In 7th and 8th grade I was a wrestler. It was natural to join because my brothers were both star wrestlers in our school. Plus, on the occasion that I swung by the wrestling locker room to grab my brother, I noticed that all the best jocks in school were the wrestlers. If I was too suppressed to date the pretty boys, at least I could surround myself with them, right?
Since my brothers were such wrestling heroes in our town, I figured that talent should be my birthright. Right? Except my mentality was different: I didn’t know how to fight. I’m not saying physically fight. There were coaches to teach me that. I’m saying go head to head with another person who treated the situation like it was life or death. Win or be thrown to the lions. Not that there were a lot of lions in Pittsburgh. They weren’t just lyin’ around. Get it? Lion – lyin’? (I guess it’s one of those puns that’s better in aloud).
For two years in middle school I only won a wrestling match for two reasons: either the other wrestler didn’t show up or he did and he just cared less than I did. Toward the end of my second year, something snapped. I was against a guy who had lost very few matches when I decided, this is the one I’m going to care about. After two rounds of overtime with every point he scored being followed with one of mine, he finally beat me. I didn’t mind though. It felt damn good giving someone a run for his money. I enjoyed the adrenaline so much I forgot I was a closeted gay kid rolling around on the floor for ten minutes with an Adonis from two towns over.
I continued to give it my all until my last match of the season. My opponent was ahead in points and was starting out on top of me toward the end of the match. I had minimal time to bridge the gap between us. You know what the little jerk did? Run me as off the damn mat every time the whistle blew. That was his big defense. Get ahead and squash every chance I had of countering. After I had lost the match I was pissed. Granted, what he did was fair. Just dick.
The following year I did two sports: swimming and track. I couldn’t wrap my head around the idea that I could lose because of someone else’s stupid tactics. At least in these types of sports, I was the only one involved in how well I did while I was racing. Plus I also was no longer at risk of getting cauliflower ears. Google it.
Another reason I wasn’t as successful in wrestling was because I knew I didn’t want it as badly as my opponent. I knew I wasn’t ever going to be good enough to get a wrestling scholarship, so why not just endure it as well as I could so that I could get home and watch Full House?
Now, over twenty years later, I hate confrontation. Despise it. I had an ex who loved to fight, and eventually I just gave in to most times because it always seemed more important for him to win than for me. I didn’t need to win at 3 am. I needed to sleep. For me, sleep is a victory. As a result, he continued to believe he was often right because I folded. I didn’t fold because I was wrong. I folded because who has the energy to battle that long?
Recently I was talking to a friend about being nervous in certain situations. He said to go into every situation imagining everyone is scared of you. I thought it was hilarious. Have you met me? I’m about as intimidating as Grumpy Cat.
What do you do to imagine yourself more intimidating? Scary? Do I walk differently? Lower my voice? Stare people down and take long pauses when I speak because I’m worth the wait? Do I stage a fight and leave someone with a black eye (make-up of course) as a warning for others not to mess with me? Obviously somebody’s been watching too much Orange is the New Black.
I’m starting Brazilian Jiu Jitsu again tomorrow. If being able to choke someone into submission doesn’t make me feel intimidating, what else can?
And you know what else? Full House ain’t gonna be on this time, bitch.
(How was that? Scary?)
love and lions,