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Stranger than Fiction

Nervousness, in my experience, is what separates those who excel and those who fall short. I have been forced to think about nervousness in recent weeks. As I have begun on the campaign trail, there has been a whole slew of events that have caused me a great deal of stress. Yet, I know I cannot allow myself to get nervous if I want to succeed.

Photo: Bobby Jones

Being nervous slashes a person’s ability to do anything well. Eunsook Hong and Lewis Karstensson published in Contemporary Education Psychology found significant evidence that school kids who felt nervous about taking state tests would test lower than students who did not express high rates of nervousness. This result might not seem to be groundbreaking, but the this observation falls in line with the powerful philosophy of Stoicism.

The basic tenant of Stoicism is that you cannot do anything to events that happen in your life; on the contrary, you can only control your interpretation to these events. This means there’s no reason to be stressed about anything that happens around you because you cannot control what happens around you. So we all need to learn to control how we react to these events and minimize stress. Epictetus wrote, “There are things which are within our power, and there are things which are beyond our power. Within our power are opinion, aim, desire, aversion, and in one word, whatever affairs are our own. Beyond our power are body, property, reputation, office, and, in one word, whatever are not properly our own affairs.”

This philosophy has been powerful in my life. During my campaign, individuals at CU Denver have tried to defame my character by calling me a liar or making claims that I have done things to hurt the student body. Every claim they’ve made just isn’t true though.I never expected this sort of thing to happen.

Yet, I know that I cannot become nervous. Nervousness is my choice and right now I am choosing to not let these comments get to me. I’d rather succeed. That seems like the Stoic thing to do.

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