Learning the skills to use a handgun effectively and safely is a very useful and worthwhile pursuit, and a .22 is a fine way to do it. There are many good options available in revolvers and semiautos, at prices ranging from a couple of hundred dollars to
As far as "wimpy" goes it depends on what you are using it for; for small game hunting, plinking, and target shooting you're probably good to go; for defense against 2 or 4 legged predators, you're likely to want a little more gun. There have been many beasts of both varieties stopped with a .22, but it is not the first choice of most able bodied folks. The discussion of what caliber is needed for this is ongoing.
You can read for hours on this forum many threads asking what the minimum is. Many of us would recommend at least .380 in a semiauto, and .38 special in a revolver, although some would find these way too "wimpy". For something that has a lot of power and makes a manly bark, the .357 magnum is a good starting point that will impress your macho friends. It will also be much more expensive and harder to shoot well. Good luck, and welcome to the forum.