College Essay Examples

The Power of Empathy


Once in a while, situations arise that introduce us to a higher calling, where we are needed to rise above our own needs and desires, to understand the needs and desires of others. These pockets of duty towards humanity exist only when we allow ourselves to ponder and linger upon the thought that we are not the only ones going through pain and suffering in life. Heeding the call to look beyond the branded image of ourselves and experiences and share in the present conditions of another person is what empathy is. It is an experience in our relationships where we become background characters in our minds and become wholly consumed by the perceptions and circumstances surrounding the other person’s actions. Empathy, as Kari Kampakis simply put it, is walking in someone else’s shoes (Kampakis)

Empathy and sympathy are not the same. The former connotes the ability to feel and understand what someone else is going through, and the latter is more focused on feeling bad for their misfortunes. Sympathy does not entail looking beyond oneself; neither does it include trying to share another person’s feelings. The fundamental difference here is that while we empathize, there is a weighted emphasis on understanding the motives behind someone else’s emotions or actions, but in sympathizing, we only see the action or emotion and make no conscious effort to understand its origins. Therefore, while sympathizing, the only frame of reference is us.

Empathy creates a society that is more aware of the needs of individuals and people in them. In such a society, everyone is aware of the consequences of their actions towards their neighbors, friends or relatives; and strive towards treating each other humanely. Empathy plays an important role in that, in this way, it becomes the foundation for creating understanding in an entire community. I have witnessed empathy in many ways in our community. For instance, more recently, the nation had been rocked by black lives matter movements against unjust and racial profiling by police officers. White people stand with people of color, knowing all too well that the system does not put them at a disadvantage, and some may not have lost loved ones to police brutality. But the pursuit of a cause greater than yourself and your own benefit; is one of the highlights of human empathy.

In her speech, Kari Kampakis states that we can learn empathy by having real and physical relationships with our friends and colleagues and avoid making phones our primary conduit of social interaction. We learn empathy by observing social cues and body language. When we say something rude, we spontaneously notice it and regress from such remarks.

Kari Kampakis also stated that empathy is a muscle that requires frequent exercise to become entrenched in everything we do. In daily life, I incorporate empathy by making sure I treat everyone as fairly as possible (Kampakis). I strive to abide by the old law, to do unto others as I would love to be done to me. Before responding to anything, I pause and try to think about the consequences of my next course of action. I always try to make sure that I do not hurt anybody with my words or actions due to being insensitive to their own circumstances.

Empathy is walking in someone else’s shoes and being aware that other people’s actions and emotions are the by-products of other circumstances in their lives. Life is not always about our individual selves. It’s about reaching out to other people and touching their lives in meaningful ways by actively listening to them, standing for their causes, and being mindful of what we say and do in our relationships. A budding community thrives on values promoted by empathy.


Work cited

Kampakis, K. “The power of empathy – and how it changes lives.” TED: Ideas worth spreading, Apr. 2018,


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