March 27, 2014

Be Your Own Hero. ~ Jen Weddle

It wasn’t easy growing up as a girl who loved comic books. I never really felt as if I fit in anywhere: I still don’t.

To this day, I question my identity as much as I did back when I could sit cross-legged between stacks and stacks of comic books and a self-created fantasy world where I was the main hero.

Who did I want to be today?

Spider-Man. Batman. Superman. Storm. Wonder Woman. Hulk. Captain America?

The possibilities seemed endless and vast in my tiny universe. But the older I became, the more I realized that gender was going to start playing a huge factor in the thing I loved most.

Girls my age were obsessing over Barbies.

I was obsessing over whether or not Batman would finally defeat the Joker and save Gotham once and for all.

It made me feel strange and out of place because I was always the only girl at the comic book store with my dad. There weren’t other little girls to play with because they were too busy being placed into this role of what a girl should be like.

I think my dad really wanted a boy so he’d have me tag along with him to the comic book store or to sports events. The special places reserved for that father and son bonding time was open to an only child like me who had limited knowledge of gender identities. I wish I could thank him for that enlightenment because the truth is as much as I love dresses and shoes, I also love X-Men Origins.

Comic books taught me a great deal about life and about how to be your own hero. It taught me to accept that I loved words, characters and stories. I didn’t care if it wasn’t going to make money because when I identified as a writer: I was my own hero.

I was doing something I loved and being someone I loved at that moment.

The truth is we can all be heroes. I mean anyone can do it if they choose to. There are just a few rules to keep in mind while you search for your own heroic qualities:

1. Be Brave.

Courage takes bravery. No one said that life was going to be easy but do the things that you love to do. If you love to knit but people call you “old,” or they make fun of you: Ignore it. You’re not hurting anyone by knitting. In fact, knitters support one of my favorite causes: knitted sweaters to protect penguins from oil spills. 

So not only are you being brave, but you’re also helping out a really good cause.

Maybe you don’t knit, but my point is bravery comes in various forms and if we don’t do something that challenges ourselves then how can we stand up for our beliefs and what is right when the time finally comes to be heroic?

2. Laugh at Yourself.

Do something weird once in awhile. Sure, I do something strange and bizarre at least once a day because I have to keep myself entertained. Doing something routine gets old after awhile. I like to make strange faces in the mirror because it helps me prepare for the day ahead, and helps me expand my range in facial expressions.

I’ll read a joke before work so that I can feel uplifted. Basically, I’ll try anything that I know can make me laugh because it’s important to find joy in life.

Do you think heroes go around being vengeful and sullen all the time? I mean, other then the Punisher, but that’s kind of his thing.

3. But, Most of All, Love Yourself.

This one may be hard to do, but it’s a lot like riding a bike. Once you’ve experienced it, you’ll never forget it. It will change you. I have loved many things about myself for a long time, but it took me up until recently to truly love myself.

Do things that you like to do each day.

For me those things include: Writing, yoga, baking and running. You might have a completely different list then mine. That’s okay. Embrace our differences because the world would be a boring, superficial place if we all came up with the same ways to love ourselves.

Once you do find your secret, you’ll see that the world is a far more beautiful place then you could have imagined. We all have the ability to do, but it’s the action and the willingness to be brave, to laugh and to love ourselves that unleashes the hero within each of us.

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Editor: Bryonie Wise

Photo: Adriane Hale / Pixoto

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