If you tell yourself something for long and often enough you will at some point start to believe it. Whether the affirmation or mission statement concerns one’s work personal or love life, compelling repetition has proven to be the fuel in one realising their end goal. I say this because this was the case in my own life. Ever since I was a gullible child of five, I idolised Superman. From the first time Christopher Reeves donned the iconic blue and red pantyhose in the first superman movie back in 1978, I was hooked. Please understand, seeing pictures in early comics and magazines had nowhere near the same effect that actually seeing the hero depicted in moving visuals. The man was faster than a bullet, had square jaws, perfectly jelled hair, impervious to harm and for some reason no one recognised that it was simply mild mannered Clark Kent without the glasses. The man’s mystique was mind boggling. From that moment I wanted to be Superman. I would tie my swimming towel around my neck as a cape and would perch on the top of my bedroom wardrobe scouring the city of my room for evil doers. My unfortunate pillows and He-Man action figures received numerous beatings for their evil plots to take over my shoe cabinet. In my childhood innocence I was convinced I could very well be the man of steel. I even started doubting my paternity and begged my father to tell me the truth about the burnt patch of lawn in our back yard. I was confident that was where my Kryptonian ship had landed. The truth was my idiot uncle was helping my father change the oil in his car and in a moment of genius decided to dispose of it on the lawn. I however did not buy into this conspiracy. I was Superman.
Psychologists have postulated that childhood trauma, in most cases may carry on into adolescence, and well into adulthood. In my case it was not trauma, but the firm belief that I was Superman incarnate. I was always a small child so I was an easy target for bullies back in school. Still when confronted by these agents of evil I would pout my lips and push my chest out in as heroes’ stance. This however didn’t deter the evil doers from beating me to pulp for being insolent but I still believed that I had to grow into my super powers and then they’d be sorry. I identified with both sides of the hero because I was as meek and mild mannered as Clark was and at the same time I had my bouts of plucky heroism. So I was the perfect fit. I did take into account his one weakness, kryptonite. I searched high and low for any deposits of the wretched mineral in order to avoid it in future and there was no sign of the green stone. So I believed I was safe not knowing that it simply came in a different form.
As puberty rolled around the world started making little sense. I started noticing girls as the fair and glorious creatures they were and they noticed me in not so much the same light. I tried the same tricks that my chick magnet cousin Simon pulled to get dates and he did exceedingly well for himself, still the formula didn’t work for me. Simon was the captain of the basketball team, was an active member of the Junior Lions club, and was in the running for school head boy post. I however had managed to land myself as the benchmark for the other end of the spectrum. My confidence was shot and my Superman experienced his first Kryptonite encounter. The fact that I attended the same high school as my female-adhesive cousin really did nothing to alleviate my woes. The constant comparison to him was a continual kicking to my nether regions and I took it with a defeated spirit. Instead of rising to the occasion I cocooned and receded into a mass of self pity and disenchantment. All the words of discouragement poisoned my spirit and threw me under the proverbial bus. One may scoff at this and say I was being melodramatic but all those who care to cast their memories back will remember how much a young man’s worth was calibrated by his popularity with his peers during this time in life especially with the female species.
The difficult time of wet dreams, pimples, and Playboy Magazines passed and I found myself in my first year college student studying Hospitality management. That is when I met my college sweetheart who happened to be the one of the hottest girls on campus. The fact that she chose to be with me was not only a source of constant perplexity for many but also a major self buoyancy boost. Remnants of my adolescent experiences still lingered in my life but i felt that if I could bag a girl like this then I could conquer the world. The blue and red super suite had returned and I felt the big red “S” burning in on chest again. This assertion permeated to other parts of my life. I breezed through my studies and graduated with honours. I was even recruited by the leading hospitality group before completing my studies. I was the hero I always dreamed I’d be. As all great romances go it didn’t last with my college sweet heart and we broke up right after graduation. She had outlived her purpose towards the greater good anyway. I then met my exceedingly beautiful wife Lynette when i was management trainee for one of Zimbabwe’s leading hotels and she fit right in. I completed my training and was appointed a department head managing 193 members of staff. That wasn’t enough since the Superman in me wanted to soar to greater heights. I worked hard till the bosses in huge air conditioned offices with two assistants noticed my efforts and decided to recruit me for their General Management Development Program. There I was, on my way to becoming the general manager of a hotel at the tender age of 26. I was that good, or should I say “Super”.
I believed in my own greatness and invulnerability I believed I was incapable of making a wrong move. I decided that my then employers were incapable of carrying me to the heights I envisaged so I discarded them in favour of not only a more established hospitality group but a new country all together. I moved to South Africa promising Lynette a life of plenty and abundance since I was Superman and all adversities trembled at the mere sight of me. Unfortunately this was easier said than done. My prospects faded and I found myself unemployed and down on my luck. Lynette turned into the super heroine for our home while i became the damsel in distress. She brought home the bacon while I waited to receive it. Regrets from job applications came hard and fast, financials were tight and small disagreements gave birth to even bigger ones and those procreated exponentially. I came from being a “Super” God-like life form, flying faster than a speeding bullet, to being a creature of frail flesh and blood. The Superman persona abandoned me once again.
With all this time on my hands I took stock of my life and listened to my friends and relatives on what they regarded as realities and facts. The world was never inhabited by super heroes, but simple mundane humans who scrape through meagre existences. I accepted that Superman was nothing more than the product of Jerry Siegel’s imagination and had no place in the world of the living. I had to deal with my issues just like the rest of the world. I dispensed with the Super silliness and packed away the super suite to the bottom of my “nothings” closet. I managed to get a job that I was exceptionally over-qualified for with a menial salary but it enabled us to make some sort of living. I was content and the world was the heartless witch I was supposed to take it as right from the beginning.
One summer day after a long and tedious day, I came home exhausted and just sank into my favourite couch. Lynnette came from the bedroom with her hands behind her back and asked me to close my eyes. When I opened them she had a Superman T-Shirt in her hands and she whispered, “I want my Superman back.” At that point I felt a deep sadness over come me. I realised that I had played a major part in killing my Superman. I’ve been collecting kryptonite since I was in high school by listening to detractors and nay-Sayers that it stuck to the lining of my pockets. I abandoned my beliefs and decided to listen to reason and sanity. As I listened to every one of these I put a piece of kryptonite in my pocket that further weakened me and my super being. In a world where there are such seemingly insurmountable problems, maybe a super hero in all of us is exactly the fix we need. I believed I was superman and in that belief I accomplished most of my life’s milestones and the minute I stopped I fell off the wagon.
So now I resolve to get rid of all the krytonite I’ve been collecting in my pockets over the years and shield myself from any more. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to look for a telephone booth to change in.