I grew up legally blind and was bullied on a daily basis. Being blind meant that I couldn’t even see the people before they’d hit me. But there I was, 8 years old, laying on the floor while 4 boys kicked and spit on me.
Ever hear the saying that life happens for you, not to you? These experiences shaped my way of thinking and being forever.
To this day, I make sure that my work is always focused on being the person I needed back then. The hardest thing to learn as a kid was that sometimes, people will hate you for reasons that have nothing to do with you. And sometimes they are reasons that you can’t control.
Think about it – what someone else thinks about you is in their head – not yours. But still we have to deal with their inability to manage their imaginary friend.
Back then, I was defenseless. That changed when I turned 14.
After I got older and with my vision corrected, I joined a karate school. They also taught kickboxing and MMA fighting. I was told only guys could learn this, but the owner if the school was so amused by my lack of fear that he let me into the program.
I didn’t realize until many years later that my lack of fear was because I couldn’t see – so I’d just jump in the ring and go for it. I could see shapes well enough to tell where a person was, but not more than that.
The first time I faced off against an opponent I was so gentle that I didn’t want to hit someone else. After receiving a few punches, also remembering all the beatings I endured growing up, I got over it and fought back. MMA was a safe space for my repressed anger and a community of men who began to respect me as one of their team.
When I moved away to college, I left fighting behind and pursued other interests, but had proven my point to myself. I can be my own rescuer even when others let me down.
I just discovered Cobra Kai and saw The Karate Kid for the first time. It reminded me so much of the mentality I trained under. Johnny Lawrence makes me miss my former teacher and gave me clarity on how much MMA helped me become who I am today.
MMA was not just about fighting – it was about self-esteem, positive energy, and community that transcends into learning how to fight so you don’t have to.
Know your worth and align with your positive energy, whatever shape it may take.