How Rudolph Can Help You Find Your Superpowers

What makes the red-nosed reindeer different, makes him strong — the same is true for you.

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The gift of not fitting in
The gift of not fitting in

There’s no one else like you. You don’t have to try to be unique. You already are. The trick to finding your superpowers is to own what makes you different. The problem is, sometimes your superpowers feel more like burdens than gifts. So, you don’t acknowledge them or you try to hide them.

This time of year many of us love to watch the classic 1964 TV special “Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” Do you remember how the other reindeer tease Rudolph mercilessly for having a bright red nose? He feels like he doesn’t belong.

Eventually, Rudolph ends up on the island of misfit toys. This sanctuary of unwanted presents is home to such rejects as a Charlie-in-the-box, a polka-dotted elephant, a bird that swims instead of flies, a cowboy who rides an ostrich, a train with square wheels, and a squirt gun that shoots jelly.

If these fabulous creatures were ever to take a creativity workshop from me, I’d instantly give them each an A+ for originality and inventiveness. Their superpowers are marvelous! Rudolph fits right in.

But as we all know, that’s not where the story ends. The plot twist happens toward the end of Johnny Marks‘ popular Christmas song. Once Santa realizes that Rudolph’s superpower can help him weather the storm, Rudolph is able to own his unique gift and shine his crazy light out into the world.

What about you? Have you ever felt like you don’t belong? Were you ever made fun of or minimized for doing something you loved that didn’t fit with what others value?

Our superpowers often reveal themselves to us when we’re children, teenagers, and young adults. But because our parents and teachers often ignore, minimize, or suppress our genuine gifts, we tune them out.

According to vulnerability researcher Brené Brown, 42% of kids are shamed away from pursuing some form of creative expression in school. We end up burying our treasured abilities to protect ourselves from being hurt.

I give you an A+ for being YOU. Right now. Just the way you are. Period. Sure, you could always improve. But the most important thing you can do to stay happy and centered, no matter what happens, is to accept yourself exactly the way you are.

What’s wrong with a squirt gun that shoots jelly? Or a bird that swims? Or an ostrich-riding cowboy? NOTHING. It’s only when we compare these toys to what we think they SHOULD do that they seem defective.

In the same way, people sometimes measure you up against the you they think you should be, so it’s no wonder you come up short. It’s not a reflection on the real you. Some folks will love you just the way you are; some won’t. You don’t need to change a thing. Just be who you are.

What did you love to do as a child or young adult that’s been stifled or put on hold? The answer is right in front of your nose. (Please forgive the pun.)

Often the very qualities you view as your flaws are actually your greatest gifts.

Dig deep. What fills you with curiosity? What do you love to read about, talk about, dream about? What’s your favorite hobby? Even if nobody else around you is doing it, too, it still matters. Give it some attention and see what happens.

The sooner you embrace your superpowers, the sooner you will find a tribe who supports you, and the happier and more powerful you will be.

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