Just over a week ago we lost a legend. Stan Lee’s influence on the world has been nothing short of amazing. As a kid I dreamed of being able to fly like the Human Torch, read minds like Professor X, heal like Wolverine, be as strong as the Hulk, teleport like Nightcrawler, and be able to climb like Spider-Man. Sadly, I possessed no mutant genes and I was only bitten by non radioactive spiders.
Over the years, I’ve been a part of many interviews and group gatherings. They almost always start with some kind of ice breaker. The ice breaker questions that always challenged me were “If you had a superpower, what would it be?” or “What is your superpower?”. I had trouble with these because I could never pick just one superpower and I wasn’t aware of any powers that I was gifted with.
It all started earlier this year. From February 26th thru March 2nd, I worked and volunteered with Campowerment at Gindling Hilltop Camp. Originally, I was only asked to come out and lead a morning exercise for the campers, but after hearing more about camp I wanted to be more involved. I was offered a volunteer role to help set up camp, guide campers to different activities, and when I wasn’t needed, I was able to participate in the workshops. It was during this time, at my own version of Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, that I experienced an awakening. Through guided meditations, quiet self-reflections, and some of the most honest human interactions, I was gaining awareness of my subtle superpowers.
It was fitting that March 2nd was also the day that I officially became an ambassador for Lululemon. During the ambassador meeting, we were asked what our superpower was. For the first time ever, I had an answer. Vulnerability. Vulnerability was my super strength, it was how I read people’s minds by being open and honest and receiving the same in return, it was how I healed my heart by not trapping in the damage, it was how I climbed over other people’s walls and was let in.
Much like the young mutants at Xavier’s academy, I was unaware of my powers for most of my life. I was a shy kid that watched my mom open her heart to everyone. She wasn’t ashamed to share stories of her struggles with addiction, her childhood, or being a single mom. She used those stories to connect with people and to help others. I remember my senior year in high school being asked to join a support group for kids whose families were affected by addiction. I was told that I was being asked because they knew my mom, my unfortunate childhood stories, and hoped that I would be comfortable sharing with the younger kids that were struggling. I’ll admit that my initial reasoning for saying yes was because they told me that the group would meet during the school day and so I would get out of class. What I didn’t know was that that first meeting would be the start of my vulnerability training. It was in that group that I began to share my stories.
My stories include: growing up with a single mom, having an older brother who, due to his own insecurities, did everything he could to fuck with my head, experiencing the loss of my best friend who was shot and killed for no reason, being molested by an older boy, driving hours on the weekends to visit my older brothers in jail, throwing out two of my mom’s boyfriends, being choked in my apartment by my neighbor for trying to stop them from taking our food, looking at my brother watch me as I was being choked and refused to back down, and the one time I hooked up with a girl from MySpace and got chlamydia.
Love is where I’ve found most people admit to being scared to be vulnerable. No one wants to be the first to show their hand. Shakespeare wrote tragedies on unrequited love. The idea of opening up to someone you care deeply for can be terrifying. I’ve been in great relationships that didn’t last and I was in an abusive relationship that lasted too long. In my last blog, I talked about my single year and in that story I reference my ability to dive in without making sure the water is warm first. When in love, I’ve never been scared to be the first to say “I love you.”
There is one area where I still struggle with vulnerability. I’m still pretty bad at reaching out and asking people for help. It is something that I’m working on, and something that I know a lot of people share with me. Recently, I asked someone for help and they remarked that had we traded places they didn’t think they would have asked me for help. When I asked them why, they told me it was because they wouldn’t want to bother or burden me. I then asked if I was bothering or burdening them with helping me, and they assured me I wasn’t. I smiled, thanked them, and told them to remember that for the next time they were in my shoes. A few days later they in fact reached out and asked if I could help them with something.
Vulnerability means being naked and that can be scary. So can the most badass, amazing, thrilling rollercoaster. All it takes is one ride to want to run and ride it again! If you refuse to see rollercoasters as awesome, then imagine the last new favorite food you tried. Had you passed it up, you’d never have experienced the delicious bowl of thirds!
How do you handle vulnerability?
What is your superpower?