Life is full of ups and downs. It’s a delicate balance between good and bad, right and wrong. Perhaps more important, however, life is a balance between love and hate. It can even be the bridge that closes the gap between all of these things.
The catch is that human existence only has potential when we make the decision to break down our own walls. They may not be walls we intended to build. They instead might be ones built as a result of a certain circumstance or situation, but it’s up to us to keep chipping away until we break through.
This was nothing new to me. It had become a way of life I never wanted, but it also became second nature. So much so that I learned to look at my cerebral palsy as a superpower of sorts. I had also gotten used to riding the many waves of emotion that accompanied it. Everything else that came with my disability, however, was trying to take away or destroy everything I’d worked for up until this point in my life – including my confidence.
It felt like I was taking a huge step backward as a sophomore in high school who had just gained that confidence in my own way. I didn’t feel like a failure, though. I didn’t necessarily feel like I’d lost my way, either.
It did feel very similar to the way I felt many times before, where the weight of my circumstances would become overwhelmingly heavy. I tried to shake it off and remind myself that the way I handle my disability is one of the things that has always made me strong.
This was a moment of weakness I didn’t want to have. Nor was it something I wanted to put on display, considering my first handful of articles for the school newspaper were about to be published. I was admittedly nervous that my worries and fears would begin to show themselves – at a time when I was supposed to be focused.
I needed something to let me know I wasn’t being weak-minded.
Something that allowed me to see myself through a different lens. I found what I was looking for rather quickly. As it turned out, it was right there all along.
My love of professional wrestling started when I was a kid and hadn’t gone away. In fact, it had grown to the point where I watched it every Monday night by myself, since my older brother, who introduced me to it in the first place, was starting to take interest in other things. I watched WWE for years because it was strangely entertaining, but then I started noticing how wrestlers moved and contorted their bodies in the ring.
I became increasingly awe-struck because I could never move or bend with that much flow and ease even if I wanted to. That was incredibly inspiring to me – and so was Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, who has become a constant source of motivation in my life. I loved to watch him wrestle and cut creative promos on the microphone. I especially loved looking at pictures of his meticulously detailed Samoan tattoo he got to honor his family’s heritage.
My reasons for being one of his “millions and millions” of fans shifted, however, when I found out this wrestler-turned-actor was once a boy whose struggles began in his early childhood – from being evicted from his home to having seven dollars to his name when he had dreams of “making it” somewhere.
I was absolutely captivated by Dwayne’s drive to push forward, regardless of circumstance. The more I learned about him, the more I could see why and how one of his mottos, “Just Bring It”, fit my life like a glove. I saw a reflection of myself in his story and I’ve tried to apply those values to my life ever since. Dwayne influenced my upbringing in a positive way that has carried over into my adult life. There was someone else in WWE, however, who would make an equally meaningful impact in my life: The Hardcore Legend, Mick Foley.
Mick’s path to pro wrestling is very similar to my own personal journey.
He didn’t have the “look” and image of many of other wrestlers in WWE. Nor did he move like other wrestlers such as Dwayne, whom he was rivalries with, as well as tag team partners.
Even on the heels of great success, Mick had to prove himself every step of the way. He had to prove to doubters that he deserved to be where he was, even when he was on the cusp of becoming a household name. Mick earned his place in WWE by overcoming countless waves of doubt and uncertainty from others. His determination made him a three-time world champion. It also made me look at myself in a different, more positive way.
That’s something I will always be able to relate to as a writer and a human being because I often felt alone in that regard – and still do at times. Being an avid fan of both Mick and Dwayne was fun when I was growing up. I looked at them as great wrestlers and still do. Now as an adult, I look at them as prime examples of hard and dedicated work. Not only that but being their fan has taught why it’s so important not to judge a book by its cover.
I found personal redemption in something unconventional. I found pieces of myself in two unique public figures who weren’t supposed to “make it” big. It may seem outlandish to some to resort to something like pro wrestling to redeem yourself, but it worked for me. It was a bold move. Sometimes though, boldness is all it takes to truly shine.
What’s Next? Talk with others. Take action.
We are proud of our SOCIAL INTEREST GROUPS—WEEKLY PHONE CALLS to discuss, gain insights, build communities— and help solve some of the most difficult challenges the world has today. Calls are for Members Only (although you can join the first call for free). Not yet a member of The Good Men Project? Join below!
Join the Conscious Intersectionality FACEBOOK GROUP here. Includes our new call series on Human Rights.
Join The Good Men Project Community
All levels get to view The Good Men Project site AD-FREE. The $50 Platinum Level is an ALL-ACCESS PASS—join as many groups and classes as you want for the entire year. The $25 Gold Level gives you access to any ONE Social Interest Group and ONE Class–and other benefits listed below the form. Or…for $12, join as a Bronze Member and support our mission, and have a great ad-free viewing experience.
Register New Account
Please note: If you are already a writer/contributor at The Good Men Project, log in here before registering. (Request new password if needed).
ANNUAL PLATINUM membership ($50 per year) includes:
1. AN ALL ACCESS PASS — Join ANY and ALL of our weekly calls, Social Interest Groups, classes, workshops and private Facebook groups. We have at least one group phone call or online class every day of the week.
2. See the website with no ads when logged in!
3. MEMBER commenting badge.
ANNUAL GOLD membership ($25 per year) includes all the benefits above — but only ONE Weekly Social Interest Group and ONE class.
ANNUAL BRONZE membership ($12 per year) is great if you are not ready to join the full conversation but want to support our mission anyway. You’ll still get a BRONZE commenting badge, and you can pop into any of our weekly Friday Calls with the Publisher when you have time. This is for people who believe—like we do—that this conversation about men and changing roles and goodness in the 21st century is one of the most important conversations you can have today.
We have pioneered the largest worldwide conversation about what it means to be a good man in the 21st century. Your support of our work is inspiring and invaluable.
Image ID: 246753730