When I Don't Feel Like A Superhero
A couple of weeks ago I saw the new Wonder Woman movie. I’m in the middle of writing a trilogy about a superhero kind of girl, so I thought it would be good inspiration, and it did not disappoint. Corny as it is to admit, I sat completely enthralled, as new and unfamiliar images flashed before my eyes. The whole movie was about a girl who was so powerful that she couldn’t be stopped. She was a warrior. She was epic. And she looked fantastic. It was totally awesome.
It’s no secret that, as girls, we rarely get to witness this kind of imagery. And now that I’m a mom, I feel like I see it even less. I’ve been thinking about that movie ever since, because it displayed a power and fearlessness that I crave. I want to be that girl, and I often feel like she’s hiding somewhere deep inside me, trying to get out.
This week my three-year-old daughter started swimming lessons, and it’s been rough to say the least. Today in class, each parent had to throw their child in the water and let them swim back to the side on their own. Awful, right? So, counter-intuitive as it was, I did my deed, and watched in horror as my precious girl sank to the bottom of the pool like a sack of lead. Silent and still as a ghost, she held her tiny arms outstretched towards the sky, as if waiting for me to rescue her.
Out of instinct, I knelt down to help her, but the swim instructor held me back and scolded me like a child. In that moment, I wanted my superhero powers. I wanted to don my sparkly jumpsuit and rise like a fireball straight into the air, in order to vanquish her with my own scolding powers: “You will show me kindness, madam. Do you not know that this is the stuff of my nightmares? Now be silent!”
But I did no such thing. I held my tongue. I watched my daughter slowly rise to the surface, and I held back my tears.
It’s hard to remember that superhero stories are just that- stories. Yet they speak to a deep-rooted need and desire within me to rise above the pain and chaos of life in order to feel some sense of control over the world around me.
The truth is that I am never going to be able to blow up a city block by crossing my forearms and thinking really hard. And while I would love to be able to wield a sword and ride madly into battle on a gallant, white horse, what I’d really like is the power to conquer my fears- to experience, even for a moment, a life without fear. To strut onto the battlefield of my own life and vanquish my obstacles and enemies in the blink of an eye. To be known, admired, and maybe even a little bit exalted.
I don’t know the answer to this quandary, but I do want to say it out loud. I want to reach out to all the other almost-superheroes out there and do a mini hero huddle in order to remind ourselves that life is still an epic battle. It is a tale of the utmost importance, and we are its magnanimous protagonsists.
The best and most memorable stories are fraught with troubles, and the very best heroes are those we can relate to, the ones whose flesh and blood make them tangible and real. They reflect our own vulnerable humanity back to us, and remind us that our own strength lies dormant inside us. In these glorious stories, the greatest beauty lies in the struggle, and the sweetest victory is costly and hard-won.
So here’s my own little hero salute. We can do this. We are doing this. And our stories matter.