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With the fall semester starting, many of us are returning to class, jobs, internships, clubs, etc. As college women, it can be easy for us to question our place in these settings. The patriarchy tells us that leaders in these settings should be men, and that we should bend to their opinions and directions. Even though I know that I deserve to be in these spaces sometimes I subconsciously make myself smaller and act as if I’m beneath my male peers. I’ll wait to speak until I’ve gotten a sense of the room. I’ll apologize for sharing my opinion or for speaking too much. While everything in me knows that women can and should be student leaders, my actions can reflect a deeper insecurity that I haven’t yet earned my place and thus, shouldn’t be a leader.

If you have ever found yourself in a similar situation to the one I often experience, know that it is not your fault. It is part of the culture we live in. Decisive women, especially women of color, are labeled as angry, hysterical, and irrational. Women are gravely underrepresented in many spheres: politics, academia, and religion, to name a few. So no, it is not our fault, when us young women sometimes question our place or unintentionally devalue our worth. However, we can’t let subconscious insecurity prohibit us from being the bold, strong leaders we are meant to be. Instead, we must remind ourselves of how incredible we are and walk into every situation with the confidence we so greatly deserve. When we operate confidently, we show the world that we know who we are and that we’re proud of it. We help pave the way for the future women of our campus. We don’t have to adjust to the tone of a room, we can set the tone.

Having the confidence to set the tone is much easier said than done, like most thingsHere’s what has helped  me to be more confident in being the bold, creative, young woman I was meant to be:

  1. Shake off unrealistic expectations Society expects women to work harder to prove that they deserve the same opportunities as men. Women in professional spheres have to show that they are smart enough to be taken seriously and strong enough to survive in a “boys’ club.” But guess what? Nobody’s perfect, regardless of their gender. So while society may pressure you into appearing perfect, don’t put that same pressure on yourself. You are going to fail countless times. And that’s okay, because everyone else around you is going to do the same. Give yourself grace when you make a bad grade or pitch a bad idea: it just brings you one step closer to success.

  2. Don’t quit because you’re intimidated Feeling intimidated is obviously something you cannot control. I totally understand how college can be a scary place. Believe me, I get nervous having to introduce myself in a new class, and I am completely intimidated when it comes to work or organizational settings. However, that feeling of intimidation isn’t reason to quit, it’s reason to keep going. Now is the time to show yourself and the world what you are capable of.

  3. Let go of what people think I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stayed silent about an idea I had or a question I knew the answer to simply because I feared of what people might think. I easily convince myself that people will be offended or annoyed with what I have to say. But in

reality, they probably won’t even think twice about it. If anything, they’ll probably appreciate the good ideas and knowledge that I have. The same goes for you. And if someone does have a problem with you choosing to speak up, their opinion doesn’t matter anyway. You are a smart woman with the right to speak up as you chose to. No one should make you feel too small to share your voice.

4. Make time for rest

This one might seem counterintuitive:why would you take a break when you could be making big moves on campus? Rest is essential for reaching your full potential (hey, that rhymes!). Without proper self-care, you can’t be your best. Plus, resting can make us feel more assured of who we are; therefore, increasing our confidence! So whether you practice self-care through meditating, bathing, journaling, exercising, baking, or anything else: make sure to make time for it! Allow your mind and body to have a break and do some things that are solely for you! You deserve it, girl boss!

I hope you know how valuable you are and how powerful your voice is. Don’t shy away from sharing what you have to offer to the world. It needs you. LSU needs you. You deserve to be fully confident in yourself and your abilities. You don’t have to change to adjust to the tone of a situation, you can set the tone.

“I decided that I wasn’t bossy, I was confident and strong. I wasn’t loud. I was a young woman with something important to say.” -Michelle Obama

Angelina Cantelli is studying Psychology and English at Lousiana State University. She also is working towards a minor in Women and Gender Studies. Some of her favorite things are musical theatre, Jane Austen novels, and chai tea lattes!
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