Microsoft Word Note from July 1st 2016:
The Superhero Project
I want to challenge myself.
Yesterday, on June 30th, a friend of mine texted a group of us and asked if we’d join her in a thirty day push-up challenge for the month of July. It’s a great idea. We’re all holding each other accountable and working to improve an area of our lives.
I woke up this morning, on July 1st, and struggled through my 15 push-ups – they are so much harder than I remember and my sleep deprived eyes were barely open when I hit the hardwood floor.
As I brushed the dust from my hands and settled into my normal morning routine - Poptarts, obviously - I decided I would take a personal project for the next 30 days.
This led to a 7.55 am text to my friend for advice on ways to bolster self-esteem/confidence/worth.
He thoughtfully responded with “Allow yourself to listen and trust the people that love you when they tell you how amazing you are.”
I thought about it, decided it was too hard, and a half hour later, came up with my own idea.
I call it the Superhero Project.
It’s really easy – and in a way – silly to think, “I’m going to tell myself one nice thing every morning when I wake up.” I can admit that it's silly because that was my first thought.
Sure, it's easy to wake up and say, “I’m kind” and move on, but there’s no proof in that. There’s no believing that. That is only done to cross something off a to-do list.
I had to take it a step farther. Instead of one-liners, I’m going to do one-pagers. But more than that, I’m going to tell the story as if I were a Superhero. Sometimes, it’s hard to see the things we do as heroic or life-changing or good. Sometimes it’s hard to not be hard on ourselves. So let’s make ourselves Superheroes.
The next 30 stories you will read are actual true events that denote a time when I possessed a favorable personality trait. The only difference is I am portraying myself as [INSERT SUPERHERO NAME HERE], the kind and courageous hero.
I am going to tell my story and in the process, recognize my own abilities and talents in a more profound way that telling the mirror that I’m kind.
Today is July 1st 2016 and this is the Superhero Project.
What follows this note is another 31 pages - one sheet for each day of July. The second page begins,
"July 1st 2016:
[Our Hero] was tired. She had been putting in long hours at the Superhero headquarters and it was taking her three days to reach the suggested amount of sleep/night. She returned to her room around midnight, intent on crawling into bed and calling it an early night. Then she received a text from her friend."
The remainder of the page is a story of kindness and my ability to place someone's needs before my own. Typing that previous sentence felt funny. Telling the story in italics above did not.
I removed myself from the situation. It wasn't Liz who was doing something kind - it was a Hero. It took away any aspect of pride or vanity.
Originally, I was writing "Our Hero" in brackets with every intention of coming back in a couple days once I had decided what my Hero alter-ego would be.
About a week in, I decided to leave it [Our Hero]. Here's why.
Today is July 31st 2016 and I just read the entire document out loud... only every time the page said "Our Hero" or "she" or "her" I changed the phrase to "I" or "me" or "mine."
And only then was a truly aware of my impact. Only then could I really recognize what I had built my life around.
If someone would have told me to write a 32 page document of my accomplishments or of just good things about myself, I would have laughed out loud and ignored the suggestion.
However, when I distanced myself slightly, for writing purposes, I was able to see myself with more clarity.
This project was not about vanity - not by a long shot. This project was about perspective.
How many of you are so quick to defend your friend against her cheating ex, but have no issue getting back with a partner who treated you poorly? How many of you can be patient with an upset friend, but are hard on yourself for being too emotional? How many of you beat yourself up over little things but are always there to listen and comfort a friend who is going through something similar?
It's hard to be your own best friend. It's hard to take care of yourself. It's hard to believe people, sometimes, when they tell you that they love you. Or that you're great. Or that you are a person worthy of their friendship. Sometimes, it's even harder to tell yourself so.
So sometimes? You need to figure out how to become your own hero.
You have to sit down each night and recount the stories of your life and literally write down the words: [Our Hero] is kind. Sometimes you have to spell out how strong [Our Hero] is. Sometimes, you'll need the reassurance of seeing [Our Hero] succeed.
And then one day, you'll look back at all the [Our Hero] brackets. And you'll take out the filler. And you'll realize that the person who has been changing the world has been you all along.
Try your own version of The Superhero Project. For the next 31 days, spend 10 minutes each night, writing a one-page story of a time when you did something incredible. Don't hold back either. Don't think of it as yourself, think of it as a Superhero. Don't edit or reread or think too hard. Just write and move on. On the 31st day, block out some time for you. Go to a quiet room and read the entire document out loud - filling in "I" for all the brackets of Our Hero. You'll be amazed at how amazing you really are.