I am fortunate to have so many friends and family around me and in my life. I am even more fortunate to get to do what I love so young in life. Every now and then though, it can get a little overwhelming. I don’t want to make this post about politics, because contrary to what most people think: I really don’t like to talk politics 24/7, I think that’s unhealthy for everyone. But in 2018, when I was deciding if I wanted to run, I finally felt comfortable with my decision because of the team I surrounded myself with. After that loss, I did what only felt natural to me, and picked myself off the mat almost immediately and started planning for the future. I was able to do that because of the great people around me.
I have big plans and a big vision for myself, and a lot of the time it scares the heck out of me. But anytime I feel that I have lost my way, or the moment starts to get too big to handle, I take a step back and just lean on the people around me. Sometimes it is just texting a friend, my parents, my sister, or recently I just write something in the notes of my phone, and that has started to help me sort of understand everything that’s happening around me.
That’s where the basis of this piece came from since a lot of the things I want to talk about are stored somewhere on my phone.
I’m sure I am not even close to the only person my age who sometimes struggles to stay positive as we go through our first big change in life whether that is college, or getting their first career, or just trying to figure out where you want your life to go. But, I want to give anyone out there who might be having a hard day, or a long week, or a tough year hope that things will get better.
Last week, I had to make a phone call because I was a little stressed out about something in my campaign, and while I won’t go into detail about what we talked about, at the end of the call, the person I was talking to told me to just “trust the process.” While that took a minute to really register in my head, I now realize that it makes sense. There really isn’t anything that worrying will change, and so I have started working on just letting the process play out.
Another thing that I have been working on, is doing things that are outside of my comfort zone. I am a pretty shy person as I’m sure a lot of you know. And, being shy and asking thousands of people to trust me to make decisions for them in Helena don’t really go hand in hand. So, I have really worked at talking more and being more outgoing. What has helped me the most though is the people around me. Of course my family is always supportive, but I mean let’s be honest, I don’t call up Mom and say “Hey, I’m working on not being shy, want to help me?” She would think I was nuts. But, there is one person who has really helped me come out of my shell and be more comfortable with who I am. Again, it’s not like I texted her and said “Hey, help me not be so shy and not be so awkward in certain situations.” Nobody says that. By having meaningful conversations with her has made it easier for me to be comfortable having those conversations with strangers on the phone or when I knock on their door.
In the weeks leading up to my decision on if I wanted to run again in 2020, I knew that if I was to run, I would be playing defense on a seat, rather than playing offense like I was in 2018. This has its own unique challenges to it, and an added pressure because nobody wants to be the guy that loses a seat. But, at the end of the day, I trusted the team I put together in 2018 enough to guide a then 18 year old through the minefield of politics, and I was comfortable trusting virtually that same team to guide a now 20 year old through another election cycle.
For those who might not know, I go to school on a golf scholarship and I struggled a lot to play well consistently during the season. I started to sort of play better towards the end of this season but part of that was because of two things I tell myself: Don’t think and you got this. I wear the words don’t think on a bracelet on my wrist as a reminder to myself. The second part of that, you got this, serves to remind myself that I’ve gotten this far, so I can go one more step. The hardest part for me when I am doing anything is starting. There was something I heard on a podcast recently that talked about the one push up idea: If you can get yourself to go to the gym and do one push up, then getting yourself to do two, three, four, maybe even five push ups is so much easier. That’s what I was trying to get myself to believe. You’ve gotten this far, whether it was on a golf course, in school, or in politics and so I can get one more step further.
The majority of that confidence now comes from myself. I can say with absolute confidence that I believe in myself more now than I ever have in my life, and more than I thought I could have even just two months ago as I slogged through another disappointing golf season. There wasn’t some magic thing I started doing, or stopped doing. I just started realizing that the people around me, whether that was my golf team, my political team, or friends are here to get me to that next step- even if they don’t realize what they are doing. Sure, there is one or two people who I have relied on more than others, but I got lucky with them and the fact that they are two of the most fantastic friends anybody could ever ask for, but they didn’t force me to become a better person. In fact, none of us really knew it was happening. In the back of my mind I knew that there were some things I needed to work on, but I didn’t make that the focus of the conversations I had with them. It just sort of happened. But, I think that anyone can get that confidence boost if you have the right people in your life, and cutting out toxic influences.
“Somewhere out there, a lot of people are proud of you.”
As I wrap this up, and sort of swing in back to where I’m at right now in terms of politics, I want to bring up a quote from the same podcast about failing until you don’t. I don’t consider my 2018 campaign a complete failure, but the ultimate goal was to win, so I don’t consider it a win. But, it wasn’t hard for me to get up off the mat after that loss because the whole point of life is to quite literally, fail until you don’t. Nobody gets it right the first time. You have to learn from where you messed up the first time, or the second time, or maybe even a third or fourth time before you finally get it right. I don’t know what’s going to happen in 2020. I know what I want to happen, and I know what I can do to put myself in the best possible position to get that outcome, but I have to trust the process. I also have to accept that this might be another chance to learn from a loss. Politics is a weird game. You spend a year of your life pitching yourself as the best person to make hard choices, you ask complete strangers to put their faith in you. You spend thousands of dollars to make yourself look good, but then it comes down to one day and none of it is in your hands. I first thought that you had to be perfect. Truth is, you don’t have to be. You can’t be. I became at ease with this reality when I truly accepted the fact that get to do what I love to do and that is help other people. And, that comes with some unintended consequences that I have to live with, like people not always liking me and having to be in the spotlight.
I believe though, that if you truly love something enough that you can deal with all of that. But, you have to be confident in yourself and in the people you have around you. They might not ever be named or seen with you, but behind the scenes they are the people who keep you going. In 2018, I was confident in myself, but I don’t know if I necessarily believed in myself a whole lot. Now, because of the people around me I have all the confidence in the world, and believe in myself to truly bring about change.
And, when I got ready to hang up the phone on that phone call last week, I told the person I was on the phone with, “Don’t worry, we got this.” At the time I thought I was saying it to make him feel better, but now I think I was saying it to me, and I truly believe that we do have this. I’m not saying that we will win simply because I am confident. But, I know that between myself, my campaign manager, my volunteer team, my family, my friends, and everyone else who I have let into my circle, we will work endlessly together to make sure that we have no regrets come November 3rd.
To anyone having a bad day, or a rough week, just remember that you got this, and that somewhere out there, a lot of people are proud of you.