IN LAIMAN'S TERMS: Don't Wait
By Al Laiman
Mar 1, 2013 - 5:56:47 PM
credit Tom Jenner
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IN LAIMAN'S TERMS: Don't Wait
I was gonna try to put out the 10th edition of Ask Al today, but with only four questions, I'm gonna have to hold over another week with it. That, and there's something I really want to say. Don't worry, those who submitted questions will have theirs answered next week.
Today, I want to tell you a bit of a personal story. For those of you who don't care for the serious columns I do, this is your exit.
I spent several years traveling three hours at a time to see Independent Wrestling. My interest in wrestling was almost dead before I saw an Indy event that captivated me in a way I never thought possible. At the time, I was a newly-married young kid with all the hopes in the world. Truthfully, I was in over my head. I was 21 with a son on the way, a new wife that I would learn I barely knew, and no clue what I wanted to do with my life.
There it was though; that ring, the live action, the interaction, and the sensation of just wanting to be in there doing it. I spent half the show in the locker room talking to Chris Sabin and Christopher Daniels, just soaking up all the information I could on what it took to become a professional wrestler. I wanted it so badly, and yet I had no clue what it took to do so.
Life changes, and opportunities come at the wrong time. The first chance I got to get into a ring with a trainer, I took it. I hadn't gotten myself in shape or added any weight to my skinny 155-pound frame at that point, so I was a damn fool. I didn't learn any etiquette or learn what was expected of me in a training center. I legitimately got the shit beaten out of me for six hours, and I damn well deserved it. I hadn't realized it at the time, but I'd disrespected them by acting like I knew everything. I didn't think I'd ever go back, because if that's what pro wrestling was, I wanted no part of it.
Things changed. My wife, it turned out, was a pathological liar, and had been messing around with someone twice her age under a name that wasn't hers, a fake age, and untold marital status. I was crushed, but worse yet, I lost everything I couldn't get into my sister's car that night. Over the course of some investigation, I learned this had been going on before we got married. It's my fault for not being responsible and jumping into a commitment at such a young age, and I know that now.
At the time though, I was a shade under 23 and had absolutely nothing. It was rock bottom, and I needed to not only find a way to get back on my feet, but to learn who I was. Then came a phone call about some wrestling training out toward Pittsburgh. I had nothing else to lose, so I thought I'd go for it. That opportunity for me turned out to teach me a lot more about life than it ever did professional wrestling.
I never became a star, nor did I ever do anything particularly impressive. I was and still am a skinny awkward guy. I'm somewhat athletic, but I'm better at team sports. Somehow though, I got the opportunity to spend a few years doing something I loved on a level that is only a dream to many. I wrote about it because it became more than a dream; I went through with it. Sometimes achieving a dream isn't about reaching the top or becoming the greatest in history; it's about being able to look back and say "I did that," as opposed to saying "I wonder what if I had."
I get a lot of emails asking both about becoming a professional wrestler and writing for this site. At the risk of sounding like I'm standing on a soapbox, I want to tell you this from the bottom of my heart; go for it. Don't be stupid and sell your mom's engagement ring for training money, and don't copy and paste your favorite columnist and try to pass it off as your own. Do it the right way. Get in shape, learn the rules, get a reputable trainer. Take some classes, perfect your craft, find a voice that is unique, and post on the forums. Start working toward whatever it is you want to do, whether it involves wrestling or not. If you don't take the chance and find out if it's what you really want to do, you're going to spend the rest of your life wondering what would happen if you did.
You don't get a second chance at life, my friends. You can't be in your 40s and then change the decision you made 20 years ago to not answer that flier or not post that piece of work you wrote. Whatever it is in life that you dream of, don't wait for it. You never know what is going to happen. Life can change, and you may find yourself one day wishing you'd listened to your intuition and taken a chance of going after a silly dream. I won two professional wrestling matches in my entire career, and I have no regrets. I have lingering injuries that'll likely not go away, and there are two people in this world that I lost during that time whom I miss dearly, but I have no regrets. Some would say I failed, but I knew what I wanted to do and I got the chance to do it. That's what some people don't understand about that story; I didn't do it to brag about how good of a wrestler I was, I did it to tell people that you can do that too if you want it.
I'll tell you this too: Taking one professional wrestling training session will make you appreciate the business so much more than you could possibly fathom. Until your back slams against that mat for the first time and you know what a bump feels like, it won't register to you just what wrestlers go through each and every time they wrestle a match. You might learn something about them, and yourself, even if you don't go back for that session. At least, if nothing else, you will know. That wasn't for you, or maybe it was. Maybe you get to work on that Indy circuit. Become that character, come out to that music, step in the ring, and live out what you've wanted to do since you were a kid. Chances are, you won't work for Vince McMahon or Dixie Carter, but it doesn't matter. You will know.
I encourage you, please go after what it is that you want, and don't let people tell you that you can't. Nobody may understand this desire you have to step into a professional wrestling ring and become somebody else, but don't do it for them. Do it for yourself, and you will learn a lot about life in that business. The biggest thing you'll have is that you won't have to look back and wonder what if you had gone after that silly dream.
I can't count how many emails I've gotten from trainees and aspiring wrestlers, and I hope every single one of them makes it through training school and steps into that ring, whether it be once or a thousand times. I hope that anyone who has wanted to send me that email and didn't, sees this and does exactly that too. I hope everyone who wants to be a wrestler at least takes the chance and tries to see what it's about, because if I know one thing, it's that life can be a funny thing.
Wrestling saved my life, in a way. It's what I did on my way back up in this world, and now it gives me an opportunity to address a loyal and gracious audience on a weekly basis about a television show. Major universities are starting to contact me about scholarships, I'm working on my first short film, my Internet show just released bumper stickers (available here), and I've never been happier with my life. But it took a long time to get there, and life has kicked my ass several times in the process. Things aren't perfect, but I've earned every ounce of success I've had since life got to a point where it couldn't have gotten worse.
So if wrestling is your dream, and you spend many a night wondering what it would be like to be in that ring, that is my very simple advice for you: Don't wait, because life won't.
IN CASE YOU MISSED JADED HOPE #100