I've been wrestling with feeling special.
It's not that I don't feel special enough. To the contrary, I can't figure out why someone so special like me hasn't had certain opportunities just handed to him. (Yes I know how ridiculous that sounds; but I also know many of you can relate to feeling this way and this blog is about being honest, so let's talk about it).
I have embraced the moniker "Token" for a very long time. If you're unfamiliar with why I call myself that, allow me to show instead of tell:
Being a Token is not about ethnicity or sexual orientation for me. It's an attitude. I zag when everyone expects me to be a stereotypical zigger.
Here's some stone cold truth though: being special is not that special. In a world where everyone is a unicorn, who can really appreciate the magic?
The WWE roster is filled to the brim with dudes and dudettes who are physical freaks of nature, impressive acrobats, and/or downright badasses but somehow - despite having all the tools - have still had mediocre careers. The most poignant example of this too-much-smoke-not-enough-fire lifestyle right now is the man known as Apollo Crews.
This man is a work of art, a physical specimen worth studying. He has an impressive moveset, can fly around the ring like a man 100lbs. lighter yet has the power of a man 100lbs. heavier. Apollo has a habit of yelling out "too easy" as he's carving up his opponents in the ring and, to his credit, that's exactly how he makes this brutal ballet look.
Apollo has the look of a major factor, but he's not. It has not been "too easy" for him; in fact, it's been anything but easy to get -- and keep -- the attention of the WWE Universe. AC's got no sustainable momentum despite always putting on a strong performance. Now when I hear his music I automatically assume Crews is going to lose.
Despite having all the tools, I don't see Apollo's "it factor" -- that special thing that cuts through the noise of an overly stacked roster. And the truth is, Apollo can continue to make a nice living for himself and his family without ever moving up on the card or finding himself at the center of a compelling storyline, all while watching performers with half his physical tools main event major pay-per-views.
The idea that being the most talented or capable performer should automatically vault you to the top spot is a fantasy, one that I've been wrestling with for a long time as a comedian. Having the funniest jokes or the most unique backstory are great assets. But translating those things into sustainable success, cutting through the noise of an overly saturated field of funny people requires more than this.
Being the main event requires consistent effort. It demands that I be willing to do things counter to my instincts or habits, to play against expectations, to demand the spotlight, to look at the sheeple just going with the flow and say, "Zigger please!"
You too can steal victory from the hands of defeat by internalizing the hard lessons that come with seeming losses, by not being afraid to ask for help, by growing new skills, and embracing doing things you have not done before.
Apollo Crews might have to start taking matters into his own hands, doing a little business for himself if he wants people to pay attention to him. It's time for him to "pull a Miz" and go off on somebody. Instead of smiling, looking happy just to be there, he needs to put his passion so much in our face that we can taste it.
Unfortunately for Apollo, wrestling is predetermined. Fortunately for us, life is not. Our opportunities are in our hands. If whomever the Vince McMahon in your life is doesn't recognize your value, that doesn't mean you can't be a champion. Create your own lane. Make content. Earn people's attention. Don't let bitterness or disappointment that "it" hasn't happened yet prevent you from making it happen. Nothing worth having is ever "too easy" but if you avoid hanging out with ziggers and lead with your passion, your place at the top of the card will be undeniable.