Bullying is a topic so largely addressed amongst kids today. There are so many young children, teens and even adults that are victims of horrible, senseless acts. At 26 years old, I choose to rise above my own challenges of being the odd woman out. Becoming a statistic wasn’t an option for me. I choose to see past the heartless things that happened to me. The past is meant to stay there, but it wasn’t an easy mountain to climb over.

Unlike so many people, I have been blessed with a solid support system. Friends, family, and strong examples guided me through to make sure dark times didn’t become darker. I was truly lucky to have not found the bottom of a beaten path when so many others haven’t been as fortunate. I don’t do a lot of thinking about hard times but upon the news of the death of one of my childhood idols, I couldn’t help but reflect a little bit on how she was responsible for that strong example that lead me into the light I have today.

From an incredibly young age, I found myself fascinated with the world of wrestling. It began with Bret Hart and snowballed from there. Without a shadow of a doubt, Chyna stuck out when she walked into the ring. She was 5’10”, 180 pounds with a stoic look and the bodyguard for a stable back then called Degeneration-X. This woman was guarding men. She was protecting them instead of the reverse. She had to be something special. She continued her career path even further and went on to become the only undefeated Women’s champion during the Attitude Era and the first and only woman to become the Intercontinental Champion. These sound like a bunch of wrestling statistics but these were the factors that changed my life. She was strong when she was supposed to weak and she stood out and that was okay. She made it okay to be different in a world where people were telling me otherwise. I wasn’t pretty enough, girly enough, or “cool” enough to be popular. I didn’t know how to change myself for these people but her example led me to the realization that I didn’t have to. I was okay in being myself and I had the ability to surpass even the cruelest bully.

To most I’m just another “mark” or a fan in the wrestling world remembering my hero and that’s okay. That’s how it should be viewed for those closest to her. But, for me I am sending the final thank you I never got to say in person. She may have had flaws but no one is capable of perfection. Thank you, Joanie. Thank you for showing me how to be a better me and thank you for inspiring me to keep going to become the woman I am today. Rest in peace.