Have you ever looked back at your teens or early twenties and said, “What was I thinking?”
I have. And the worst part is that there’s so much I can’t remember! I’m not sure whether to blame it on aging or something else – like maybe the possibility that I wasn’t really thinking at all, which is a real possibility.
You may have heard of the Superman complex, a term usually attributed to fearless teenagers who act irrationally and irresponsibly. Think skateboarding, parkour, experimenting with drugs or even openly admitting to being a Belieber.
Now, I don’t want to start something with psychologists here but, in my experience, the effects of this complex last a good deal longer – into late twenties and maybe even our thirties, like a type of mindset hangover.
As I see it, this phase has all the common symptoms of a regular alcohol-induced hangover: headache, nausea, lethargy and even memory loss.
If you feel any of these because you feel like your best days are behind you, and you long for the person you used to be; or, perhaps, you often catch yourself saying things like…
“I used to be so motivated
“I used to be so fearless
“I used to be so ambitious
“I used to be so fun
“I used to be so thin
“I used to be so in love
…I don’t know what happened”…
…then you may have a Superman Complex hangover.
In our thirties, the feeling that we’ve lost our amazing, superhuman capacities certainly isn’t good but, unfortunately, very common.
So how do we get our mojo back if we even can?
Personally, I don’t think we get it back. The days of fearless, ‘conquer-the-world’ stuff are gone. Sorry. Chances are, the stakes are just too high now; you’ve built your empire and other people depend on you; you have a solid reputation, or little ones to support and set an example for.
In other words, we replace our superhuman mindset with even better superpowers that will thankfully continue to support us later on. It’s kind of like how Superman is great because of his other worldly powers but Batman is really awesome because he’s an example of how powerful a regular (albeit billionaire) man can be.
Think about it, in our twenties we are bold, fearless, believing we can fly; but, we’re also kind of stupid. Case and point: my spontaneous trip to Italy at 22 when I took the bus in the wrong direction. Then walking back almost 10 miles back to civilization all the while in scorching heat with no sunblock on. Mamma mia!
I certainly don’t want that carelessness back but I do want the adventurous spirit and a little of the ‘devil-may-care’ attitude woven into my daily routine, to save me from what sometimes feels like the monotony of adulthood.
So what can we do?
Well, gone are the days when I could abandon my work and family to venture to Italy on a moment’s notice and be careless with my young, supple skin.
But I remind myself that here are the days that I bask in the security of my job, steady income, my supportive family and the greater knowledge of myself. Seriously, delving into my own issues and becoming stronger day by day is an amazing adventure and it’s what sprinkles my thirties with extra excitement. Every day I find out more about myself I feel more free and capable and this is a thrill.
It truly makes me cringe when I remember how weak-minded and self-conscious I used to be. It’s just like the next day when you remember what you said in the drunk dial to an ex. Not pretty.
So if you’re still hungover – feeling groggy and nauseated by your present circumstances, you’d better perk up fast. Life is happening and waiting for you to show off your experience muscles like flashy new superpowers or flashy new gadgets that you bought with your own money because you are a cool grownup with a cool, grownup job.
If you have to, send a signal to your inner Batman to remind you that being a grownup is awesome, just for different reasons.
I’m certainly thankful that my jobless, hitchhiker days are over and I have no desire to still be sneaking in late to my parents’ house.
In other words, try and remember that being a grownup has its perks.
Though, if you suspect you have a Superman Complex hangover that’s keeping you stuck and yearning for the past, you may need to unload some of the residue you still have lingering from your teens and twenties.
And if you’re ready for the hot cup of coffee that will help you perk up and get into the good stuff in your thirties, get in touch for a FREE coaching strategy session.
Find out more about how to apply on the Coaching Page at ashewoodward.com