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That Which Does Not Kill Me

Do you ever just feel weird? I don’t mean that flutter in your gut that heralds indigestion; I’m talking about your state of being as a person. Do you ever think you’re the oddball in the crowd? If so, you might appreciate this sketch that wandered across my Facebook feed the other day:

art by EJ Landsman

art by EJ Landsman

Obviously, this artwork is talking about caffeine and the fact that some of us drink way too much of it for our own good (stop looking at me like that!). But around the Sanctuary offices many of us agreed that it also brought up old memories of feeling weird and isolated. You see, we’re pretty much a nerd crew over here, and as such, we know first-hand what it’s like to feel like you’re the only one of your kind. And don’t we all feel that way sometimes, self-proclaimed nerds or not?

Often times, the more we live our lives and get to know ourselves on levels physical, spiritual, and social, the more things we can list that make us “weirder and harder to relate to:” specific hobbies or interests, mental and physical illnesses, sexual orientation or gender identity, careers and chosen life paths, struggles and desires, trauma or loss, religion and politics. The more these pile up, the more it’s tempting to hide them so we can just fit in. And while this pattern of hiding our “quirks” can help us sort-of-maybe-kinda get along with others in everyday life, it can also leave us feeling lonely.

 

The irony is that it’s not until we begin accepting and letting out our weirdnesses that we can truly begin to find people we can relate to on a deeper level — people who are like us.

 

Another way to phrase that?

“That which does not kill me only makes me more interesting and visible to my tribe.”

You are welcome here.

Superheroes: Finding Your Own Super Powers

Superheroes… Many of us remember the feeling of believing we were the world’s greatest superhero. When we were kids, we would tie sheets around our shoulders and pretend to fly. We were saving Ken and Barbie from an incoming tornado or showing up just in time to save the Star Wars Legos from obliteration. But then, it seems, that overnight we began to lose a little bit of that and then a little bit more until one day there is hardly any left. Unless we make the decision, and I do mean decision, to be a hero again, it stays lost. Our hero stays locked deep inside of us while the villains we create gain speed and strength and power over our lives.

Not that long ago, as I was sitting with my uncle, I had an epiphany. I was mid-way through the beginning of a life changing journey – one that consisted of weight loss, attitude adjustment, and a needed change of personal scenery. He was asking me what had changed. It isn’t an easy thing to decide to beat your own villains but he could tell something was different. I replied to him…

“Ya know, I just came to this point in my life where I felt that I was constantly being let down, disappointed and hurt by the rest of the world and myself. I had to stop waiting on the world to love and respect and validate me. I needed to validate myself, I needed to save myself, I needed to be my own hero.”

Be my own hero? Wow – even now, thinking about it, I am impressed with how far I’ve come. This was it, it was the moment that I knew I had arrived at a completely different me.

It’s so easy for many of us, with our constant cycle of emotions, to get caught up on just one thing. Usually we seem to put forth our energy on the negative ones. The negative seems like the most important so we dwell and we let it fester until it has control over every other aspect; it subdues the feelings of hope and of peace.

Thinking of the negative is easier when you give it a face. For some, love is taken by an angry alcoholic mother who blames the child for taking away what could have been. For others, respect and validation are stolen by the girls in the hallway who felt the need to whisper and mock the girl who just couldn’t seem to afford or fit into the same clothes. And for others yet, safety is taken by a father who pounded his child with words or fists that he or she wasn’t good enough and would never be good enough because of that one day of striking out at the tee-ball game. There are plenty of reasons that we all learn to listen to these tiny little villains but there is only one reason that we decide to stop, and here it is:

The reason to stop listening is that just because the mother never achieved her dreams doesn’t mean her child can’t show her all the beauty that still exists by picking up where she left off and living her own dreams. Or that just because the other girls couldn’t see past their classmate’s outer appearance doesn’t mean that she can’t be the one to come out on top and lift others up no matter what their appearance is. Or that the little boy or girl can’t ever pick up a baseball bat again and teach his children how to be good sportsmen/women and try their best even if they fail.

We might not have an ideal and nurturing upbringing. We might not have a so-called perfect body. And there are some of us that have other talents besides baseball. The focus should not be that we can’t be good at everything, but instead,that we are all individually meant to be GREAT at something else.

I think that’s why I love superheroes so much. Batman is a great crime fighter, but he can’t fly. Spiderman is amazing at getting around the city, but everyone he loves is always in danger. The Hulk is incredible, but he is afraid to get close to people due to his own anger (not to mention it’s probably hard to find stretchy pants that fit just right!)

We are all superheroes, we are all great in one or many ways, even though we have flaws. But in our flaws we are still strong, still able, and still someone worth looking up to as long as we still show up and as long as we still try. All we have to do is stand tall, pull our shoulders back, and show the world that, even though something in our past may have brought us down, there’s no reason we can’t let our own super powers shine!

superhero blog post picture

 

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