazmyne and I created an organization called Ebony Minds, which educated the community about the issues that black women faced in the past and continue to face in the present. I never recognized my love for politics until Jazmyne and I began to look into new things, and we found something we both love. Together we spread knowledge and served the community in numerous ways. While doing all of this, we were able to join a sorority together and become a part of a sisterhood with many other women who were like us in different ways. They all taught me things about myself and about others. While with this group of women, my relationship with God grew and my life began to change in many aspects. The sisterhood I found in college even before joining a sorority was so impactful it changed not only my views but also my life.  

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Don't Mourn Your Pants by Gretta

For years, I was in a strenuous relationship with my favorite pants. We were always on the verge of “almost-too-tight.” I endured the discomfort of wearing them, sucking in my stomach and ignoring the pressing of the waistband into my back, because they were just so cute and they went with everything. It was hard to find a pair of pants that stylistically flexible, despite their inflexibility on my skin.

A month ago, while wrapping up my first year of college, I finally dumped those pants in my dorm’s donation bin. As they tumbled down the shoot, they confirmed the uncomfortable reality I had been trying to ignore for months: my pants no longer fit. I had put on the freshman fifteen, and I had the stretch marks and cellulite to prove it. 

This weight gain is typical for young adults, especially in college. There’s a reason the term was coined, after all. But I don’t often hear about the psychological effects of it, especially for people, like me, who have a history of eating disorders. 

Instead of focusing on losing weight to feel better about ourselves, I want to change the narrative of weight gain to accept the changes and celebrate our bodies no matter what, and I want to help those with a history of EDs learn to protect themselves from relapse.

In high school, I injured my spine and had to wear a back brace, which severely limited my ability to be physically active. During this time, only a year after my first battle with an ED, I gained ten pounds. This may not sound like much, but for me, each pound was a noticeable, painful reminder of my lack of “control” over my own body. 

This was my first confrontation with rapid weight gain, and it’s a fairly common one. Injuries, depression, the college buffet—these are just a few of the many reasons people’s bodies change rapidly in ways often seeming out of their control. Social media and advertisements often promote a virtually impossible lifestyle that in turn causes us to feel disgusted by new love handles or looser arms.

After years of battling both ED’s and spine complications causing weight gain, I am still working to rewrite my idea of self-worth apart from my appearance. In the process, I have discovered some helpful ways to care for myself, physically and mentally, as I learn to navigate the new—but NOT any less deserving, powerful, or beautiful—me. 

Below are a list of suggestions for anyone who has gained weight—whether through an injury, the freshman fifteen, or just because—and wants to process it in a healthy way, rather than be embarrassed by weight gain, as society often implies we should be. To preface, some of these suggestions may not be right for you. This is not a prescription. Rather, it is a list of helpful actions that worked for me. If something clicks with you, try it. If not, that’s totally okay.

  • Make small changes—like drinking more water and serving one more vegetable for dinner—if it helps you, but try not to punish yourself through restrictive diets, and don’t feel as if a diet change is necessary to change your mentality on weight gain. 

  • Explore your new you. As weird as this sounds, looking at and feeling my stretch marks helped me embrace them. Ignoring them, I realized, instilled in me a type of shame, as if avoiding them was necessary so other people would, too—but why? Why should it be something I hide and refuse to accept? For me, exploring these marks normalized them.

  • Use social media to boost your mentality about weight rather than harm it. I wrote an article about this on GLO Hub, but I’ll reiterate here: craft your feed to erase body toxicity and enhance body positivity. Unfollow any accounts—like fitness inspo accounts—that leave you anxious or set unrealistic ideas of how your body should look. Instead, actively seek out accounts that promote self-love for bodies of every shape and size. 

  • If you like to post candids and selfies, then don’t stop just because you think you look different on camera than you did a year ago. Take those pictures. Take lots of pictures. Be unapologetic about it. Love yourself, and don’t stop because you’re scared more cellulite might be visible. Human bodies are art, as are photos, and combining the two can help you see yourself as art, too. 

  • Don’t give up on your passion for fashion. This was a big one for me—I had to get rid of a lot of pants, and because fashion is a huge method of self-expression for me, I felt that my shrinking closet limited who I was. However, fashion is made for everyone, regardless of what Victoria’s Secret wants you to believe. Do some research and follow some body-positive fashion accounts, and they’ll help teach how to make your closet work for you and hype yourself up exactly as you are. 

These next few suggestions are ones intended specifically for those with an ED history, although of course anyone who thinks these will help them should pursue it.

  • Pay close attention to your eating, speaking, and exercise habits, as they can be indicative of potential relapse and your mental health. This doesn’t mean to obsess or over-analyze yourself, but be conscious about how you speak about your weight and if your eating and exercise habits change. If you feel like you’re reverting back to ED habits, it may be time for you to reach out. 

  • While therapy is not accessible or financially feasible for many, if it is an option for you, I highly recommend it. Seeking out a professional can give you a support system and safe space to have conversations about weight, and they can provide next steps and assistance with whatever you need.

  • However, therapy is not the only way to seek help. You can also talk to someone you trust and feel comfortable with, especially if they already know about your ED history. Whether that be a close friend, a parent, a teacher or mentor, letting someone know about your conflict with weight gain gives you a safe outlet to work through things, allows you support, and notifies someone to watch out for you if you’re concerned about relapse.

  • Journal. Journaling is a great way to work through your thoughts, especially if you’re uncomfortable talking about your weight and body image out loud. It’s (basically) free, super therapeutic, and aesthetic af.

  • If you’re scared of relapse and feel like you have nowhere else to turn, call the National Eating Disorder Helpline at 1-800-931-2237. While NEDA’s hours are mainly during the weekdays, there are 24/7 helplines you can call, like The United Way’s number at 2-1-1, which can help with information and referrals about ED treatment. You can also text the Crisis Text Line at 741741 and they will connect you to trained volunteers to discuss confidential advice, support, and referrals. 

We live in a society that still often castigates stretch marks, cellulite, love handles, and loose skin, making it difficult for some to view weight gain as a normal process. If you’re healthy and happy at the weight you’re at, regardless of what it is, that’s awesome—keep doing what you’re doing.

For anyone who struggles, however, with their weight gain, I hope this article was helpful in giving you steps to reshape how you view your body. Because no one should get the freshman fifteen and feel like they somehow failed. No one should see their stretch marks and feel inherently lesser because of them. And no one should feel ashamed about donating a pair of pants. 

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Always Be Creatively You

During our elementary and middle school years, many of us are expected to conform. Oh, Skechers are no longer acceptable to wear in public? Better throw my pair away. Heelys are now in? Now I have ask mom to take me to the shopping mall. All the girls in my class are wearing makeup now? When I get home, I’ll watch YouTube makeup tutorials and learn how to apply eyeliner and foundation correctly.

During these awkward adolescent years, most girls blindly accept the “status quo.” They never think to themselves: “What if I like my Skechers?” or “Heelys are going out of style soon anyway” (which they did) or even “What if I like how I look, and don’t feel the need to wear makeup?”

This “conformity trend” goes far beyond physical appearance and material fads. It often affects one’s taste in music, favorite movies and celebrity crushes. At an early age, we’re expected to conceal our personal interests if they don’t line up with whatever’s “in” at a certain point in time.

In reality, this doesn’t need to be the case, and our Empowered & Poised team seeks to teach girls differently. We want girls to truly express themselves!

On August 17, we’re partnering with the Muldoon Center for Entrepreneurship at John Carroll University to plant a creative seed in young girls’ minds. Titled Creatively You,  this event will spark self-expression and, well, creativity through two activities: creating a vision board and tie-dying. 

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After cutting snippets from magazines, each girl will create a vision board that describes who they are, and what they identify with. This probably goes without saying, but each board will be individualistic and pertain for their dreams/goals for themselves, which directly correlates with self-expression.

As for tie-dying, choosing different colors to design a t-shirt will also give these girls individual freedom, as they decide which colors will appear on the shirt, and which will not. They can also dye the shirt in a variety of ways, which speaks to their own individuality and expression.

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At our Creatively You event, attendees will also learn more about empowerment and the importance of community. To learn more about this exciting and insightful opportunity, check out our Facebook page!

As always, remember to stay true to yourself - trends will always fade, but individuality never goes out of style.

The Emerging Butterfly by Shanté

It’s been three years since my mom went home to be with the Lord. I didn’t know it then, but the day she died was the day my life changed. A new me was emerging, but I didn’t know it. I didn’t really have time to think about it. What I knew was everybody relied on me to fill her shoes; an impossible task. I can only be me. But, who is Shanté remains the question….?

I’m the leader, the manager, the consoler, the counselor, the financer. The list goes on. When there’s a need, everyone calls on me. It’s not like I hadn’t been through many storms before, but this time was different. The storms were raging. One storm would hit, then another, then another. Meanwhile, I’m carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders. No one knows it. To the world, I’m the strong woman who has everything together. If it needs to be done, Shanté will take care of it. I was giving and pouring myself into the world, and no one was pouring into me. So, I continued to pour until I was empty.

God was, and continues to be, my strength. It is His strength that carries me, that sustains me. So, I’ve given all I can give. I arrive at a place I call the wilderness. I feel lost, alone, disconnected. I don’t know who I am anymore or why I’m here. I thought I knew my gifts and my purpose. I lost that too. What I’m feeling is my reality. I’m experiencing tangible losses that are impacting every area of my life, and I don’t know why. What I know for sure is the vision God gave me, and that I’m called to a higher purpose.  I’m trusting that everything I’m going through is for my good.

Through my storms and being at a loss in my own life, I continued to focus on encouraging other people to pursue their dreams...to know it’s possible...to live the life they want...to know they are a gift to the world, and give them a platform to share their stories on my talk show. I believe our power is in our story and our stories have the ability to transform lives. I hosted a large event for business owners. By the grace of God, I made it through. It was the testimonies of attendees that encouraged me and let me know I’m serving a greater purpose. I want to impact lives!

The best way to help ourselves is to help others! There’s no greater reward.

Now the event is over, I’m totally disconnected. I change my environment and go into solitude; free from distraction and worry about what’s happening outside of the space I’m in. It was necessary for me to be selfish this time. It had to be all about me. I desperately needed to discover me again. So, I’m away...just me and my dog, my books, writing pad and laptop. I disconnected from the social media..another distraction. This is a time of soul searching, prayer and seeking God’s guidance and understanding his plan for my life. I am an emerging butterly who has her new wings.

This is the rebirth of Shanté...the new me who I’m discovering everyday. I’m starting over in life and in business. God is restoring everything I lost. He is showing me who I am. I a queen. I am a light in this world. I am a disrupter of the status quo. I am a visionary. I am an innovator. I am a dream creator. I am a legacy builder. I am a healer. I am an encourager. I am a gift giver. I am more than a conquer. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. My story is to be shared with the world to give hope and help others to fulfill their purpose.

I am empowered by God. What makes me empowered is my willingness to reinvent myself, to go through the process and to empower others as I’m empowered. I am poised with grace and knowing I am a gift to the world and sharing my gift. I am empowered and poised as a daughter of the Kingdom of God to carry out His plan for my life and to make this world a better place. His Kingdom come on earth as it is in Heaven!


Girling Pains By Dana

When grade school begins (and even before then), it’s made clear that boys and girls are different. Whether we’re split into separate lines to go to the bathroom, have designated “play areas” or have boys versus girls games at recess, gender barriers are clearly defined - for better or for worse.

While boys and girls are made out to be different early on, the struggles of being a female didn’t really hit me until middle school. Along with the unavoidable (often embarrassing) physical changes that occur during adolescence, my outlook on the world and my future changed drastically as well.

In America, it’s expected of women to focus on and perfect their physical appearance. Makeup, name brand clothing and dietary restrictions are advertised to women at an extremely young age, which can easily create unhealthy habits on both physical and mental levels. As Beyoncé so elegantly proclaims in her hit song “Pretty Hurts”: “Perfection is the disease of a nation.” In America, her words couldn’t ring truer.

When I was faced with these “feminine” struggles in middle school, I noticed how my brother (who’s only a year older than me) didn’t experience the same obstacles. As I became entranced by my physical appearance and perfecting it, my brother’s interests didn’t seem to change. He still watched football every Sunday, played video games and ate however much he wanted without regret. I began to wonder why I had to change and my brother didn’t. I asked myself more than once: “What good comes out of womanhood?”

As it turns out, a lot. Coming from a single parent household (my mother is the matriarch), I learned a lot about independence and strength at a very young age. Once my middle school years ended, I realized that I didn’t have to conform to society’s feminine expectations, which my mom tried to instill in me years ago. Although boys and girls are different in a variety of ways, they can achieve the same goals.

While gender barriers have been clearly defined over time, we must remember: Boys and girls aren’t all that different. Although society has clearly separated the two genders, we must keep in mind what we have in common. Like their male counterparts, women enjoy watching sports, playing video games and reaching career milestones - most of these “differences” are simply social constructs - all aside from inconsistencies in male/female biology, which have been scientifically proven.

By recognizing this, I’ve empowered myself. If men don’t have to follow these societal expectations, then why should I? There’s much more to women than physical appearance, so why should I be consumed by my own reflection?

I shouldn’t be. While guys and girls are physically different, they have a lot in common. I learned this at an extremely young age, as my brother and I were encouraged to play the same sports and express our creativity in similar ways. When my confidence began to waver in middle school, I became confused by society’s expectations for young girls, and this continues to occur today.

We can even start with designated “boy colors” and “girl colors” that are established basically at birth. My niece, Sadie, loves the color blue, and she thought this color preference made her a “tomboy.” When I was the same age (she’s nine), I thought loving the color pink made me a “girly girl.” My favorite color was primarily determined by what society perceives as “girl colors,” and I strived to avoid “boy colors.” This same ideology persisted into my middle school years, as I twisted my interests to meet 13-year-old girl norms.

To prevent these norms from being accepted (and even encouraged) by society, we must address the issue head on, at an early age. If boys can love blue, then girls can love the color, too. If boys can love sports, then so can girls. Women are groomed to think that appearances are everything, but have we recognized what damage this belief can cause? Any flaw that a woman (myself included) finds in her appearance is amplified, as the female gender is expected to appear physically perfect and presentable. Returning to“Pretty Hurts,” this emphasizes how “perfection” is a disease.

My advice to any girl who doubts herself is to look to the empowering female role models that surround her - whether it be your mother, an aunt, a friend or even Beyoncé herself - you’ll begin to see what women are truly capable of.

The Power Of Performing Arts By Cindy

Hello everyone! My name is Cindy Tran Nguyen and I am a senior at The Ohio State University double majoring in Theatre and Marketing and minoring in Asian American Studies. I am currently interning with Empowered & Poised, working as a student ambassador at The Fisher College of Business, and taking three summer classes.

As of right now, I am doing relatively well for myself. However, the path I took to get here was far from easy: filled with self-starvation, heartache, suicidal thoughts, and self-doubt. My experiences led me to believe I was never enough for the people around me. My parents constantly verbally (and oftentimes physically) assaulted me. Boys were only using me for my body. And my friends seemed like they were leaving left and right.

The loneliness and pain I experienced in middle and high school caused my mental health to decline, but the one thing that got me through was a love for performing arts.

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I have loved singing for as long as I can remember, but did not get the courage to audition for theatre until my sophomore year of high school. I did not audition my freshman year of high school because I was still trying to figure everything “high school” out and did not think that I could have committed enough time to the art.

Sophomore year, I bit the bullet and went for it. And lo and behold, I got casted and in a named role nonetheless! She had her own story and solo and it felt like I was living the dream. I was able to run away from all of my issues for four hours every night and just be someone else for a bit. There was no time to dwell on my personal life because theatre is a community effort.

Through high school theatre, I learned how to express myself and communicate better, establish lifelong friendships, and prove to myself that I was enough and that I was good at something. Theatre really helped me to build my confidence.

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With this in mind (and thankfully a prescription for antidepressants and mood stabilizers), I was able to carve a new path for myself in college. Theatre still is a big part of my life, so much so that I have decided to try to make a career out of it. Just this last year, I was given my first main leading lady role and I could not have been more excited! It was exhausting, grueling, and debilitating, but I would not trade any part of it.

Despite the long hours and hard work, the last three years in the theatre department at OSU have continued to give me lasting relationships, an increased sense of self despite prejudice, and the ability to be comfortable in my own skin. I truly feel I am a better person because of theatre. Even if I don’t end up making a professional career in theatre, it is not leaving my life any time soon. What started out as a hobby has become one of the most important aspects of my identity.