Importance of My Values

As a young adult, I cannot stress enough the importance of our personal values. It is so important to stay true to yourself, especially during college. I was raised to respect the golden rule: Treat others how you want to be treated. My family has spent their lives catering to others as my mother is a mental health counselor, my father is a fire chief, and my sister is a mental health records coordinator. Their career paths led me towards my two majors: sociology and criminology. My family and UT professors have shaped my five core values: friendship, confidence, academic integrity, positivity, and honesty.

            I would after high school ended, my values remained relatively stagnant until the second semester of my sophomore year of college when I was elected to an executive board positon in my sorority. This position consisted of planning sisterhood events and sustaining chapter morale throughout the year. While running for this position, I had to reflect on my values of academic integrity, confidence, and honesty. As with most aspects of Greek life, it is important to maintain a standard GPA throughout your term. While running for this particular Vice President position, I called on my value of friendship as I needed the support from my friends inside and outside the sorority. My sorority friends consistently supported my ideas and campaigned for my election. My friends outside the sorority, both at home and at UT, continually supported my election based on my work ethic, determination, and stamina. Confidence was also needed within this position as I was required to make decisions about sisterhood events that would please the majority of our 155 members. I needed to have confidence in my ability to plan events and defend my position decisions. Honesty also was an aspect of decision making as I had to be completely open with my committee and admit when I made a mistake or had to cancel events for various reasons. I despise letting people down, so this leadership position helped me to grow comfortable with telling people “no” and accurately describing my reasoning for doing so.

            There have also been times when my values were tested. One event that challenged me the most occurred the first semester of my junior year. As I mentioned earlier, I absolutely loathe confrontation. I was raised to respect my educators, and have never experienced a personal confrontation with a teacher or professor before this particular semester. After having continuous problems with an elective class for one of my majors throughout the semester, I contemplated dropping the credits because it provided me much stress which was not proportional to the course load. By standing up for my value of confidence, I was able to have a conversation with my professor about a group project in which we believed we were unfairly graded on. When this conversation did not resolve anything, I called on my value of academic integrity to bring the issue to my advisor. From these various conversations, my group was able to facilitate another conversation with this professor, and eventually persuaded the professor to provide us with a rubric with the break-down of our individual grades. I was challenged by this experience because I was forced to be honest with myself and my group. We were able to acknowledge our shortcomings but also defend our decisions, which ultimately influenced our final grade. My grade is my own issue, but when my work ethic is called into question along with other students, especially my friends, that is when I feel that I must act.

            Developing personal values also comes the questioning of these ethics. I would say that all of my values were tested last semester. Upperclassmen always tell younger students that their junior year is the most stressful, but I never really thought about it. I found myself stressed out – more than any other time in my life due to various reasons, and because of this stress, I began to unknowingly push friends away. While I still valued friendship, I could not find it within myself to make plans and be invested in anyone else’s life that was not mine. Additionally, I learned that my boyfriend at the time was cheating on me. Never experiencing this before, I let the four remaining core values crumble. I lost all confidence within myself, let my grades suffer, lost my general feeling of optimism, and decided that lying to myself would be better than facing the truth. Now I see that choosing to stay in that relationship was beyond toxic for my overall mental well-being and eventually did away with this guy during winter break. After a couple of weeks of not being bound by this relationship, I was still feeling an extreme lack of confidence and had low self-worth. This was a negative experience that I truly felt that I could not completely trust someone. I have tried to make it a point in my life to only surround myself with positive people and dismiss any drama that may come into my life, but I had never been on the forefront of it. This experience definitely tested my emotional strength, and helped me to remember that I cannot change anyone’s actions. There is always a positive outcome to any situation, and everything happens for a reason.

            I believe my background, five core values, and past experiences all contribute to the compassion needed to pursue my dream career, and eventually hold a level of respect in regards to leadership within the field. I also believe that understanding the influence of self-empowerment can assist others in finding their true passions. This is a quality I believe a great leader should possess, especially when assisting victims of abuse. By influencing others to pursue their interests in a positive way, that individual is becoming a powerful, positive role model for others to follow, which fits my definition of a leader.