I should preface this unusual feature with a few facts. This isn’t something I’ve done before and is probably something I will never do again in this same vein. My features tend to highlight specific people and sometimes events as well – carrying with them paramount feeling and lifting up those who so rightfully deserve to be held in high esteem. It’s what I do, and I adore every single one. They come from my heart, and letters do the same but carry with them something else as well.
We write them – much less often now than in years past – because we wish to convey something personal. We create them with precision and tact. By carefully constructing them to deliver a specific message, we are doing something special. Letters are special because they are meant for the eyes of one person. We can be our true selves and say what we mean because that communication will be held in fantastical secret forever.
Listen, I’m not a wrestler. Heck, I’m not even a real journalist. I’m just a fan, and more than that I’m just a girl. I’m just a girl navigating this crazy past year and this ridiculous life in general as best she can. I do not claim to know the personal struggles of those I don’t share exactly with another. But I can appreciate them all the same. I can respect their feelings and emotions. More than any of that, I can say “thank you” to those that help show me the way.
When people move us, impact our lives positively without knowledge or intent, and lead by example without trying, they deserve to know. This special feature is simply me acknowledging someone who has helped me to smile this year. It’s a magical thing, that power, made more so when she herself has struggled to smile at times as well. Letters are by design a private thing, but today I write one to her for all to see. Because she deserves that honor.
When I was young, I went through some things – things that changed me to such a degree, I thought I might never recognize myself again. I lost my smile and for some time, I lived on without it. I didn’t understand it at the time, and I hated when my Grandad would say it, but he’d always place one of his weathered hands on my cheek and tell me, “what once was, will be again.”
I’d turn up my nose like the snotty depressed teenager I was and dismiss his words like he’d never uttered them in the first place. How could he know, right? How could he understand what I’d lost and claim to know that I’d ever be the same again? As much as I loved that man – more than I’ve ever loved anyone – I was bitter. It wasn’t until long after he was gone that I began to dissect what he had meant when he’d said that to me, time and time again.
He wasn’t an overly complicated man, so I believe that he only meant that as time continued on, so would I. He wasn’t trying to erase the past or dismiss what had happened and how it made me feel. He was trying to help me find my smile in his adorable – though annoying – way. I find peace in that interpretation today, and now I find myself using the same words that he so lovingly used on me, with one caveat, as I navigate this pandemic and all the uncertainty that goes along with it.
During the times when it has felt hopeless over the last twelve months, few things have kept me as emotionally connected to the world around me as professional wrestling and those who are so dedicated to keeping that escape alive for all of us. That extends to ALL of those involved, even those who have largely had their dreams put on hold for a variety of reasons, whether health related, distance driven, or more. In ways unique to each person, you’ve all kept that escape alive for so many of us hurting, even though you all have been hurting too.
I appreciate so much of who you are as a person, but what I raise above all else is your ability to be unapologetically yourself – emotions and dramatics be damned. What we see is what we get. I think so many people are afraid to present their true self, especially during times of struggle and uncertainty. Fearing judgement or mockery, we hide behind what we can and push down deep those feelings of inadequacy and strife. I’ve done this countless times in my life, and though it’s still something I work on, I still find myself dismissing things I should not.
During the pandemic, amid a year that was to be incredible, you have not hesitated to explain to all of us the difficulties faced and heartache felt. I won’t pretend to understand how tremendously hard it must have been and remains. I imagine “soul-crushing” might sum it up well enough. Yet, you continue to occupy this space. You continue to drive your career forward, even though the paths taken don’t resemble those intended. More than that, you continue to lift up your colleagues and friends as they do the same.
It’s funny, the things we hold onto to keep ourselves afloat as the waves attempt to drag us under water. Maybe “funny” isn’t the right word, but if there is one thing you’ve taught me throughout this ordeal if that it’s ok to laugh when things are spiraling completely out of control. For someone like me, who craves control of her life, this is a lesson I’ll always carry with me. For you to be able to continue to smile and laugh as the world burned around you, and promote the same in others, is nothing short of magical and speaks to your incredible character.
The phrase my Grandad used, the more I have thought about it over the years, no matter the meaning he intended, isn’t true, is it? What once was, in fact, can’t be. We cannot get those moments back. Nor can we live the moments taken from us through conditions out of our control, as unfair as it is. We can only focus on what’s in front of us.
So, I don’t focus much anymore on the “what once was.” I don’t dismiss it or discount its meaning in my life – I just look to the “will be” instead. I do that in part because of you. Your attitude, even on the days that aren’t as great – the ones when everything seems against you – has this ease and confidence within it. Your undeniable determination to live your dream makes me feel like anything is possible. That sounds very cliche, but it’s also very true. Sometimes the world shits on us – like in 2020 – but it’s how we get up and what we learn that matters. It’s clear that you are nowhere near done, and I can’t tell you how happy that makes me and SO MANY OTHERS!
Your shining personality endears us to you like very few others in the business. You’re honest, hard-working, hyper-focused, and as determined as any other, yet what bleeds through clear as day is that in addition to being the wrestler with a hardcore heart, you are also one of us. A fan. You love this shit.
From the highest of highs, like being super-kicked straight into a meme by Britt Baker, to working your ass off in an empty gym so the sweatiest human alive can put in the work, to the lowest of lows of being locked in Australia for a year while the world remained indecisive about its possible inevitable end – you’ve remained real and open with us. You haven’t needed to be, but you have been. Maybe it seems like an insignificant thing but know that it is anything but. By speaking on uncomfortable and unfortunate personal things, you’ve pierced the walls of many and helped them to feel better about things, if even for a moment.
I mean, I can’t know for sure, but even if there is no one else, you’ve done all of that for me!
No one can know when all of this is ending, but I know in my heart that when it does, the world is yours. The #SignShazza army hasn’t forgotten about you and will be ready and waiting to raise hell stateside when you’re able to travel again. Until then, we’re cheering just as loudly from across the ocean for our favorite crazy smile.
Professionally, I cannot wait for there to be a little less heartbreak and a lot more “HEARTBREAKcore” in professional wrestling once again. That’s the “will be” that I’ll be rooting for. Just maybe avoid AJ Gray this time…
Personally, I don’t think I can’t thank you enough for your example, as difficult as it has been. The ability to spread happiness is a gift in and of itself but doing so in the midst of such sadness and uncertainty is another thing entirely. There is nothing more beautiful in the world than a dream being brought to life, so I’ll be forever in your corner as you continue chasing yours. So will we all.
Thank you, Shazza. Here’s to your incredible “will be.” May it be everything you deserve and then some!