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Power over Yourself

5 Jul , 2015  

 

“At minimum you always have power over your own actions” (122).

 

Power is a concept that binds social life together unknowingly for many people. Most people feel much less power to than power over, yet empowering ourselves daily is a constant reminder of the power we have over ourselves, if only that. In my life, I deal with a lot of charismatic authority figures (people who find power from extraordinary personal characteristics that inspire loyalty) from ballet teachers to friends, to my parents. As a ballet dancer, I am very much under the command of the ballet master. They tell me what to do, and I must obey. Yet while they have power over me, I also am allowed the privilege to put my own feelings into the dancing. They tell me where to go and how to get there, and then it is up to myself to make the steps full of emotion. Though the ballet master has all of the power, I feel that I share some of the power with them because I have power over myself.

 

Let’s take this online class or really any student, teacher relationship as a power over situation. As a student, I’m instructed to create this 500+ word blog post regarding specific instructions. I comply and write what I’m supposed to because I know I will fail if I do not. Oftentimes though, teachers ask students what they can do to help students succeed, just as professor Croteau asked us in a survey recently posted. What do we like, dislike, and want to change? Though I have to write these blog posts, the instructor gave me and my fellow students the potential to change the structure of the class. Though the teacher will always have power over the students, I see the power that students have as a group to change the way things are done in order to benefit the whole.

 

Growing up, I had a very different type of social relationship with my parents than most children have. I remember when my peers talked about their parents paying them for every “A” grade they received exhibiting the reward power parents have over their children. I remember being very jealous because I was getting all “A’s” and never earning a dime. But I knew, by my own empowerment, that I had to do well in school to earn the future I wanted. I was never grounded, meaning my parents never used coercive power over me. I’m honestly never felt, or it never occurred to me, that my parents had power over me. Sure, they paid for everything, but it never crossed my mind that they were paying for my life in an attempt to gain power over me. I felt equal to my parents in the aspect of making decisions and living my life the way I wanted to. I believe this is a huge privilege because though other kids were getting money for good grades, they may not have been able to choose what sport to play or what classes to take, their parents may have imposed their power and decided for their children.

 

I want to repeat this quote, “At minimum you always have power over your own actions” (122). I see this as a huge aspect of power that people forget about. In every scenario, ballet masters, professors, or parents, I see not only the power these people have over me, but also the power that I have over myself to make decisions and take action. I’m sure this is a rather optimistic viewpoint, but remembering the power we have over ourselves to create change is a social relationship within ourselves that needs revitalization.7a628a3a63ae123b89177da348ae41ff

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2 Responses

  1. heysladey says:

    I was always jealous of my friends getting paid for grades, too. I definitely didn’t do it “for me” though, it was more out of fear of negative reinforcement. That’s great that you and your parents had a more balanced give-and-take.
    I agree that it’s very important to recognize your own personal creative liberties in traditional power-to situations in order to be successful.

  2. Yeah, it’s interesting how often people forget that they don’t *have* to go along; they ultimately have power over their own actions, including compliance. And, collectively, the power of noncompliance far outweighs any “power over” authorities might have.

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