Civil War

Civil War pic

Those who know me know it’s no secret that televised sports—save the Olympics, X Games and FIFA—keep my focus for about as long as a goldfish’s attention span would allow (approximately three seconds, according to a Snapple cap I once read).

But when it comes to a UFC match, there’s something about it that makes me linger on the channel.

The two fighters shake hands and then go head-to-head. They’re both good, but one of the fighters is better—that’s the point of the match, finding out who of the two is superior.

Call it inspiring, call it stupid, but I’m always spellbound by the fighters’ willingness to get back in the ring (or octagon) and keep duking it out, despite the bloody noses, bruises and torn skin tissue.

Yet at the same time, it’s all very civil. There’s a mutual understanding that this is a fight, and it simply has to be done. All’s fair in the ring.

It’s the same way with everyday life, whether you’re a student, insurance salesman, a pope or a bartender. We’re all in the ring fighting against each other, and this idea is applicable to my work life.

Often, journalists get accused of twisting others’ words, which I—for the most part—resent. Of course, it is true for very UN-reputable sources like DailyMail or TMZ, but I would hate to be associated with such outlets.

And I get it when people accuse us of that—if there’s some sort of deadly virus in the air but rare enough to not really pose a threat, a headline for that story might read “Doctors say residents are safe from virus” but right underneath, the subhead will probably say “But patients are concerned about jump from 1 to 2 cases over past decade.”

OK, that’s a big exaggeration, but often times the focus shifts to the negative, or the scare or scandal factor. That’s what gets people’s attention, and that’s what makes them more likely to pick up a paper.

But even in my line of questioning, I’ve had my own words used against me. Again, I understand why. They (whoever “they” is at the time) are tasked with putting out fires, or to appease everyone. My job isn’t to fan any flame by any means, but it is to uncover where something—or someone—might’ve been burned.

I’ve been told many things—

Everything’s fine. You don’t know the whole story. I wouldn’t expect such a young person to understand these things. You’re out of line. Your words are bulls—t. Where are you getting at?

When I used to get my baby teeth pulled out at the dentist’s, I was always called “brave” for enduring the procedures (including the one occasion where the laughing gas started wearing out early on in the tooth-pulling, so—yay me—I got to feel the full effect of those last two teeth being extracted).

Those occasions seem so miniscule compared to the hurdles I’m sometimes (not always, though) tasked with during a tough week, like chasing down intimidating lawyers at the courthouse for a quote, calling an official who is not particularly fond of me and turning in a piece of writing I’m worked hours on but still somehow sounds like rubbish.

I feel it’s important I acknowledge the other areas in my life that require similar spurts of courage.

Even at 22, it’s scary AF to walk into a room and intermingle with people I don’t know, or people I know somewhat but not enough to know or care about their pets’ names, and vice versa.

And at any age, it will never NOT be one of the most taxing things in the world to put one’s heart on the line.

What it all comes down to, I believe, is the often unspoken battles that both parties engage in when such occasions arise. For the most part, you know what you want, and they know it too. The first one to let the guard down loses.

I don’t believe bravery is so much of a characteristic as it is an action. I’d like to think that I tend to act more bravely than not in these situations—well, I hope that’s true, anyway.

But whether I act bravely or not, I’ll try to convince myself of this more than anyone else: You don’t get to tell me what I am, what I’m not, or what I should be. If you tell me I’m not good enough for _____, guess what? I already know that, but you don’t get to tell me so.

I’ll keep dodging your left hook, right hook, uppercut, but I’ve come to terms with the fact that I will get knocked out in the fight every now and again. Sometimes for a couple seconds, and other times for long enough to keep me out of the round for awhile.

I don’t know, though. There’s few things that make me feel more radiant than when I’m sporting sweat or a black eye.

So go ahead—keep throwing your best punches. I’ll tell you when I’ve had enough.