When I was around 8 or so years old my mom gave me a list of sports that I could choose from for the winter session. I remember picking wrestling solely for the reason of the popularity at the time of the WWF professional wrestling. Which is funny, because I never was really that into that, but it seemed to be all the rave in the early 90’s and I suppose I wanted to do those flips off the ropes. Who knows what was going through the head of my 8-year-old self. For whatever reason, I did wrestling that year.
Obviously, it was not the same thing as I had imagined, but that didn’t phase me. I got some cool headgear and got to wear what I thought were some pretty cool sneakers. It turns out I was pretty good at this sport. I can still remember my first competition. I had no idea what was going, I was just annoyed I had to wait so long. I was accustomed to soccer and basketball where you just get there, warm up and start playing. Finally, my name was called and took to the mat. If I can remember correctly I won pretty easily. I kept winning competitions from that day on and was probably past midway through the season and still had not lost. Then, on one unexpected day, I was faced with a much larger kid. I fought my hardest, refusing to give up my perfect record. It was a good fight, I can remember because my mom caught everything on those old VHS cameras so I could relive the moment again and again. The large child laid all his weight on me, I was on my stomach trying desperately to push my body up. All the little veins were popping out as I gave it my all. However, as you might expect, I lost. I cried after that loss. I am not really sure if I was actually physically hurt, or my ego was hurt. Maybe both. Apparently, my fierce competitor was a weight class above me (or two). My coach decided that it was important for me to learn to lose.
At the time, I did not appreciate the little life lesson on the wrestling mat. I had lost in other things, and I was not the brightest bulb in the classroom in elementary school, so why couldn’t I just have this. I just laugh to myself now when I think of this memory. Nonetheless, the lesson was dealt.
Failing and losing is just a part of life. I don’t like it, and I work really hard to win most of the time. I begrudgingly was in long distance relationship for the past 2.5 years. It has been said, again and again, long distance never works. I know my personality and knew long distance was something I was not going to be good at. Yet, the love is strong, so I went into it. If I thought the large child wrestler was tough, this was like wrestling a sumo dude. As predicted, the weight felt unbearable. I had moments of greatness and awesome adventures in the process, but the dark grueling moments is what almost killed me (maybe a little dramatic here, but I am latino so I just call it passion). I wanted out, I hated failing, losing and suffering and just wanted to stop the pain. Thankfully my partner never gave up on me and never let me give up. I dug deep and stayed with it. About 3 or 4 months away from the BIG move was when it felt the most grueling. Like at the end of a race and you have nothing left in the tank, how the hell are you going to find the energy for that last kick to finish strong. The stress was high, work was extremely busy and unpleasant at the time. If that was not enough, I had to do a temporary move to a friend’s house since my lease was up at my current place. The stress and anxiety of all the uncertainty in my life felt like my entire world was crumbling in front of my eyes.
I failed so many times in this relationship. I failed myself and I failed my partner. They say distance is hard, but those that have gone through it know there really aren’t words to describe how hard it is. It’s also different for everyone. My personality type is going to struggle a lot more in a long distance relationship than others would. I am typing this now from our home in Texas. As they say, I lost so many battles along the way, but I didn’t lose the war. When all was at it’s darkest, is when I mustered up the fire from God knows where to give our relationship that last kick to finish strong. We got some cuts and bruises along the way, it’s not this fairy tale ending you are brainwashed to believe is real as a child, but we are here. Time and more work are still ahead of us, but it will come.
Everyone has their challenges, and it is through those greatest challenges that we find ourselves. If you go through life, always playing it safe because you are afraid to lose and fail then you never really are tested, you never rise up again and show your true strength. Losing is important and necessary for our personal growth. Family and friends want to protect us from the hardships of life, they don’t want to see us suffer, but given the right tools, we persevere the hardest of challenges. It sounds weird, but I am happy I had got the opportunity to suffer a little in this long distance relationship. At the conclusion of any competition, when the final whistle is blown, the winner is the “teacher” and the loser is the “student”. The “teacher” (winner) exposes a weakness and capitalizes on it to win the competition. It is the duty of the “student” to learn from this weakness and become stronger from the experience. This experience has taught me a lot about myself and what I am capable of, and I feel like a better and more prepared human being for it. So take on that large challenge on the wrestling mat of life, and fight the good fight. It’s ok to fail, just pick yourself up, learn, and move forward.