In professional wrestling, a dark match usually happens before the regular card and isn't televised. It gives professional wrestlers the opportunity to test out moves and work out their matches. I'm nowhere near a professional.
I'm standing behind the curtain, trying to get the stress from the last half hour dissipate. It's not really working. There's a song playing, a rather bland guitar riff, but it's not like I have a song chosen. I've only been training for a couple of months. I'm waiting for a drop, a change in tone, something to trigger my entrance. The same guitar riff just drones on, a low dum dum dum dum type sound. The other wrestler, much more advanced, tells me to go in. I cross the curtain. I throw my arms wide and roar. The gymnasium holds the ring and several hundred chairs. Most of them are empty. The only people here are wrestlers, real wrestlers, some of their families and crew who've helped put this whole thing together.
This isn't the actual show. The other wrestler, Easton, wanted to give me the opportunity to put a match together with him for the afternoon, something we could do just for the fun of it. Other wrestlers would afterwards tell me this served as something of a test.
So why am I throwing my arms wide, roaring as I step down the ramp? Why am I even here? Because someone believed in me. I was encouraged in training, told I was learning quickly, and to keep working. I was asked to help with the transport, assembly, and disassembly of the ring. Now I was encouraged to set up a practice match by one of the top wrestlers at the wrestling school. This might all seem a bit pretentious, like taking the spotlight pointed at the ring and turning it round until it floods my face with harsh light. It might seem a bit selfish and I might be getting ahead of myself.
But I want to outline how important it is to realize who believes in you, and to let that allow you to believe in yourself.
I've already touched on some of the difficulties I've faced in the past year, and how I've tried to overcome them. I racked up significant failures, some costing me significant funds, others costing pieces of sanity. This was a radical change from someone who wanted to get it perfectly right every single time. It was a hard road, convincing myself I had the right to fail. It took people who believed in me, it took my absorbing what they were saying.
Over the past year, these individuals have taken different forms, and they might not even know who they are. I'm difficult when it comes to gratitute, a trait I'm trying to correct. But there are several people who have known I'd go far, even when I didn't even know which way was up. They were, and always will be incredibly important people in my heart, and I'll find a way to repay all of them, even those I haven't parted with on the best of terms. Because when somebody believes in you, it'll light you up. It gives you the drive to bash your way through doors; you don't even need them opened. It clears your vision, correcting your depth perception; things that seemed far out of reach suddenly look a lot closer.
What does this have to do with wrestling? I think Easton believes in me. I deeply enjoy training under him, and I think he enjoys training me. He makes me want to be a great wrestler, that I can honour what he's taught me, and what every single other wrestler in the ALE stands for.
After winning my match with him, I'm famished and looking for something to eat. I choose a handful of baby carrots while I wait for the hot dogs to finish cooking. At the table, a young boy, maybe about six, turns to me and says "Nice victory". I don't hear him right the first time, and I ask him to repeat himself. He does, and I'm floored. I don't know what I did to impress him, but I'm incredibly touched. I think I'm more pumped about this than he is. I shake his hand and thank him. He walks away, probably a bit confused by a grown up getting all giddy about a wrestling match.
Now I know why they all do it, and I can't wait to feel it again.