Now, I realize that with a title like this, ‘My Superhero Origin Story,’ I’ve caused you to expect something completely out of the ordinary. Some big ‘aha’ moment. Some accidental encounter with a totally banned, non FDA-approved, black market radioactive substance. So let me start by saying, you’re reading the wrong blog. I have no such supernatural superpower – or, to put it another way since I’m still holding out hope, I have yet to discover my supernatural superpower! Rest assured you’ll be the first to know when I do.
OK… So what the heck AM I writing about!? Or why?
One. I was having dinner and a beer with a new friend when he asked me, So Margaret. Tell me your superhero origin story. I had never heard anyone describe getting to know someone in this way, and I was hooked. Of course, not five minutes before, he had shared one of the most interesting stories of how he came to be that I had ever heard. Along with respect and awe, I was feeling a major case of inferiority. Lucky for me, I control the password to this blog and he can’t come in to wow you right now – so you’re stuck with me!
Two. I started this blog on March 7, 2016 and have yet to fill out the About Me section. It’s been plaguing me for months. It’s not just that internet readers expect a pithy, interesting, 200 word summary of who you are, but also that I didn’t have a good answer to that question. I’d think about it and start getting all anxious that I didn’t know who I was. Though I feel quite secure in my day-to-day brand – yes I call it my brand – it’s the where I’m going, the so what, the why do I even exist!? that remains quite foggy. Plus I hate it when people introduce themselves or answer who they are by quoting their career. I mean, is that WHO YOU ARE? Is what defines you!? Is that your soul!?! – and I just had to have a better answer than that. Thus the performance anxiety of actually putting pen to paper.
Three. Last weekend was my five year college reunion. If you’re reading this, you must fall into one of three categories. Too young and feeling scared for my old age, too old and rolling your eyes at my saying ‘old age,’ or you’re 26 years old going on 27 and totally getting me right now. To be clear, I’ve dealt with my fear of getting old for the time being – I’m still in the sweet sweet ageless Asian years, before the poof! old woman! happens. (See comic illustration here if you’re the one person on planet earth with internet access who hasn’t seen it already. It’s pretty accurate. My mom’s hair looks just like that. Isn’t she adorable?)
Besides goofing off with friends and striking up conversation familiar strangers til the wee hours of the morning, I had quite a few surreal moments at my college reunion. I sat there for the 9am Civil and Environmental Engineering Class of 2011 breakfast, wondering what kind of sicko would schedule a breakfast on reunion weekend to start at this ungodly hour, watching a slideshow of super civil-y pics scroll by – concrete canoe, solar oven, water purification. A professor sat to my right, asking how he could improve the blah-bitty-blah curriculum. My friend, who is now a Professional Engineer with millions of lives in her hands as she rebuilds all the past-due decrepit bridges in the New England area, (I’m SO PROUD of her! I spent half the weekend blurting out to everyone we met that she scored PE status) was happily gabbing away. Myself, I was struggling to keep my eyes from glazing over. To be fair, this particular professor was no friend of mine and taught water things, which I avoided at all costs in my studies. I was a structures and dirt kinda gal. I thought, This was my life. This was my life! And… this is SO NOT MY LIFE anymore! With that I felt a mix of relief, yearning, and loss. My connection to civil engineering has been reduced to a heightened appreciation for construction sites and bridges – I can’t begin to articulate why I’m so obsessed but I just am, bridges get me, hence this post’s featured photo – a slightly above average ability to converse with those actually in the field, and a stone cold no-hesitation response of ‘civil engineers’ when people ask who the coolest engineers are. Which admittedly, happens never.
My life today looks quite different than it did five years ago, and again from five years before that. I’ve built these new layers of identity, and I don’t want to lose sight of that.
A break from my ramblings for a brief video of the sober moments from this weekend’s reunion,
Four. I was killing time on the interwebs and read a quote somewhere that said, It’s not just about the destination. It’s about the journey. The destination is death. The quote was meant to be a joke, and I have no desire to get into some big existential or religious debate about what comes after death, mostly because I haven’t yet been able to process death in this tiny pea-sized brain of mine, but I appreciate the shock value it delivers above the traditional phrase. It’s kind of like a question I ask myself to pump up at work – If I were to be fired next week, what is it that I would do here? My friend’s pointed out to me that most normal people would take off a few sick days and do nothing, but for some reason this prompt causes me to think WAY outside the box and feel energized to leave my mark even more. I think my rather roundabout point is, I’ll never have a perfect answer to who I am or who I want to be, and that’s how I need to approach my answer. As a journey, not a destination.
Now if by some miracle you’re still reading this, you’re probably marveling at the fact that I’ve written 1027 words and managed to completely avoid actually writing my superhero origin story. I’ve essentially shared nothing with you over the past ten minutes. But that’s the secret really – it’s the journey, not the destination, right?!
I know, I know. It seems like I tricked you, tried to be all deep, and left you with a cliff hanger. Please. It’s not like that. Really what happened is the clock struck 8:30 am and I have a meeting in half an hour. Plus my thirty minute bout of writing mojo has run out.
More to come, I promise. And so I sign off and amend the title to, ‘My Superhero Origin Story Pt1.’
To be continued…