Why Your Superpowers Make You Feel Weird and Rudolph is a Badass
The trick to finding your superpowers is to own what makes you unique. There’s no one else like you. You don’t have to try to be different. You already are. The problem is, sometimes your superpowers feel more like burdens than gifts. So you don’t acknowledge them or try to hide them.
This time of year many of us love to watch the classic 1964 TV special “Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” Do you remember how the other reindeer tease Rudolph mercilessly for having a bright red nose? He feels like he doesn’t belong.
Eventually, Rudolph ends up on the island of misfit toys. This sanctuary of unwanted presents is home to such rejects as a Charlie-in-the-box, a polka-dotted elephant, a bird that swims instead of flies, a cowboy who rides an ostrich, a train with square wheels, and a squirt gun that shoots jelly. If these fabulous creatures were ever to take a creativity workshop from me, I’d instantly give them each an A+ for originality and inventiveness. Their superpowers are marvelous! Rudolph finally fits right in.
But as we all know, that’s not where the story ends. The plot twist happens toward the end of Johnny Marks‘ popular Christmas song.
Then one foggy Christmas Eve, Santa came to say, Rudolph with your nose so bright, won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?
Once Santa realizes that Rudolph’s superpower can help him weather the storm, Rudolph is able to own his unique gift and shine his crazy light out into the world. He becomes a beloved leader.
What about you? Have you ever felt like you don’t belong? Were you ever made fun of or minimized for doing something you loved that didn’t fit in with what others value?
I’d also give you an A+ for being YOU. Right now. Just the way you are. Period. Sure, you could always improve. But the most important thing you can do to stay happy and centered, no matter what happens, is to accept yourself exactly the way you are.
What’s wrong with a squirt gun that shoots jelly? Or a bird that swims? Or an ostrich-riding cowboy? NOTHING. It’s only when we compare these toys to what we think they SHOULD do that they seem defective.
In the same way, people sometimes measure you up against the you they think you should be, so it’s no wonder you come up short. It’s not a reflection on the real you. Some folks will love you just the way you are; some won’t. You don’t need to change a thing. Just be who you are.
I’ve noticed that most people who take my workshops to find their true gifts often feel like they’re different somehow. They tell me that other people seem to be happier with their jobs, their marriages, or their lives than they are. Once they begin to understand that what makes them different makes them special, they insist there must be a hitch.
There always seems to be a man sitting by the window who booms resolutely, “I can’t just run off and do what I please. That’s being irresponsible.”
“How will I be able to pay my bills if I follow my heart?” another participant calls from the back of the room.
“My husband will leave me if I do what I really want,” a fidgety lady moans, eyeing the door for a quick getaway.
I’m not surprised by their hesitation. Even Batman was frightened of bats at first. My students worry that being one’s true self will lead to disaster somehow. But I have found quite the opposite is true. When these same doubtful workshop participants found the audacity to own their superpowers and answer their true callings, they thrived in their new lives.
For example, “Lauren,” a bored technical writer, often wore bunny slippers to class. It was clear she wasn’t your typical Silicon Valley worker bee. She told us she scribbled ideas for movies in the margins of her tech manuals. I encouraged Lauren to focus on those marginalized writings. A year later she wrote, directed, and produced an internationally-distributed film. Now Lauren’s flourishing in the entertainment industry.
Take a deep breath and think about your life for a moment. Is your career, social circle, town, or lifestyle a great fit for you? If not, why not? Perhaps you’re overqualified for your job, or your friends don’t share your core values, or you’re bored living in the suburbs, or you crammed your schedule full of things you don’t enjoy doing. How are you a misfit in your own life?
Copying someone else and doing what you’re told to do will take you off course. Listening to your inner wisdom and following your heart will put you back on it. Honor your individuality and you will find your own life path to follow.
According to Martha Graham, “There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. If you block it, it will never exist.” Let that sink in for a moment.
What special talents, skills, and interests make you different? What gift would the world miss out on if you blocked it?
Rudolph is less than thrilled that he has a shiny red nose until he grasps how he can use his light to lead Santa’s sleigh. Lauren found her true calling in the entertainment industry instead of high tech. My mother and colleagues told me I was crazy to leave my job as a professor, but after my debut CD produced a top 10 hit in South Africa (the same year Nelson Mandela was elected president) they changed their minds.
Do you have a heartfelt hobby or meaningful dream on the back burner that’s heating up? That’s your superpower trying to get your attention. It’s time to embrace your inner weirdo and own your power.