I was never especially into princesses as a kid. I’m sure my Mom had something to do with that. She is a feministic, no-nonsense woman who didn’t care much for pink or frills. When I was 5 and Underoos* were all the craze, I wanted the Super Girl bra and panties set, but instead I got the more practical Wonder Woman undershirt and brief combo. Turns out as has often been the case, Mom knew just what I really needed.
Always There Inside
I was a painfully shy kid. However, I do remember wearing those bulky Wonder Woman undergarments with joy and pride. It was like a little piece of confidence tucked away beneath my clothes. As I grew older, and the Underoos no longer fit, I found an inner confidence that constantly battled my shy, timid self, enabling me to be rather outspoken at times. By the time I was in college, my confidence had hit its stride. Yet, making small talk still lingered as my personal kryptonite. One night at a college party, I was chatting with a young man who was visiting a friend. The conversation had hit a lull and I was growing antsy, when he paused to take a long hard look at me, his intense eyes making me ever more uncomfortable. Then, in the most matter-of-fact manner he said, “You know who you look like? You look like Wonder Woman?” Me? Wonder Woman? I beamed. It doesn’t matter that the reference is a bit of a stretch, it has been an uplifting affirmation ever since.
Since my college years, my confidence has waxed and waned. Autoimmune disease sometimes takes its toll and I am left feeling anything but super. Add to that the fact that I have been a chronic people pleaser, and the outcome is a tendency to give my power away. Just a few weeks ago, I found myself in a powerless position dealing with a demanding colleague who was criticizing my every move. I knew I was doing the best I possibly could. I also knew that the colleague was reacting from a place of anger and defensiveness, classic signs of someone who is choosing fear over love. Even though I recognized the situation as being out of my control, I just could not reclaim my power. I was in need of some retail therapy, so I headed for the craft supply store in search of new silver cording for a cross I wear over my heart, a different type of super power. As I waited in line, my eyes were drawn to a notebook set. It was a shimmering sight, one of those holographic prints that displays a different message depending on the angle of your view. As a picked it up I could see it said “Wonder Woman”, then “Nobody’s Sidekick.” It was a silly impulse buy, but it was the best $4 I’ve spent in months. I needed the reminder.
Striking a Power Pose
A few days ago I received another reminder that my inner super hero is always available. My friend Leslie, the co-director of an upcoming performance of “The Vagina Monologues” (TVM), which I am somewhat nervously participating in, posted a link to a TED talk by Amy Cuddy that discusses the correlation between body movements and confidence. I had watched that talk almost a year ago, and it struck me as an incredibly helpful and simple tool in boosting one’s confidence. After watching the video a second time I realized that I had regularly been using the recommendations of placing my hands on my hips before speaking, a pose they had dubbed “The Wonder Woman.” In fact, I am sure I had been using the techniques when I practiced my lines for the TVM show at home, since my delivery had become so dramatic that my cats would often cry seemingly afraid of my new more powerful presence.
Could it Be You?
Right around the time that I purchased my Wonder Woman notebook, a different idea of super hero crossed my path. Although I never watch award shows, sometimes I get caught up in the aftermath – the speeches, who wore what, the big winners. That was the case with this year’s Oscars. I happened to catch a clip of Matthew McConaughey’s acceptance speech in which he revealed that he is always chasing himself. Although it was just a sound bite, which the media seemed to mock and chastise as being odd and egotistical, I couldn’t help but wonder if it carried a deeper message. The next day a post appeared in my LinkedIn feed with a link to the full speech. Watching it I felt an overwhelming sense of sincerity and gratitude as he shared his beliefs that God is our truest friend (and thus so are we), that gratitude is rewarded, and that we need to be our own inspiration. It didn’t feel the least bit egotistical for him to suggest that we should all be inspired by our own strengths and achievements striving to always be better than we were the decade before. It helped me to realize that while Wonder Woman may be the icon that encourages me to improve physically, mentally and emotionally, my true super hero could very well be me.
What do you think? Who is your super hero?
(*I’m dating myself here with this shout-out to all the ladies of the 80s. Underoos were “underwear that’s fun to wear.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Underoos)
[Update 4/1/14 – Found this great pin on Body Language Tips ]