Growing up, if you were to ask me who my heroes were I would have probably responded by saying Batman or Superman. Today it is a totally different response. Today I would respond with my parents. So what has changed? The better question should be what hasn’t. Nothing has really changed, rather I have a better understanding of life.
As a young child you grow up with an un-clear idea of fear. As a child, being scared of the dark and eating vegetables could be comparable to now being afraid of a major economic collapse or sky rocketing gas prices. Looking back, their was a period of time in my life where I would say that I fell victim to the ‘Superman Complex.’
What is the Superman Complex
The ‘Superman Complex’ is appropriately named after the classic DC comic hero Superman himself. Superman seemed to be the “unbeatable” superhero. Nothing seemed to impossible for him, nothing seemed to stop him. Still, Superman was not invincible. His weakness was kryptonite. Similar to the story of Superman, many of us in society fall victim to this mind set which is feeling that we are able to do anything without failure or consequences. Individuals that have the Superman Complex also feel the need to save others while feeling ‘invincible.’ Some of us go our whole life living with the mind set of the Superman Complex. While it is not necessarily a bad thing, I wouldn’t say it is a good thing.
One of the classic examples of the Superman Complex can be seen in teens around the age 15-19. Around this time, teens begin to have fewer rules and more trust from their parents. After years of telling their children what is right and what is wrong, parents feel that their children will make the right decision. Unfortunately this is not always true. As teens begin to explore their new found freedom, most go out into the world with no real understanding of what ‘fear’ is. Teens will drive at high speeds only thinking of how fast they can go and how to weave in and out of traffic without slowing down. During this age, teens also will have to face the hard decision of how to deal with drugs and alcohol. It is not an easy age by any means.
Still, the thought process that goes into making these decisions are what separates those with the Superman complex and those who don’t. The teen that drives at high speeds and disregards the safety of others has the mindset that they are ‘invincible.’ Most people I have talked to that have been in major car accidents have told me that after they had the accident they won’t drive fast and are in some ways scared too because they know what can happen. Without this ‘fear,’ teens that decide to drive the way they do will always have the feeling that they are immune to the consequences or that ‘it won’t happen to them.’ In a way, the Superman Complex can be thought of as ‘living life without fear or realization of consequence.’ As mentioned, the Superman Complex can apply to anyone.
The Superman Complex revolves around the idea of being fearless, but in reality it is important to not live in fear, but learn from it. As Louisa May Alcott once said:
“I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning how to sail my ship”
Let us not be afraid of living life, but learn how to live it.