Be your own superhero

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about superheroes.

I love going to see movies about superheroes, not only because they usually have awesome action and lots of humor, but because they tell the kind of story that I enjoy: an underdog that gets a second chance and uses it to defend those who can’t defend themselves.

It’s the kind of story that makes me wonder — while we can’t all be bitten by radioactive spiders or crash land on Earth from another planet — if we can’t all be our own superheroes.

What really makes a superhero?

Honestly, the first thing I think of when I picture a superhero is their physical attributes. They’re fast, acrobatic and almost always super strong. You would be very hard-pressed to find many superheroes that don’t claim super strength as a power.

After all, how can you lift cars or stop falling buildings without it?

Maybe there aren’t many of us that could match a superhero in the physical department, but strength is about more than just lifting heavy things. To me, being strong can mean a lot of things. It means we are determined, sure of ourselves and independent.

I will be the first to admit that I take a lot of things for granted. I don’t really know how to work our washer, and making any kind of food other than PB&J or pizza is a challenge. Clearly, there are a few things that I still need to learn.

But I think being our own superheroes is just as much about being able to take care of ourselves as it is about taking care of others. After all, how can we be expected to help others if we can’t even help ourselves?

So maybe being a superhero means that we need to take some responsibility and become a little self-reliant. Once we’ve done that, we can think about taking care of other people.

The whole point of superheroes is that they are defenders of the weak. They protect the underdog and defend the defenseless. They chase down thieves and stop bank robberies. They help people without expecting gratitude or repayment.

We can do the same in smaller ways for people that we meet everyday.

It could be as simple as holding a door or picking up what someone dropped. The point is that we’re taking care of each other, without expecting a “thank you.” By doing what we can, we’re doing exactly what a superhero would do.

Lastly, a superhero is someone that we look up to. They’re role models and always seem to do the right thing. I think the most important thing about being your own superhero is that you’re being somebody that you would look up to and the person that others would want to emulate.

Be the person that would make you proud of yourself.
As much as I wish there were such a thing as superpowers and superheroes in real life, I don’t think I’ll really ever see any spandex-clad superhumans swinging through cities.

However, that doesn’t mean that we can’t embody some of what superheroes offer us.
We can be strong and helpful, protectors and defenders.

The truth is, we don’t need Spider-Man or Superman to save us. Because we can all be superheroes for ourselves and each other.

Hannah Sloan is an 11th grader near Peoria, Ill. Her father, Doug, grew up in Jefferson where her grandparents, Lee and Sheri Sloan, still reside. She has always loved writing and has written a column in her hometown newspaper since seventh grade.

Reprinted from Hagel Publications Inc./Courier Newspapers

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