archives, feminism

Be a Superhero like Captain Marvel & Human like Carol.

We went to see Captain Marvel last night.

It was a great movie — lots of action, fun effects — but deep down, something in me knew there was more to it. You see, that’s the thing with writers. We’re always looking for links and connections. So as I munched on my movie theater popcorn with real butter, the little gears in my brain started clicking away and A-ha! I figured it out!

The journey of Carol Danvers is about overcoming our traumas and our conditioning, making our way to a place where we are confident, capable… powerful. Her story is a metaphor for how we can all become superheroes in our own right.

Where does this power come from?

You claim it. By doing the hard thing, the scary thing, the thing that you must do, and the thing that will change your life forever. For Carol, this was trusting someone she thought she knew, and then shooting the engine even though (I have to assume) she knew that it would explode.

For you, it might be leaving an abusive relationship, or taking the leap into entrepreneurship, or moving to a different country. It’s a matter of knowing that you deserve more than where you’re at… and knowing that you can have it.

In all of these cases, there is a period of transition and brand new self-definition. People will doubt you, maybe shame you, they might think you’re crazy, and you’ll have to believe in yourself more than ever before.

You probably won’t suffer amnesia and be kidnapped by an alien race to be a pawn in an unjust war as a result. You will, however, have to reconfigure your life, your identity, and the way you engage with the world around you.

How do you use this power?

Carol has been led to believe that she is limited, and that she needs to cut off emotion in order to control her power. She has been lied to and conditioned in order to be used and manipulated, because she has this power. And there are those who would seek to bring you down as well because your own power intimidates them, because your light blinds them.

To leverage your power at its full capacity, you must throw off the conditioning and lies, and see that you have nothing to prove to anyone but yourself.

We live in a world that prioritizes a very masculine energy: clam up your feelings, follow the facts, be independent. But our heroine  —  faced on all sides with men and their ideologies —  proves that humor, compassion, and connection are all valuable, and proceeds to kick some serious ass. So be willing to laugh, to cry, to get angry. Trust your instincts.

Surround yourself with friends who remind you of who you are when you forget. Like Carol, you must face your past and own who you are. Only then can you unleash your true potential.

What exactly is this power?

Being powerful doesn’t have to mean super-strength, or laser-eyes, or the ability to fly. You don’t even have to be a billionaire with big muscles and fancy crime-fighting toys. Those are fun and exciting traits, but they only support and accentuate what lies at the core.

As Carol learned when she faced The Supreme Intelligence, the most important piece of the puzzle is that you are “only human.” You can be hurt. You can stumble. You can fail. You can crash and burn miserably. But you get up and try again, time after time. Your resilience and your determination: that is what counts, that is your power.

So how do you become a superhero?

Like all of our favorites  — Captain Marvel, Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Thor, Gamora, you name ’em  —  you just have to use your powers for the greater good. Be the best you that you can be. Help others when you’re able. Speak your truth, share your story, and stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves.

The world is full of those who are afraid, those who keep quiet, those who doubt their own abilities. They need you. They need to see you in all your glory. They need to see your power and your vulnerability, because that gives them hope for their own lives. You can inspire them to reach for something bigger, something greater than whatever it is they’ve been settling for.

Let Carol be your beacon.

Just as she glows with an inner light when she fully accepts who she is, you too will shine when you claim your power. She is a true leader because by definition, a leader goes first. A leader lifts a light for those who come after. When we are willing to bare our souls to the world and offer up what we have experienced and what we have learned, we are shining our light and changing the world for the better.

So heed Carol’s messages, and live as an example:

… that there is nothing to prove
… that emotion is not weakness
… that vulnerability is strength

… and that your past does not define you, but it can launch you into your next great adventure.


Justin Haley Phillips is a free spirit, an adventurer, a nerd, a people-loving introvert and, above all, a writer. Her purpose with words has always been to express herself with the intention of letting others know they are not alone. She has loved and lost, fought and failed, but always gets back up again, fiercer than ever! Her alter ego is the superhero Bounce-Back Girl. Haley can be found in libraries, on road trips, staring at the sky, leaving behind sticky notes with positive affirmations on them, or curled up with a cuppa and a good book. If you’d like to connect with Haley on Facebook, click here to join her free writers’ group for learning, laughs, and inspiration.


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