Today, the first thing I'm thinking about belonging. I'm thinking about belonging, specifically as it relates to my entry into the wrestling world (such as it is). Over the weekend, our little indie federation had its big annual meeting, where the current administration goes over the year that's just gone by, and the next administration is voted in. I'm not going to go into the specifics of the assembly. It's probably seriously boring to those outside the federation, and I don't even know if it'd be a big faux pas to talk about it in the first place. When in doubt, shut your mouth. What I actually want to write about is how being in that room felt. Having wrestled in two matches now, I've started calling myself a wrestler. I have an issue with labels like that and self-applying them, but being in that room made me feel like it was right to use. I'm not a full member of the federation yet (haven't wrestled enough), but I still felt like I belonged in that room. It wasn't because of anything said or done by any other wrestler, there was enough going on and enough to do without anyone worrying about making the rookie feel welcome. This is understandable when it's a nice Sunday evening and most people are out barbecuing instead of sitting in a rented room going over procedures and reports.
The reason I felt such a strong sense of belonging isn't because I'd been in the ring like everyone in that room. It's simply that everyone there was willing to spend several hours of their Sunday evening (of the first nice weekend of the summer) here, doing this. They cared about their federation, and they cared about wrestling. This is no one's job, no one's making thousands of dollars. But they were here, debating important issues and giving their time. It had been a long time since I'd been in a room of people this passionate about the thing that brought them together. I don't exaggerate when I say it feels like I'd been looking for this exact room for months. Every single wrestler there cared deeply about their sport (art?) and wanted to make it better. I felt that same feeling, but whether it was born in me or came through some kind of osmosis, I felt it. I wanted to see this federation grow, and I wanted to help make it happen. Maybe it's because they gave me such a big shot and trusted me enough to put me in a tag team match opposite their champ. I spent a long time feeling like a sucker for chasing things that mattered to me, pouring time, energy and money into different ventures. There's plenty for a hardcore critic to dissect and criticize in my last year. There's mistakes, people I've let down and money lost. But at least I don't regret any of it. There's safety in the knowledge that everything that's happened has led me here, where I am right now.
Which brings me to the second point on my brain's strange agenda. Here is not There. I want to be There so badly. Even though I'm trying to manage my expectations and be patient, I'm still catching myself getting hung up on not being There yet. I got an agent...but I've only gotten one audition. I'm writing for a living(ish), but not getting paid for doing the kind of writing I want. I work no less than ten hour days (yeah I know, boohoo), but most of that time isn't paid. I only look at Here when I want to compare it to There. I get this idea of what There looks like, and it's discouraging when I look at all the steps between it and Here. Always looking forward means you've always got your goal in sight, but it blinds you to all the work you've already done. Keeping your eye on the biggest peak still ahead makes you forget the mountains you've already climbed to be where you are. Perfect example of this happened over the weekend. A movie happened to be filming in my hometown, looking for extras. The scene takes place in an auditorium during a big ceremony. I signed up. It only pays minimum wage, but I know that sets like this one have long days (turned out being a 16 hour day). The next day, at a birthday party, several people congratulate me. What's my reaction? "It's just extra work, they'll take anybody." I feel no sense of accomplishment at all, which leads to my rebuking any congratulations. Should I be happy with what I've been able to do so far? It dangerously stinks of complacency, or at least that's what I tell myself to justify my attitude. Complacency isn't going to get There.
But maybe I should take another look around Here, and appreciate the paths that led me to it.