Look—up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s—the last person in the world you would have suspected of being a super hero.
Just who is this amazing being? Who lies behind this hero’s mysterious secret identity? You can answer that question by looking in the mirror, says Emily V. Gordon, author of Super You: Release Your Inner Super Hero (Seal Press; September 29, 2015).
In the book, Gordon, a writer, producer, and former couples and family therapist (but no relation to Commissioner James Gordon), shows readers how to reach their full heroic potential. And no, that doesn’t mean that we’ll be foiling bank robberies or fighting off hordes of invading aliens. It means that readers will learn how to embrace their origins, flaws, and mistakes and strive every day to stand up for what they believe in. The book examines comic book tropes to help readers find their own “superpowers,” unique abilities, special tools, and personal kryptonite, thereby transforming into the most kick-ass versions of themselves.
“My own personal Bat Signal clicked on when I was in college,” Gordon writes. (“The Bat Signal, by the way, is how residents of Gotham call Batman,” she explains. “The Bat Signal tells Batman he’s needed, and serves to remind him to be…Batman. It also tells ne’er-do-wells they’d better run.”)
“I was in between identity crises, overweight, unsure of how to deal with any of my emotions and generally unhappy with myself in a myriad of ways,” she writes. One night, she found herself unable to overcome her reluctance to dance at a nightclub, even though dancing was something she loved.
“I started thinking: Am I living the life I want to live . . . is this how I pictured my life when I was a little kid yearning for the awesomeness of being an adult? And if not, why not? Am I even allowed to live the life I want to live? Whose permission would I need to live it?
“That tiny question,” she writes, “clicked on a little light, far away and hard to see, that gave me something to squint at, off in the distance, and move toward. In short, it gave me a mission. My mission was to become a girl who had the confidence to dance in public. If I were Bruce Wayne, she’d be my Batman. She’d be the version of me not so weighed down by my own ‘stuff.’ She’d be my superhero, but only to me. I started slowly creeping toward that tiny mission as if were my own personal Bat Signal.”
Gordon writes that when we each become our own personal superhero, we find a way to unlock our potential while dealing with our personal shortcomings. “Because that’s what superheroes have: a specific set of skills, a specific identity, clearly identified weaknesses that they’ve learned to deal with, and the choice, every single day, to go out and fight crime,” she writes. “Even a cursory look at a few popular super heroes show how neatly they break down into these basic categories.”
In the book, Gordon writes about identities and who we chose to be, the missions we chose to accept in our lives, the tools each of us carries, our own unique super powers and weaknesses, the “armor” we may be hiding behind and the origin stories we construct. “Once we’re done with all that,” she writes, “it’ll be time for you to spin off into the world as a bold, badass super hero who continues to work on herself while being a badass.”
And Gordon says that these are the super-heroic concepts we can carry with us throughout the entire run of our amazing, pulse-pounding, four-color story. “I hope that you accept the person you are, with her strengths and weaknesses, and that you learn not to fret about the qualities you don’t have,” she writes. “I hope you continue to stretch and grow and look towards your Bat Signal until you’ve reached it—and then I hope you set yourself a new Bat Signal. I hope you stay occupied with yourself, in the loveliest of ways, until you are old and gray and still kicking ass.”