With their forays into mutant beings, aliens, and time travel, I don’t usually look to superhero television shows for practical advice. But in Supergirl, I’ve found a couple of heroines that have taught me a lot about what means – and doesn’t – to be enough.
Cat Grant, self-titled “Queen of All Media,” seems like she has it all: a media empire, a huge office, a devoted assistant, famous friends (“Call Harrison Ford and tell him I’m flattered, but once and for all, I do not date older men, especially when they’re married”), an enviable collection of clothes, and even a family life with a young son. But Cat regrets her non-existent relationship with her older son and her mom dismisses her accomplishments.
Kara Danvers – also known as Supergirl – similarly seems like she has it all. She has two amazing jobs, friends who love her, a beautiful apartment, and the ability to fly. She’s literally saved the world! But despite all of this, she still worries if her life is on the right path, clashes with her family members (sometimes literally), and has the most difficult work/life balance in existence.
These are women who are enough – more than enough, in fact. And yet, they still struggle with both their own and society’s expectations.
Fortunately, they offer me hope. Even though it may seem like I have it together from the outside – a great job doing what I love, two kids, married to my high school sweetheart, house in the suburbs, multiple volunteer activities – I’m plagued with insecurities.
I worry that I don’t spend enough time with my kids, that I’ll never publish my book, that my carbon footprint is too high, that I nag my husband too much, that I haven’t been to the gym in a year, that my volunteer work isn’t effective, and that my garden is a disaster.
I compare myself to other women who do “better” on any number of measuring sticks: number of hits on their blog, miles they’ve run this week, stamps on their passport, meals made of locally grown ingredients, and fashionable outfits in their closet.
I castigate myself, thinking, “You can do better. You’re just being lazy / disorganized/ scatterbrained. If you tried harder, you could get it all done.” Or the other route to self-doubt: “I’d never be cool enough / a good enough writer / a crafty enough mom to do what she does.”
Or simply: “You are not good enough.”
But that’s a lie.
Just like Cat Grant and Kara Danvers, I am enough.
The fact is, no one is perfect – but we’re all amazing in our own ways. We just need to be willing to see both sides in ourselves and other people.
That lady who’s impeccably dressed but hates her job? Not perfect, but amazing.
That mom who packs bento boxes with notes for her kids’ lunch but is snippy when her own mom visits? Not perfect, but amazing.
That woman who has thousands of social media followers but is afraid to travel by herself? Not perfect, but still amazing.
The fact is, even the women who seem that they “have it all” simply don’t. From careers to motherhood, it’s impossible to meet up to society’s all-encompassing and contradictory expectations.
Unlike the women fed to us by most of the media – whether laughing while eating salad or posing with toddlers in beige clothing – people and their lives are messy and complicated. But people are also beautiful and surprising. The only way we can find balance is to embrace both sides.
When I fret over leaving for work before my older son wakes up, I should remember lying in the grass with him at the park a few days before.
When I shake my head at the tall weeds dominating our lawn, I should recall how we were wandering along a sun-dappled hiking trail on Saturday instead.
When I regret the fact that I’ve only done 10 minutes of yoga in the past month, I should remind myself of the hills I climbed on my bike with the baby trailer in tow.
When my latest community bike ride doesn’t get a single attendee, I should think about the little girl last year who told me how much she loves biking.
All of it messy and beautiful, imperfect but amazing.
And you? I bet you aren’t perfect. But I know you’re amazing. And that’s more than enough.