By Andrew Baggio
Along my road to success, I've struggled with decision making and a self-doubting, excuse-making, internal monologue. But, I've also learned valuable lessons that lead me to where I am today, and paved a number of pathways by taking a single step.
I wrote a majority of this blog well over a year ago but left it to simmer. Other projects and teaching have taken up my time and as a result, my passion for writing probably isn’t what it once was. Then recently I was put into a tough situation in which I ultimately turned down a potentially notable opportunity, citing that it’d be too difficult to put my real life work and responsibilities to the back burner for a long period of time, especially when the payoff was uncertain. Can you even take term-time leave in teaching? After making this decision I began to feel the dreaded R word that for so long I’d promised myself didn’t exist in my world. R-E-G-R-E-T!
Don't think about what could go wrong. Think about what could go right.
Whether this was the right decision or not, I’ll never know, so I shouldn’t kick myself too hard but what I regret most is letting my negative and fearful inner-voice take over. This decision was the complete opposite of the mantra that I have developed over my adult life. Yes, it’s important to be calculated in your risk-taking, but were the risks really that great? So what if I wouldn’t be making a teachers salary… the mortgage would be just fine. Does it matter that I’d be gone from my wife for a duration, when over a life-span it’s only a minuscule amount of time? Sure it’d be tough leaving the responsibility of my day job to someone else less experienced, but I could pick up right where I left off later on. Either way… when you’re taking a step towards achieving your biggest, longest-held dream, does any of it really matter? Living for others is a noble trait, but since when does that mean you have to stop living for yourself?
LESSON - Be calculated in your risk-taking but be honest in analysing yourself. Are you just confirming your own negative bias? Remember that without a step, there is no road.
Allow me to back track a little. I was a very shy kid growing up. I possessed a huge amount of self-doubt and suffered from crippling social anxiety at times. Professional Wrestling was my saving grace. In 2006, only a year out of High School, I built the confidence to want to travel and experience new Pro Wrestling teachings all over the world. This was around the time when I saw a photo of a translated Antonio Inoki poem (Japanese Professional Wrestling and Mixed Martial Arts icon) named ‘The Road’ that was plastered on the wall of the Inoki Dojo in California, USA. You know when you have those moments or revelations that burn in your mind for the longest time? This was it. A single quote inspired me, while forcing me to question the way I had been living. I had to go and learn at the Inoki Dojo!
Unfortunately the Dojo closed down 3 days before I arrived in sunny California and I ended up training elsewhere, in a tiny room, with some of the Dojo’s wrestle-orphans. Despite not being the original destination I envisioned, I created some fantastic connections with true mentors and built a lifetime of memories. I returned a year later, ready to continue where I left off. Unfortunately those mentors had all left, the opportunities had dried up and I was stuck for 3 months with no money, less than a handful of matches lined up and in a state of complete misery. For years I kicked myself for wasting my life savings and 3 months of my life. I thought that maybe I should have been more pro-active. Hustled harder. Tried to network more. All things that are very difficult when you’re in a terrible mental state. So I made a promise to myself and became obsessed with squeezing the most out of every experience.
LESSON - Always try to find a positive out of a seemingly negative situation. If your risk didn’t pay off, what have you learnt that will lead you on the right road next time? (Read: Are Your Dreams Setting You Up For Failure? to delve further into this lesson)
Fast forward to 2012. After again quitting my job and stopping my studies to travel overseas and learn, I was back working a retail job, studying full-time at Uni and just wrestling locally. Someone I had never met sent me a message wanting to book me to wrestle on the 2013 Big Day Out Tour of Australia, based on a recommendation from someone I had met during my forgettable, depressing 2nd stay in the USA. I’d be living shoulder to shoulder for 10 days with some of my favourite musical acts; Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Childish Gambino and Every Time I Die. This was another ‘Ah Ha!’ moment. Had I not taken that step 4 years earlier, would I have even been in this situation? Probably not.
LESSON - The road sometimes ends abruptly but can resume at any given time, without warning.
The best part is, I can list at least a handful of times that I have had a poor, disheartening experience, which led to something incredible later on. I have worked a variety of jobs since I was 15 years-old, saving up every cent I can. I have also spent my entire life-savings a bunch of times, becoming very familiar with the McDonalds $1 menu, just to seek out further Pro Wrestling education and maybe find myself a step closer to my dreams. Sure I could have just studied straight out of school and landed a teaching gig at 22. I could have saved up my income and bought an awesome car, or owned a house in my mid-20s. Who would that have made happy though? That was never my dream, so why live up to someone else’s?
There is no one right or wrong way to live your life. Be yourself. Find your passions and defend them with everything you have. If you don’t know what they are, don’t be afraid to take a step. Start a new road. You might just like what’s up ahead.
Andrew Baggio - Teacher & Professional Wrestler
Andrew Baggio (a.k.a Damian Slater) is a PE Teacher by day, Professional Wrestler by night, having wrestled for the likes of World Wrestling Entertainment, New Japan Pro Wrestling, and Explosive Pro Wrestling here in Perth.
Andrew has been able to combine his passions for Pro Wrestling and education during his time as Head Coach at the EPW School of Pro Wrestling in Malaga, WA as well as releasing his own weekly YouTube series for aspiring Professional Wrestlers titled 'World-Beater Wrestling.' Andrew holds a Master of Teaching and a Bachelor of Applied Science in addition to 16 years of experience in the squared circle.
Get in touch with Andrew
The next step:
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