Possessing an extraordinary talent or ability is something we marvel at when we see it in others and crave to find within ourselves. Fantasies spark our free-flowing imaginations, and we often wish that we could fly, shape-shift or read people’s minds, so that we ourselves can transcend and leave the rest of the mere mortals behind, grounded by mediocrity . Whenever I was asked the question, I’d always pick ‘super speed’ as my ability of choice because I liked the idea of having more free time to do whatever I wanted, given that I’d be able to get more work done and take care of any vigilante crime-fighting commitments more efficiently.
While fantasies are fun and exciting, I started thinking about which ability I’d choose to carry in my arsenal if it would actually help me practically in day-to-day life. Quite a boring spin on what is typically supposed to be a creative task I know, but there are genuinely a lot of superheroes in our ‘normal’ lives that we don’t fully appreciate. People that we aspire to be because they’re incredibly smart, loyal, athletic or selfless dominate our culture as timeless bastions of human greatness, and whilst we might not be able to spearhead civil rights movements or the save the planet from human destruction in this current moment, maybe there are superpowers that we can adopt for ourselves to make us all a little bit more extraordinary.
I had a long think. There are many attractive qualities: courage, kindness, resilience, humbleness, all of which would have a positive impact on both ourselves and others around us if mastered. But I’ve figured out that my greatest superpower, if developed and honed, would be the ability to not judge myself.
This doesn’t mean not holding myself accountable when mistakes have been made or to be unapologetically reckless in the way that I conduct myself, nor does it mean to become delusional upon the delivery of advice or constructive criticism, but simply not to overjudge myself. Observation has shown me that many people are quick to tear themselves down unprovoked, and I often wonder, “Why are you so hard on yourself? Everyone else, to your face or in private, will be tearing you down for you. So why choose to bring that on yourself?” And this isn’t a thought I’ve had as a way of pity or looking down on someone, but rather questioning their perception of reality, in particular, failure. Failure is neither final or fatal, and whilst it is important to acknowledge it when it knocks on your door, overjudging yourself and allowing it to dampen your spirit does more harm than good.
It’s easier said than done, of course. We all want to be successful and receive validation for it, and we are all fearful of setbacks. Anything that cuts off that dopamine release when we realise that we are making strides towards our goal is interpreted as a direct attack on our character, and we naturally fight back by judging what we are lacking in ourselves, superficially or materialistically, and eventually, we feel that setback was deserved because of our own shortcomings.
I feel that this mindset fails to recognise the optimism that tends to be a motivator in real life post a setback, and that by choosing to be the executors of our own confidence, we thereby choose mediocrity , and are restricting our potential to one day have the superpowers that we have frequently fantasised about.