Being extraordinary is nothing to be ashamed of, and it’s nothing to shame people for.
When I was a kid, my parents told me that being myself is the best thing to be. They told me that everybody is unique, and to be proud of what makes up who I am.
I believe this to be true, but I don’t know how many others believe it, too.
Like many others, my adolescent years were difficult for me. I was different from most of the people my age. My family didn’t have much money, I wasn’t very good in school and I had the athletic prowess of a dead bird.
I got a lot of flak for my situation, but I never let it discourage me too much. Something that let me transcend my problems was my hobbies. I found solace in music, golf and my ever-growing passion for writing. One of my biggest and admittedly strangest hobbies was watching professional wrestling.
I know — professional wrestling is the laughing stock of sports. It’s scripted, there are grown men in tight diaper wraps and some of the story lines are so corny it can make a person cringe. If someone watches it without any knowledge of what the sport really is then it looks ridiculous — but hear me out.
When I was 12, my mom won two tickets to a live World Wrestling Entertainment event in Boise. I hadn’t ever really paid attention to wrestling before, but I was still excited to go. If I had known at that age wrestling was fake I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed it, but nobody had shattered my blissful ignorance yet, so I ended up having the time of my life.
I don’t remember a whole lot about the show, but I remember when John Cena came into the ring. I’m not much of a Cena fan, but his entrance was spectacular. When the first note of his song played the entire Taco Bell Arena were on their feet in an instant, and the building was filled with a deafening amount of cheers and boos.
The WWE commentators always use the word “polarizing” to describe Cena, and it is a pretty accurate description. People either cheer for their hero, or they boo the goody-two-shoes. I found myself in the middle of this wonderful spectacle that I had never experienced before, and I have been a fan ever since.
I loved the theatrics and the gimmicks the wrestlers played on television. The charisma of John Cena, Chris Jericho and The Rock just captivated me from the beginning. As a kid, these characters were so vibrant and alive. They were like superheroes.
At 20 years old, I still get captivated by the outlandishness of professional wrestling, and I am not ashamed of it in the least. People don’t realize it, but it’s basically a form of live theater that involves dropping people on their necks in a way that doesn’t kill them.
My closest friends give me a hard time for it, but that comes with the territory of being a fan. I watch to be entertained, and there isn’t anything wrong with that. There isn’t anything wrong with having an odd hobby in general.
My point is this: No matter what I hear from people, I never let it discourage who I am. I wish a lot more people would do this, too. I have seen a lot of people abandon things they enjoy doing because it isn’t “cool.” They don’t want to be the butt of a joke, so they change themselves to fit the mold of somebody else.
I believe nobody should ever have to compromise who they are for the approval of their peers. People are who they are, and making fun of a person for what they enjoy only serves to kill their originality. Instead, promote the growth of their passion. Encourage people to indulge in what makes them happy, and keep an open mind.
I am a huge nerd, and I couldn’t be prouder. I’d rather be hated for what I am than loved for what I’m not.
Andrew Ward can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org