Your Superpowers Choose You
“There is no passion to be found in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” ~ Nelson Mandela
One of the best ways to discover your superpower is to notice what fills you with passion and curiosity—not your parents, teachers, or friends—but YOU. But be willing to experiment to find it. Your superpower isn’t always what you think it will be.
My client “Jane” was a burned-out Fortune 500 executive who longed for a creative outlet after her workday ended to balance out her life. She assumed it would be writing because her father was an author, but after struggling for over a year she realized that she didn’t have a way with words. She felt lost after that for some time but I encouraged her to hang in there and try new things. One day during a walk she got an intuition to buy charcoal pencils and a sketching pad. After drawing for a few weeks she eventually discovered that painting was her true passion.
We often don’t know what our superpowers are because they choose us—we don’t choose them. This is certainly true for my favorite superhero Buffy Summers played by Sarah Michelle Geller in the TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer, created by Joss Whedon. You may be thinking, “Buffy? Really? Hold on. Hear me out. According to David Bianculli’s book The Platinum Age of Television, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the most-studied TV show in history, written about and pored over even more than The Sopranos or The Wire or Breaking Bad.”
Buffy transformed from a vacuous high-school beauty with a killer fashion sense to a vampire slayer with impressive fighting techniques and self-healing abilities. Personally, this 5 foot 4-inch tall would-be prom queen got my attention because she had to give up a normal life to fulfill her higher purpose to protect the world from demons. All she really wanted to do was to be a cheerleader and date cute boys.
Even though Buffy appears small and frail, she’s amazingly powerful, much like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz who killed not one, but two, wicked witches during her short stay in Oz. I dig little girls who come into their own and kick serious ass to help make the world a better place. I like to think of myself as a member of that tribe.
My origin story is similar to Buffy’s. I, too, had dirty-blond hair and a slim athletic build and stood about 5 feet tall. Only I suffered from child abuse. Shadowy figures in my home sucked me dry and blocked my light. I was a cheerleader in high school battling energy vampires at night and on weekends. I cannot tell you how much I yearned to be a regular girl, too.
When I tried out for Varsity cheerleading during my sophomore year, I made up my own cheer, sewed my own outfit, and mastered the toe touch split jump because I so desperately wanted to be a part of something positive and uplifting. I made the squad, but I only cheered for two years before I began drowning in the toxic wasteland at home and had to graduate a year early to save myself.
I felt a calling to go into psychology, and later songwriting, to work out my demons and shed light on other people’s stuck places, too. Little did I know that I would later combine psychology and music to help people blast through their blocks and discover their superpowers. It’s not the mission I would have given myself, but it’s my passion purpose now and I absolutely love doing it.
That brings me to another hero of mine in real life. Brené Brown is a self-described “fifth-generation Texan” who grew up believing that being vulnerable makes you weak. She is now the leading shame and vulnerability expert in the world. She gave a viral TED talk on the power of vulnerability describing how her research forced her to accept her own vulnerability. A few years later she gave a second TED talk on listening to shame sharing how she survived the vicious put-downs that came after her first talk. In both cases, she won the audience over with her humor and authenticity, two of her many superpowers.
Her book The Gifts of Imperfection is a New York Times bestseller which has sold more than two million copies. Brown presents research findings based on the people she’s interviewed, using their stories to show us how to redefine “imperfection,” build self-esteem, and live wholeheartedly. She’s gone on to produce a string of bestselling books such as Daring Greatly and Dare to Lead.
Brené says, “If you trade your authenticity for safety, you may experience the following: anxiety, depression, eating disorders, addiction, rage, blame, resentment, and inexplicable grief.” This wreaks all kinds of havoc with your relationships, career, finances, health, and well-being. That’s probably why you’re reading this blog right now.
Let’s nip this in the bud and put you on a path that resonates with who you really are, shall we?
Often the very qualities you view as your flaws are actually your greatest gifts.
Dig deep. What fills you with curiosity? What do you love to read about, talk about, dream about? What’s your favorite hobby? Even if no one around you is doing it, too, it matters. Play with it and see what happens. The sooner you embrace your superpower, the sooner you will find a tribe who supports you, and the happier and more powerful you will be.