Self-Reflection: Clark Kent vs Superman

Sometimes in life one must stop, take a self-assessment, and make necessary changes. I feel like I am at this point: the moment when you realize you need to take a look in the mirror to see who you really are.

Like many people, I can relate to characters in books, television, and movies. One character I always felt a connection to is Superman. Superman’s earthly journey started with humble beginnings as Clark Kent. He was just an “ordinary” person until he learned how to unlock his extraordinary abilities. He became Superman. Once Superman learned how to harness his power, he used it for good as a way to make things better. He eventually became great at everything he did, as long as he had his cape and super suit.

But Superman was really Clark Kent in disguise. Clark was the opposite of Superman in many ways. He was somewhat clumsy and socially awkward. He wasn’t very confident or sure of himself and his abilities. Clark seemed to want to reveal who he was, but every time he got the courage to tell his secret something got in the way. So he toiled in anonymity. In the meantime something strange happened: the intangible qualities he possessed as Clark Kent became as “strong” as the tangible qualities he possessed as Superman. So sometimes Clark wanted to be Superman; sometimes he wanted to be Clark.

Now you may be wondering how this well- known and beloved fictional character relates to this writer. Well I can relate to Clark Kent. I am cut from the same the clumsy, socially-awkward, unsure, and unconfident cloth as Clark Kent. I also learned how to unlock extraordinary abilities. Therefore, I am Superman too. My issue is learning how to harness my power and use my “super” powers for good.

What a lot of people miss is Superman has a complex. Superman wants to save the world, but sometimes he can’t. Psychologists have given this a title: the Superman complex. By definition, it is:

  • Superman complex– the feeling that others cannot perform one or more tasks successfully and sense of responsibility to save others

Superman feels he should be able to save the world. In one movie, he tried to perform so many life-saving deeds simultaneously that he did not have time to “save” the person he loved the most. This made him angry, and it caused him to question everything about himself and why he was given such extraordinary abilities. I can relate.

What a lot of people miss Clark Kent has a complex too. Clark Kent is torn between being “ordinary” and being super. My definition is:

  • Clark Kent complex– deciding how and when to use intangible qualities that go unnoticed or reveal tangible quantities no one knows exist

Clark Kent knows his intangible qualities make him great, but the world doesn’t. He also knows his tangible qualities as Superman make him great, but the world doesn’t. So he goes through life swinging back and forth. Clark Kent wants people to see that he is great. He wants to reveal who he really is, but without his super powers he can’t figure out how to do it. I can relate.

The world loves tangible qualities: good looks, physical appearance, wealth, material things. The world sees the “good’ in Superman. On the other hand, the world overlooks intangible qualities: care, compassion, helpfulness, love and support. The world does not see the “good” in Clark Kent.

Sometimes in life one must stop, take a self-assessment, and make necessary changes. I feel like I am at this point: the moment when you realize you need to take a look in the mirror to see who you really are.

Who am I? I am Clark Kent, but I am super too.

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