Self-discipline, The Poetry of Life

On Becoming Superhuman

megamonalisa_mona-superwoman

First point: It doesn’t work. So look elsewhere if you’re looking for a real guide to becoming superhuman (http://www.wikihow.com/Pretend-to-Be-a-Superhero).

I’ve powered through January and the first part of February without letting any emotion bubble up. I’ve gotten a lot of work done, made many plans, and come up with a better idea of my career path. I’ve exercised regularly, I’ve budgeted scrupulously, and I’ve indulged minimally. I even bought a book written in German and read a few pages (this is big). But actually I can’t say that I’m proud of any of this. Even though these were the very things I strived for, now they seem meaningless. Because in the process of becoming superhuman, I lost the soul, the funk, the zeal, whatever you’d like to call it…the vibrancy of being human. 

There’s something really appealing about feeling nothing. You can appear strong and confident to everyone watching (or at least you think), and you can even do a good job of fooling yourself sometimes. You feel limitless in your ability to take on new things. Sometimes it feels like there aren’t even enough new things to take on for you to keep your rush going. Last week I wrote to the coordinator of my Ph.D. program with a detailed plan of my next five years of research. Her response essentially said to chill out, that she will work with me to achieve my goals when the time comes, but that it’s too early to be worrying about it. This was upsetting, because I wanted to worry about! I wanted to plan the future with cold clarity. In that future world I’m the star of my own show. For the soap opera that is presently my life, I barely got a callback. Knowing that the present world outside is painful or scary, I thought shutting down emotionally and becoming a superhuman seemed like a good plan.

The only problem with that is that you can’t selectively shut off feelings. Out with the bath water goes the baby. Start replacing cocoa-dusted cappuccinos with low-fat Greek yogurt in order to become more awesome, and you might feel healthier, but are you really? What if when we follow these crazy superhuman ideals of the grocery-store-check-out-aisle magazines, we grow further from our real selves, we run 30 minutes a day farther from the nest of comfort and sensuosity that nurtures our souls?  What if, as model Cameron Russell admits (http://www.ted.com/talks/cameron_russell_looks_aren_t_everything_believe_me_i_m_a_model.html), the closer you get to superhuman, the worse you feel? The art of being sensuous, of accepting our humanity, is an art that merits more attention among today’s fast-paced, strive-until-you-make-it, dehumanizing messages. I’ve decided–at least for today–to take off my cape, add another sugar to my cappuccino, and return to being “just” me.

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1 thought on “On Becoming Superhuman”

  1. I loved it Jill! And I know how you feel, sometimes I feel like I’ve stepped out of myself and I let myself go through the motions so I can’t really take in what’s happening around me. Just know that you’re not the only one who feels this way. Being human means emotion, and even though they are not all beautifully simple, they are what separates us from every other living creature on this earth. They are what transform us from simply living to living purposefully, from being a player in a game to stealing the show. So go steal back the spotlight of your life.

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