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What Are Your Superpowers?

2020 was a pivotal year for everyone and I for one was stretched beyond my limits. Every day seemed like it was at least 72 hours long. And by the end of the week, after pushing through exhaustion, anxiety that was increasing by the minute, and a constant deluge of responsibilities getting added to my plate, there were many times I asked myself, “What is it all for?” Here are a few of my other daily musings:

Did anything get accomplished? Nope – not very well. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again (in other words, cereal for dinner never hurt anyone). Was anything actually better? Hard to say. What day was it again? Was there a sense that the world was safer after all of the effort? The definition of the word “safer” is most definitely in flux. When will it end? Lolz. Is it over yet? See previous answer. But, all hope was not lost. The raging pandemic did force me to put my family, my life and my career into sharper focus. My energy was extremely limited and time was precious. It became essential that I prioritize self-care, and maintain connections with the people that filled my cup (instead of draining it). Life hacks were not only welcomed, they were a necessity. We all were trying to survive this was a once-in-lifetime crisis, alone and without a manual. If we were to have any chance of making it at all, we had to get to the root of how we got here. We had no choice but to get up every day and attempt to ‘fix’ this messy reality all over again (Groundhog Day is real). But, in addition to my snarky questions listed above, I was left with two serious, sobering ones that I came back to over and over again: “How do we do life now?” and “Where do we start?”

Before I earned my Masters in Social Work, I received my Undergraduate degree in history. This matters because my brain being what it is and working the way it works, I find it necessary to analyze and understand. The WTF-ness of our new way of life presented me with an opportunity to catalog the traits that I felt helped me preserve a semblance of my sanity. Putting it another way, what were the things about me that I believed to be vital to not only mark this incredible time, but will help me visualize a way ahead? Evolution teaches us that when we’ve endured a trauma, our brains map and codify ‘the how it happened’ and ‘the why we were able to escape,’ so the odds of being put in a similar, precarious situation are drastically reduced – if not eliminated all together. It’s how the cavepeople before us, survived tens of thousands of years ago. It’s also why after a traumatic event has occurred, it seems as though the harrowing, life-changing event, is the only thought on our minds during the most inopportune moments (despite our strong desire for sleep or peace). Yet, while this has been a challenging 2 to 3 years in which we are inundated and surrounded by death, illness, economic strain, and the countless moments in which we felt like we were barely holding on to our emotional health, I feel strongly that the goal should continue to be to think about what has been effective, so we can try to manage better going forward.

What was the thing that propelled me when all I wanted to do was pull the covers over my head? Obviously, I was not alone. We all had to dig deeper to cope, survive and model a bright side for ourselves and those around us. The act of taking stock, will not only help us survive these times, but possibly thrive in them as well. Therefore, I begrudgingly undertook becoming more self-aware. I know, I know. Self-awareness is one of those hippy-dip terms that we all hear, but may have no idea what it is or how to do it. Basically, it just means focusing some of your energy on yourself, actions and thoughts. So instead of cueing up the Netflix during those many sleepless nights, I spent some of that time reevaluating what I thought I knew about myself. I did say some of the time. Anyone that knows me, knows that Netflix gives me life (shout out to ‘Too Hot to Handle,’ ‘Emily in Paris’ and ‘Love Is Blind’). I learned how to say (sometimes out loud), “I am good at {blank}.” Or, “I hate {blank}, so I am not going to do it anymore.” All of this self-discovery and newfound comfort in ‘tooting my own horn,’ presented a clearer picture of myself and what I deem to be the superpowers that make me, Me. Me: Strong, smart, creative, funny, honest and resilient. Also Me: Stubborn, competitive, not a fan of rejection and more than a little opinionated.

My time in quarantine hell revealed to me that, yes, I am detailed oriented, despite hating excel spreadsheets. And no, I don’t like confrontation, but I am not afraid of saying what needs to be said (although, I should probably work on my timing). Despite what others think, I know I am an introvert, but I can push myself to speak in front of a crowd (yes, I will be exhausted later). I am curious about the world around me, but know where I belong in it. I like the idea of learning, but sometimes I don’t actually get around to putting in the work (i.e., one day I WILL be able to speak conversational French – just not today). I love laughing, but admittedly, I am not always able to laugh at myself. This was not an exercise in vanity. Knowing myself, my limits and my boundaries have made the uncertain world feel more secure. When times get tough, I feel confident in being able to rely on my creativity or sense of humor to get me through the next week, day or minute.

Which brings me to this blog and website. We all have flaws, even superheros. And while I am no guardian of the galaxy, my personal kryptonite has always been risk. I am that girl that will cash out at a casino when I am up $50. Good or bad, I just have never been the type of person that can easily throw caution to the wind. In the past, I have been content to put my head down, do the work, and hope I get noticed or rewarded eventually. It shouldn’t be a surprise to you, dear reader, that women are conditioned not to be ambitious. At the end of the day, I didn’t want to be labeled as greedy, demanding, or (gasp!) bitchy. Make no mistake, forwardBravely is a huge gamble for me – personally and professionally. Never have I more honestly put myself out there to be examined, possibly judged and/or criticized. Even more so, there can be a lot of responsibility to carry around when others look to you or when you’re being followed. But what I’ve realized is that there is also danger in doing nothing. Just like there is a “risk” that I might be good at this too. What if my calling is this time and this place?

This endeavor is me stepping up to the plate with my knees shaking a bit. But after all was said and done, hemming and hawing over my nerves were not enough to hold me back. In my opinion, the world has enough people that go through the motions of life and don’t really put themselves out there. It’s time we stopped seeing, and not saying. Or, going along to get along. And even as I say this, trust me, I get the desire for status quo. Who among us doesn’t love comfort in these times of great stress (see: a blanket, a couch, and the aforementioned Netflix)? But while there’s tangible comfort in just keeping your head down and looking after you and yours - where has it gotten us? I believe if we all practiced better self-awareness, celebrated our unique traits, and took the brave leap (despite possible pitfalls in doing so), the world we want to live in, would exist. An ideal can be corny and true at the same time.

So, I am going to attempt to give myself more credit where credit is due (hard for me), put myself first (even harder), and be more appreciative of the journey, not the destination (extremely hard for planner me). I hope to accomplish this by intentionally leaning into my creativity, honesty, and courage, in ways that could enrich me and might provide a path for others. As I continue to add my voice to the chorus, my space in the crowd will get more pronounced and the road ahead will seem a bit less hazy. For those of you that are following this adventure of Me, first off, thank you. Secondly, I am optimistic that by spotlighting everyday acts of courage and creativity – in others and in myself, you’ll be compelled to step outside of your tranquil zone a bit. Check this space often for blogs, book reviews, videos and other content on the regular. I am even in the process of conceptualizing a podcast that I expect to debut here later in the year.

This little forwardBravely dream of mine would not be possible without all of you: my friends, family, colleagues and curious observers. There aren’t enough words to express how much I appreciate the brave steps you took in spaces both big and small when you though no one was looking. Your commitment to perseverance during times of great strife are to be commended. I gained strength from your grit and mettle. Just for kicks, I want you to take a minute and think about your superpowers. You can’t kid a kidder - I know you have many. Are you a boss? Open? Witty? Charming? Fearless? Slick? A hustler? A fighter? A performer? I bet if you really indulged a bit and allowed yourself to think about it, you’d surprise yourself with the answers. But whatever you do, don’t tell me you aren’t brave. forwardBravely is a thing because you (yes – YOU) tapped me on the shoulder, and entrusted me with your honest selves. If I was able to arrive at this very place to try something cool, difficult and new during times of darkness, you can too.

We’re in this together - see you soon!


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