Author: Will Westwater
Last spring semester I received a D on an economics exam. My grades were hurting overall and I was having a tough time with most of my classes. I was extremely disappointed, but then the funniest thing happened. After the initial hit from the grade, the first thing that came to my mind was the voice of Batman’s trusted butler, Alfred: “Why do we fall, Master Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves back up again.”
It was probably one of the most nerdy moments of my life, but this quote from “Batman Begins” made me so happy at that time and reminded me that things were going to be okay. Batman picked himself back up and I would too.
This spontaneous reaction was not an isolated event —it opened my eyes to all the situations in which I use superheroes for motivation. I realized that I needed even more superhero moments in my life.
I started buying superhero apparel en masse. To some this may seem extreme or childish, but it keeps me going when I need an extra push. I can lift a little more in the gym when wearing my Captain America socks. I can suit up like Iron Man in my Tony Stark T-shirt. I can focus like Peter Parker when wearing my Spider-Man tank top. When I need motivation to not take the easy way out, I ask myself: “What would Captain America do?” It is nerdy, but it works. This same idea can be applied to all sorts of things, not just superheroes.
When something goes wrong, when times get tough and when all hope seems lost, our heroes are there. Such characters, whether it be Katniss Everdeen, Superman or Yoda, have qualities to which we can all relate and aspire.
However, this deep belief in fiction can avert our eyes from crucial reality, “fiddling while Rome burns;” distracting us and giving us an escape from real problems. It is important to be mindful of the difference. But when used properly, this escapism can be an asset.
We are entering the most stressful part of the semester; the time when we can get bogged down by things that mean a lot to us. In this time we can look to our heroes. Real or fictional, they can make a difference in our outlook on life and give us the motivation to keep going.
As Dumbledore said, “Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry; but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” If something fictional that gives you a more positive outlook on the events in your life or makes you a better person, who is to say that it is not the most real thing in the world?
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