Every superhero story begins with the same key element. Batman lost both his parents, Spiderman lost his uncle, Green Arrow lost his fortune, Captain America overcame ill health. Have you noticed a theme yet? All these heroes are praised for overcoming the odds as they overcame adversity.
They used their negative event to fuel their passion and drive them to make a difference in the world. You’ve heard it all before, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and whilst I do believe that, it occasionally feels instead like a cruel method of natural selection – the weak get weeded out. When this was said to me when I was in hospital, it frankly felt more like a kick in the gut. I was strong enough without having to have a brain tumour to increase my strength and in saying this cliche statement, it neglects the importance of allowing yourself at times to be weak and vulnerable. This is of the utmost importance because you are entitled to feel how you want to, and especially when you are in the midst of adversity, you should be able to express your anger or grief in the method you feel most appropriate (within reason).
Instead I prefer to view it like this: ‘Life isn’t what happens to you, but how you choose to handle what happens to you’. It is my belief that you have little control over the cards you have been dealt but it is in how you cope and manage that you regain control over your life. No event can destroy you without your permission. There is a reason why we admire superheroes for their bravery, because it takes strength to overcome the inevitable anger that will be there when stuck in a shitty situation but I like to think my adversity is what gave me my cape! It is why I believe adversity does demonstrate true strength in an individual, not because you didn’t die, but because it gives you gratitude and appreciation. Appreciation of the life, usually due to the emotional awareness of death, and gratitude at the second chance you have been given.
Adversity is what decides whether a superhero or a supervillain is created. The Joker may have let his scars on his face change how he viewed the world, but I chose an alternative, and I urge you to do so as well. Adversity is often viewed as an obstruction to your success, but I view it with a different mindset. It is merely a challenge, one that can be overcome if you so choose it.
There is a reason why all superheroes are born out of adversity from a psychological standpoint. People like to fight for the underdog, people like characters that triumph over negativity and I like to think these superheroes are not isolated to fictional characters. I bet if you think about your life, there are people who despite shitty situations, have gone on to lead extraordinary lives and I bet there are also people in your life that despite whatever happens to them, good or bad, will always have a reason to complain.
Either way, it’s a choice, a decision that people make with the one life they are given. It’s not an easy choice to make the best of a negative situation, but it is a simple one.
What kind of person do you want to be?