By UFC fighter, proud mother and REORG supporter Michelle Waterson-Gomez
On the surface of it fighting is all about being tough. And of course this is true – as a fighter you have to minimise your weaknesses, maximise your skill levels and do whatever you can within the rules to overcome your opponent.
But fighters are also human beings, and everyone is vulnerable. It is just a question of what you do with that vulnerability. You either let it defeat you, or you use it as a tool to improve.
Sometimes people raise their eyebrows when they find out that my daughter comes to see me fight. She is 11 now and has been along for the ride even before she knew about it. My first fight back after she was born I was still breastfeeding, so she needed her mom nearby. And ever since then, apart from Covid, she’s been to every fight.
It can be tough, of course. I’ve had fights that didn’t go my way, and sometimes I’ve been pretty bashed up afterwards. But children learn more from our actions than from the things we tell them. So it’s important for her to see all sides of my journey. Not just the good, but the bad and the ugly side too.
In life you experience more failure than success. So if I just told her that life was like a Disney movie where everything goes your way, that would just give her a false sense of confidence. It’s important for her to see me dust myself off and carry on.
Accepting your vulnerability is an important part of being able to move past adversity. You get strength from realising you can carry on whatever bad stuff is thrown at you. The strongest people I know are not like that because they don’t have any weaknesses, they are like that because they accept how they are and just keep trucking forward.
It is also good to accept the importance of a supportive community around us. I’ve been at Jackson Wink since the start of my career and it is like a second family. It’s a sanctuary for me, whenever I’m having a bad day and don’t want to talk to anyone, I can just go and hang out and train and be around cool people that have my back.
This is why the work REORG is doing stood out to me. Everyone needs that place to go where they can be with like-minded people who are going to help keep you healthy and on track.
We should look at weakness as if it were a challenge to be overcome because then it gives the individual power to take control of their own thoughts. And the power becomes amplified when you have a team around you.
Military guys are probably like most fighters, proud and not too willing to show a vulnerable side. But we all need help sometimes, and I am fully behind you guys getting the message out that not only is it okay to show weakness, it is part of what makes us human. No matter how tough you are.
Michelle was talking to Richard Holt.