Dear Ms. Rousey,
I just watched a clip of your interview with Ellen DeGeneres on Ellentube.com. I read about your upset in the news and about how you thought about killing yourself after you lost your fight against Holly Holm. After what I read, I was compelled to watch your interview myself and to write you this letter.
In your interview with Ellen you said that when you lost the fight, you sat in the corner in the medical room and asked yourself “What am I anymore if I am not this?” “I’m nothing,” you said. “What do I do anymore?” Now granted, you were literally in the heat of the moment, and your clearly have gotten yourself beautifully back on your own track since.
The reason I am writing to you is because while I was compelled to watch your interview, I am more compelled to tell you that you are so much more than ‘nothing.’ And no, it’s not because of all that you have accomplished thus far in your life. I do not even know of those accomplishments, and I am sure many people in your life and in the world can rattle all of those off for you. In fact, I wonder that if everyone had rattled all of those accomplishments off to you when you were feeling at your lowest, if it would have mattered to you at all, and whether or not you would believe them anyway.
The reason I wonder about this is because you have expressed so clearly what one’s experience is when one defines themselves solely by their accomplishments, or wins, or losses. I believe this approach to definition of self is dangerous, and you have proven why. Because when you do, and you lose, you feel like nothing.
Defining ourselves by what we do or don’t do, or by what we accomplish or do not accomplish, limits who we are. We limit ourselves when we define ourselves and think highly of ourselves only if and when we do something that we or others see as good or even great. We limit ourselves because if and when we do not accomplish that good or great thing, we wonder to ourselves: ‘Am I still amazing? Am I still worthy? Am I still loved?’ The hit we experience when we lose, or get dumped, or get fired, or fail, or worse, can shatter us to pieces when we limit ourselves to defining ourselves in this way. You would do better for your incredible human self if you defined yourself not by what you are (or are not), but by who you are, instead.
Who you are are all of the incredible qualities and values that have led, guided you, and motivated you to accomplish all that you have. Without knowing much about you, watching your interview on Ellen, it is clear to me that you are brave, honest, real, and sincere. You are courageous, committed, determined, hard-working, and incredibly strong. You are a fighter (and not just in the ring, I presume.) These are all the qualities I see in you without ever having met you. You probably have way many more to add to this list.
It is your qualities that have helped you get to where you are; to accomplish your dreams, to build the relationships you have, to get up when you are down (even when you have millions of eyes on you), to be the incredible role model that you are, to express yourself so honestly on Ellen and to say this: “Maybe I am still undefeated because being undefeated is a choice. Everybody has losses in their life, but I choose to be undefeated.”
Whether you win or lose, rise or fall, your qualities and your values are the things that can never be taken away or stripped from you. You get to choose how you express and manifest these qualities in the world. These are the things that really make you who you are. They are you, no matter what you do (or don’t do.) Defining yourself in this way will put you on more solid ground so that the next time you fall (if you fall), sure it might hurt, but you will not shatter into pieces or wonder what you are. You will know who you are, and you will also know that not anybody, nor anything, can ever, take that away from you. Ever.
In support, admiration, and in awe of all that you are,