When I was growing up, I loved watching “Bewitched” reruns. I was convinced if I just practiced I could tap into my own magical powers. For what seemed like hours, I practiced my nose twitching skills hoping for some kind of results. Alas, the soap in the dish never moved. My room was never spotless when I returned to it. When it was clear my nose held no power, I moved on to reading minds. I know what you’re thinking – such a silly girl. Maybe not so silly since I knew what you were thinking just then. Anyhow, after realizing mind-reading wasn’t one of my powers, I moved on to flying. I won’t go into all of the details but by the time I was done, I ruined a couple of umbrellas, fell out of a couple of trees, twisted an ankle or two, and ripped up a good pair of jeans. Miraculously, I never broke any bones. I think that is because I was never foolish enough to try and jump off of the roof of my house. That would be crazy! I’m was (and still am) too afraid of heights to do that. That realization along with my failures cemented the fact that flying was just not my thing. I kept trying and trying different things in hope of tapping into any dormant powers. Then something truly horrible happened – I hit puberty. Even worse? I started to care what people thought of me.
I forgot all about my undiscovered powers. My new quest was to try to fit in. As the third of four children, I felt like the oddball. It didn’t matter if it was true – I mean I did try to fly – it made me feel very unsure of myself. Everyone in my family was athletic or at least coordinated. I’ve been hopelessly awkward from the word go. I tried basketball, softball, volleyball, and track. How did I do you ask? Please view this painfully accurate portrayal:
Any other questions? I’d like to say that by the time I hit high school I figured things out, but I’d be lying. Matter of fact, I still haven’t quite figured myself out, but I’m getting to the point where I’m okay with that.
So what about my special powers? Well, it’s only been in the past 10ish years that I’ve started thinking about all of that again. I’ve refreshed my love of super heroes and magical beings. I love Harry Potter, Lord of The Rings, basically anything magical and mythical. As adult as I may be, I guess my desire to tap into any undiscovered powers hasn’t died. My quest just changed a little to find a hero to look up to. The main reason? I have two daughters. From the time they were very young, I have wanted them to have an example to emulate. There had to be someone out there.
About a year ago, I had the opportunity to ask author Deborah Harkness some questions regarding her book Discovery of Witches. We were discussing strong female role models and she stated that we all are strong and powerful we just haven’t realized it yet. She went on to say, “Often, though, [we] are afraid of [our] own power and try to be invisible. We all do that. Owning your own power is a scary thing.” ¹ Wait. What?
It was an amazing conversation and we discussed the idea of being afraid of ourselves. She finished her comments to me saying, “We all have power. But most of us are frightened to use it and own it. Find yours. It’s there. And it won’t look like anyone else’s power. It’s all–and only–for you!”¹ I was almost in tears. Oh how I wish my 12 year old self could have had that conversation. It’s not that she was telling me that I may have the power to fly, read minds, or be able to shoot laser beams (yeah…I forgot to mention that one). It made me realize that we discount ourselves when we try to be like someone else.
This past April a friend of mine shared a conversation she overheard between her daughter and a classmate. The classmate asked her daughter who her favorite superhero was. Her daughter’s response was (and still is) the best thing I’ve read all year: “Myself.”
At 10, “B” (we need to protect her secret identity) already knows what I still am trying to work out at 40. WE ARE OUR OWN SUPER HEROES. That is the attitude we need to be teaching our children and more specifically to our daughters, granddaughters, and nieces. I had a conversation with a seven year old girl about who could get Thor’s hammer if he died or retired. (Hey…it was a very serious conversation.) She told me I couldn’t have Thor’s hammer because I was a girl. I, of course, cleared that misconception. Girls all around us don’t realize how powerful they are. Women all around us have given up because they don’t think they are as powerful as someone else. Stop comparing yourself to someone else. Stop trying to be a “new” version of someone else. That’s not how it works!!!
Let me repeat Ms. Harkness’s words:
“We all have power. But most of us are frightened to use it and own it. Find yours. It’s there. And it won’t look like anyone else’s power. It’s all–and only–for you!”¹
We are all so uniquely powerful. Why are we so afraid to be different? No little girl should ever be told she can’t do something because it’s just for boys. No woman should ever be ashamed of “just being a mother” or being career woman. Your power doesn’t look like anyone else’s.
I want to issue a challenge for us all. You are your own superhero – find your powers. I’m still working on mine. I still can’t fly but that’s okay. I’m doing my best to help my girls realize theirs. Don’t be afraid to try. Don’t be afraid to be different. Don’t be afraid to be a girl. And most importantly, please remember that “ you’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” ²
¹ Harkness, Deborah. “I’m Deborah Harkness, Author of the #1 Bestselling ALL SOULS TRILOGY and Professor of the History of Science. AMA!” Reddit, 2015, http://www.reddit.com/r/books/comments/396671/im_deborah_harkness_author_of_the_1_bestselling/cs0w1r9/?context=3.
² Pooh’s Grand Adventure: The Search for Christopher Robin , Karl Guers, director. Walt Disney, 1997.