Taking Off My Mask

Alana - Dallas, Texas
Entered on December 1, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
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“Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound” these are common criteria that one must possess to be labeled a superhero by the ultimate judge—DC© comics. But why are the powers I possess any less “super”? So what if I can’t breathe ice or withstand 1000 degrees of heat, I still possess powers comparable to those of our action heroes.

I believe in my inner superhero. I do believe I have powers, maybe they are not worthy of starring in a feature film, but I consider them to be powers nonetheless. My most treasured power is the ability to lift people up and motivate them to keep an optimistic outlook. No one has ever referred to me as “super-woman” or “spider-woman.” My daily uniform consists of standard collegiate attire—running-shorts and a t-shirt—not a tight spandex-suit that protects me from the vices surrounding our society. Regardless of names, attire, or lack of super human qualities, I have the ability to help others—yet I struggle when it comes to helping myself.

Recognizing the light at the end of a dark tunnel is my secret force that I draw upon to get through hard times. Yet, as an overly confident and perhaps naive college freshman, I thought I could do it all. But, I failed to realize how unprepared I was to cope with the transition into college-life. Anxiety attacks, self-doubt, and feeling constantly overwhelmed consumed me. When it came to my internal battles my powers diminished, all I could do was fake a smile when every muscle in my face wanted to frown. As an eighteen year-old alone in a large university, the consecutive road bumps I faced seemed insurmountable. Especially the time when I let my nemesis—calculus—get the best of me. I could not comprehend the course material despite my best efforts—I decided to drop the class. I felt like a failure. I felt defeated; my demon, my fear of failure, had conquered me.

It took time, but I started to see the light, I realized that failure is a natural human characteristic and afflicts even the greatest of superheroes. But I had to put fear aside. Fear of failure was not an option! I had to put things into perspective: one math course in the history of my past academic success meant practically nothing, it meant to me what the derivative of a constant is—zero!

But zero, nothing, is how I felt, until my inner superhero surfaced. I finally used my secret forces to help myself. I lifted myself up after I had fallen. Rather than dwell on my own self-pity, I rebounded and refocused my energies. I faced my fear of failure head on—with no magic mask hiding my identity. I was no longer ashamed. My inner superhero rescued me. I believe in myself now more than ever. I believe in my inner superhero.