Last November, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) staged one of its largest spectacles to date. What may be surprising, for those who don’t closely follow UFC, was how the event’s popularity centered around two women: Holly Holm and Ronda Rousey.
Rousey was the headliner. A dynamo who’s become the female face of MMA. Possessing incredible skills – matched perhaps only by her moxie – Rousey’s championship ascent has transcended the sport. From Hollywood movies to magazine covers and endorsement deals, Rousey became an overnight sensation.
An odds-on favorite to defeat Holm, Rousey was shockingly defeated in decisive fashion. A vicious facial kick ended the fight unceremoniously. Undefeated champion no longer, critics rushed to diminish Rousey’s previous accomplishments. Trolls basked in shaming the brutal fashion in which she was defeated.
During an interview with Ellen last month, Rousey opened up about, not only the physical toll the fight took (she was unable to open and close her jaw normally for months), but also her mental state:
“I was in the medical room, like down in the corner, and I was like ‘What am I anymore if I’m not this?'” Rousey said. “And I was literally sitting there thinking about killing myself. And in that exact second I was like ‘I’m nothing.’ I’m like ‘What do I do anymore?'”
My heart broke when I heard this. Because win or lose, Ronda was, and is, enough. Just as she is. Sadly, when the unrealistic pedestal she’d been placed upon crumbled, her self-worth followed suit.
I don’t know all the demons she may have been battling. But I do know this:
Confusing who we are with what we do is harmful.
For years, I lived this mistake. My identity was so wrapped up in a position, that when it was taken away, I struggled to adjust. I had too closely associated a title and place of employment with my personal identity.
It took some time to gain a new perspective. Reconciling the circumstances surrounding change doesn’t always come easy. The personal pain that lingers for a season (sometimes interminably) is often as uncomfortable as it is requisite. But much like those destinations eager travelers painstakingly navigate toward, the obstacle-filled journey leads to a better place. A place inaccessible any other way.
Roughly 7.4 billion people call Earth home – a number that is expected to more than double by the year 2100. Most estimates suggest that over 100 billion people have lived in the history of mankind. And each person has a fingerprint all their own. As unique as a snowflake.
Our self-worth is not determined by profession, social status, or last name. We aren’t more or less valuable because of anything we do. Bonus points aren’t granted for extra effort.
Don’t allow a job, a brand, or a cause to masquerade on your behalf. Heaven knows there’s enough of that taking place without any extra help.
The world is better off when you are you.