What separates me from everyone else? The difference is not what clothes I wear or the music I listen too, but what I feel inside.Ever since I was young, I have loved professional wrestling. I woke up every Saturday to watch my favorite "Superstars." As I grew older, I got a lot of flak for watching this "fake" sport. My peers would laugh at me for following what was called a "man's soap opera." So, I put my love for wrestling on the shelf. Like everyone else, I wanted to be associated with the cool clique. I yearned to be invited to the parties of the in-crowd and hang out with the popular kids. I became pretty successful. Although my Friday evenings were busy with parties, I would still wake up early Saturdays to watch wrestling. It wasn't until freshman year that I realized I wasn't being myself.That year, I tried many new things and activities and made new friends. In my town, football was the sport, so I decided to play football, thinking it might give me a head start in popularity. The team started with 48 athletes. At the end, there were 14 of us left. I stuck it out not because I liked it, but because I am not a quitter. That long season taught me a lesson: I wasn't a football player. More importantly, it taught me to be myself.After that season, I went back to being a wrestling fan. I watched it religiously, no matter what insults were thrown my way. I came across a quote: "Don't Dream It, Be It." When I read this, my friend Dan had the same idea I had. "What if we build a wrestling ring?" we asked. We acquired the necessary wood and equipment for its construction. The following weekend, we met at his house. We saw our dream in a pile in his backyard. We worked from dawn to dusk to build our great establishment. By Sunday night, our mission was complete. Our hard work (combined with a little creativity) had paid off. We had a real ring.We decided to hold an "event." We practiced for hours, trying to improve every aspect of our wrestling ability. The date was May 24th. Our show had a start time of 9: 00 p.m. To our surprise, about one hundred family, friends and fans showed up to support us. It was the most important night of my life and a complete success. Since that time, we have held five shows with as many as two hundred and fifty people turning out. We continue to live this dream. We accomplished what we set out to do.We are now well known throughout school. When I walk down the halls, I am respected by my peers. Some are the same peers who ridiculed me for watching wrestling when I was younger. When they approach me, they often say, "Good match, Chris." I humbly say, "Thank you," knowing I did something I believed in.As my senior year winds down, I'll remember all of my high school memories. But what will stick out most is the memory that I did something I loved, despite what everyone said or thought. I accomplished my goal ... I lived my dream. -
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.