Thursday, April 17, 2014

No Co-Sign Necessary

Do & Enjoy What You Love—Because You Can

The cool thing about being a person is you can choose how you spend your free time.

That might be one of the simplest statements I will ever write; and yet, it’s so incredibly true. I can even follow it up with another bit of simplicity—a question:

For those in the higher ed/SA realm—how do we maintain the aspects of our lives that we are passionate about outside of higher education and student affairs?

For those outside of the SA-realm—1. Welcome to the conversation; 2. How do you manage your interests and passions outside of your industry?

For some people maintaining health and fitness is an essential passion to maintain; for others: sports, reading, writing, knitting, Snap Chat, painting, performing and/or listening music, concertgoing, hiking, cooking, tattoos, computers, tech—the list goes on. Some of these are somewhat easily integrated into our lives; however, some may be more difficult than others.

So how do we maintain the balance of doing what we love in our careers and doing what we love in our extracurricular interests?

How do we integrate balance in the first place?

I often hear people say, "I love reading, but I just don't have time anymore."
Or, "I wish I had time to paint more."

Hearing things like this makes me sad.
How do we avoid sacrificing our passions when life gets busy?

My suggestion: Make your passions a priority.

Cody Rhodes (right) delivering his finishing move, Cross Rhodes.
He is one of my favorite young talents.
My most implicit example of this is with my love for professional wrestling.
Yes, professional wrestling.

For me, Monday nights have three hours carved out so that I can watch Monday Night Raw. And during the rest of the week, I most certainly squeeze in any opportunity to view a match or two on the WWE Network or across any of the independent circuits that I can scout out on Youtube. I am eager to learn new stories and in-ring techniques being experimented with throughout the professional wrestling industry—so I try to keep on all levels of competition outside of simply WWE.

People often bash/laugh at my appreciation for professional wrestling. And I get that. Pro wrestling (or, rasslin) isn't for some people. It isn’t for most people. But to laugh and use the defense of, "but how can you watch that stuff? isn't real's scripted," makes no sense to me because everything is scripted.

Archer is scripted.
Scandal is scripted.
Mad Men is scripted.
Bob's Burgers is scripted.
Duck Dynasty is scripted.
Captain America is scripted.
Game of Thrones is scripted.
Books and music are technically scripted/written.

Just because something is scripted doesn't mean it doesn't hold value.
Enjoy what you will. Enjoy what you love.

Also, scoffing at something that someone gets enjoyment from is outright disrespectful. Now, I am guilty of laughing at some interests when I am caught off guard—much like most people are when they hear about my passion for rasslin. However, I am always curious to learn why someone appreciates a certain hobby/interest. The quirkiest hobbies always have the best stories/reasons.

John Cena (left) and Bray Wyatt (right) put on one of the most
psychological matches in recent memory. 
Last week I spent three days (WWE Hall of Fame, Wrestlemania, and Monday's epic RAW) being reminded of how much I respect the industry of professional wrestling. And I felt the need to reflect on my passion for this industry. Because when rasslin is good, it fills me with legitimate joy. And there is truly no better feeling than when you see dudes who have dedicated their lives to this industry and hear their stories and see their hard work pay off.

I've loved professional wrestling since I was a child and I continue to love it to this day (minus a few in-between years). I may watch rasslin from a much different lens, especially since entering graduate school. But I still look forward to it every week and just because I may not agree with the script all of the time, I still appreciate the art.

And when I don't agree, I make podcast episodes with my friends to complain and discuss pro wrestling! I love recording these podcast episodes because I get to prioritize and schedule 1-2 hours out of my week to just talk about rasslin. To just talk about something I love outside of higher education. It is truly a lot of fun for Ian, Rene, and Me (other dudes in the Against the Ropes podcast—Warning: Not all language is SFW.).

I actually hope to pursue a PhD in sociology or American studies focusing on the performative aspects of masculinity in professional wrestling and its effects on children. I genuinely think about rasslin a lot and want to enter into dialogue with this topic at a level of scholarship that hasn’t been touched yet.

Many people hold an image of rasslin from years ago when it was a much different product than it is today. Things have changed. The independent scene is stronger than ever and the big companies have taken note. This is why I appreciate professional wrestling. It is always evolving.

[NOTE: I originally wrote the previous text on pro wrestling, with some new edits, as a Facebook post fresh off my high from the incredible spectacle that was Wrestlemania 30.

And then Ultimate Warrior died. So I wrote the following…]

Ultimate Warrior was a staple of the WWF in the late 80s/early 90s.
My heart literally stopped when I read that Ultimate Warrior (given name: James Hellwig) died last Tuesday. This was literally the day after giving a highly motivational and coherent speech on Monday Night Raw—fresh off his induction into the WWE Hall of Fame that Saturday, and appearing at Wrestlemania on Sunday. I waited to write anything about his death until I knew exactly the full extent of the circumstances.

Heart attack brought on by stress. Makes sense.

Warrior lived fast and he lived hard. And since leaving rasslin, he has certainly left the limelight and withdrew from the public eye. Which, when he begins being moved around a lot over the span of a few days during Wrestlemania weekend—and possibly the hazardous cocktail of 90s cocaine/steroids may have caught up to him—his body might not have been able to handle the stress.

This early death is tragic and all-too-common in the industry of professional wrestling—Curt Hennig, The Von Erichs, Bruiser Brody, Gorgeous George, Eddie Guerrero, Owen Hart, Test, Big Bossman, Randy Savage, Chris Benoit—again, the list goes on.

I’ve been reading David Shoemaker’s book, The Squared Circle: Life and Death of Professional Wrestling, which chronicles the lives and history of many professional wrestlers who have legitimately given their lives to this industry. The book reads as one long cautionary tale for today’s rasslers to take note of the lives that have been led and lost throughout the history of this industry.

Many rasslers take extensive breaks (sabbaticals) to rest up and heal so that they don’t go down this route. The industry has changed drastically, as I alluded to earlier. Steroid usage has visibly lessened as rasslers have gotten smaller and leaner in comparison to the bodybuilding behemoths on the 80s and 90s. Wellness policies and health insurance are staples of the industry now.

When you are so engrained with characters in a book or in a TV show or in a movie and they die or are killed off, you feel like you’ve lost a bit of yourself. When Ultimate Warrior died, the world of professional wrestling lost a superhero. We lost a character that was larger than life. We lost not only one of the most iconic members of our community, but we also lost a man who inspired many young men to break into this industry. Warrior set the bar as a physical specimen and as a dominant force on the microphone.

I mean—watch this video:

Ultimately, I want to bring this back to my earlier context of being true to yourself and to what you enjoy doing with your free time. Rasslin was merely one example I could've used for this article. I also appreciate music, television, reading, writing, running, etc. The point of this post is the demonstrate that we only get so much time away from work and from the realities of life—so we might as well spend those spare moment enjoying things we are passionate about.

Don't lose an aspect of your identity just because you get a little busy from time to time.

Also, don’t worry about what people think about your hobbies.
Everyone is different.
Different strokes for different folks. Everyone has their quirks.

There are many reasons you enjoy what you love in your life—some may have different origins than others and may look differently in comparison with other people in our field, and that’s fine. Life is about filling your life with things that make you happy. Sure, work and making a living is important, too, but that doesn’t mean we must sacrifice our interests

Do and enjoy what you love not because the media or your friends tell you that you should love it. Do and enjoy what you love because you genuinely cannot consider anything else you'd rather spend your time/life enjoying. It really is that simply. No co-sign necessary.

Stay true to yourself—be proud of your interests.
Don’t hide them. Don’t be ashamed of your quirkiness.
Be quirky. Be a hobbyist.

Hope some of this resonates!

Be well.


Join the dialogue: @CrigBididman