I believe in superpowers. In fact, I’m pretty sure I have one. This sounds like something a 6-year-old would say to explain the pillow case safety-pinned to his shoulders, but my superpower is not of your average-variety Marvel comics kind.
My superpower was first identified by a therapist to help me reframe in my own mind a past event that still affects me today. Although initially doubtful, the idea grew on me, and I set out to determine what constitutes a superpower. After analyzing many a fictional superhero, I developed a series of tests for defining “Superdom”.
Test One for Superdom: A superpower is an ability that develops due to an unpredictable and often unexplained event. Spiderman’s defining event was simply a spider bite. Mine was little different: when I was ten years old, I was a victim—or, shall we say, I became a survivor—of kidnapping and sexual assault. Although many pretty easily-anticipated challenges followed that traumatic event, I did not anticipate the development of my superpower: a super-sensitive creep-o-meter.
Test Two for Superdom: Most superpowers are typical abilities that are simply enhanced. My superpower passes this test, as well. The average person possesses a creep-o-meter; it’s that creepy crawly feeling that warns you when you’re in a potentially dangerous situation. My creep-o-meter, like that of many victims of sexual assault, is super-sensitive — some might say overly sensitive, but I disagree. Whether it takes two hours or two years for the truth to come out, my superpower has shown itself to be about 90% accurate, even if I don’t believe it at first.
Test Three for Superdom: A superpower is an ability that is unwanted, at least initially anyway. Sometime near the beginning of Superdom, most superheroes want to dump their superpower because it interferes with their lives. It makes them different. I think victims of sexual assault often doubt their own perceptions of danger for those same reasons. I, too, used to try to ignore my intuition’s warnings because I was afraid of being dismissed by friends as paranoid. I, too, used to fear being different. However, I now believe that my super-sensitive creep-o-meter comes from very normal places: the human instinct for survival and our ability to learn from our experiences. My acceptance of my ability began when I realized that my superpower passes Test Four for Superdom: A superpower is an ability that can be used for good. A super-sensitive creep-o-meter, while a little odd, is an excellent tool to have around.
Yes, I believe in superpowers. We all have them, they are customized to the individual based on past experiences; they’re part of each of us and make us stronger—not by any physical means—but in our character. I cannot foresee nor prevent all of the bad things that will happen in my life, but I believe that I choose how to interpret the lessons—and the powers—that those experiences leave behind. We all have superpowers. What’s yours?
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