Stoicism for the Type-A’s
By Pranami Hayaran, BBA(FIA)’25
I might be undermining my audience by assuming their unawareness of the philosophy of stoicism, for everyone these days can be seen carrying a signboard claiming themselves a highbrow. But for my contentment, I shall plug in a brief description of what I want you all to recall when I mention the word “stoicism”. For the sheer subjectivity it holds, stoicism, in one of many thousand ways, can be defined as the exhibition of forbearance when things go out of hand and simultaneously standing on a neutral ground when things go your way.
No tedious philosophical working out would be done here, for I assume many such articles exist to serve that purpose. But this sure doesn’t mean a baseless discussion on the philosophy, for that would be uncorroborated of me as the writer of this article. The intention is to be able to forge an understanding in readers’ minds so that they carry, or more so apply the same in their college life.
So, one of the most revered verticals of stoicism is the accountability for our response to the events over which we have no control, no matter the extremity of the case. This, in esoteric terms, is known as the Dichotomy Of Control. It mentions the things we can control, and have full responsibility over, such as our actions, thoughts, beliefs, morals and values; in contrary to the things that we have no control over, such as other people and their perception of us, time, weather, economic condition of a state and many likewise. All of the work shall be to distinguish between these two and hence channel our efforts in the right direction so as to reap benefits for ourselves and those around us. It is an imperative organ as it makes us introspect and keeps nudging us by making us realize how tiny of a proportion of this universe we make up. Seldom do we observe that we control the events in our life; all we do is hope for no mishaps and then blatantly assume the certainty of life, quietly placing ourselves adjacent to the higher being.
Well, that’s enough of me trying to establish a clear demarcation between being regarded as blithe and stoic. Let’s move on to the real deal. In this fast-paced world that we are a part of, we are inevitably surrounded by stress inducers. Unlike in school, where our only concern was to secure admission into the college of our choice, college has a lot to offer. With a plethora of options and responsibilities, we undergo oscillations of emotions, both favorable and unfavorable. Stoicism gradually percolates in here, guiding you to not lose your sanity for it never is worth it. One contrivance of stoicism is how the Stoics advocated finding techniques to decrease the negative effects that emotions can have on our life, rather than the cold suppression of emotions. This purely, for the better, contradicts the widely accepted notion of being inexpressive to avoid further consequences, when the consequences involve being vulnerable. It is rather funny how this is much more prevalent in men of any society, which can be attributed to their way of upbringing, which often has faceless nuances of patriarchy, and the narrative to be the sole breadwinner of the family.
Ranging from low marks in internals (or externals for that matter) to managing finances during month-end while on a tour to Old Delhi, you will involuntarily fall prey to various negative emotions. Trust me when I say that ordering a waffle at 3 in the morning isn’t the cure for all, and you will have to take substantial steps to counter the mess you inexorably land into. My cheat code to smoothly facilitate the process and engraining a fair proportion of stoic qualities into oneself involves recognizing that there are no heavenly bodies revolving around you, and you are merely a tiny speck within the vast expanse, and almost no seemingly large action will land you into a trouble of great importance, one that is potent enough to affect your and your loved ones’ conscience. CBS tests you on levels unheard of, and for you to not fall into the pronounced rabbit-hole we are all aware of, it is paramount to have unwavering control over your emotions, because this ruthless place you call CBS can either put you on pedestals unimaginable or simply push you further down the lacunae of self-loathe and inadequacy. It, sadly, my friend, comes down to you and your decisions on the things under your control. Also, you are allowed to lose it all once in a while, but on the condition that you coalesce as soon as you gain sanity.
“College days will be fun”, they said. College days will be more fun when you learn to regulate your emotions, I say.