I love one-liners. They can be funny, sarcastic, inspiring…doesn’t matter. But if it can fit in a box the size of a meme, and say something original that makes me feel something, I’m a fan. What I’ve realized lately though, is that sometimes what it makes me feel is anger. A lot of the time, actually. I have been exploding with anger at things that are so insignificant they don’t even matter, wasting energy that could be better spent on just about anything else.
Know which ridiculous one-liner inspired my last outburst? An innocent Facebook post that said, “Beautiful girl, you can do hard things.”
That’s it. No ethnic or religious groups were mocked. No mention of political leaning. Not even a dirty picture. Just a seemingly innocuous phrase.
When you see phrases like that, it’s supposed to be inspiring and encouraging. But it’s just so unrealistic. Why don’t they just say the truth? “Beautiful girl, life sucks. And you probably hate what’s happening to you right now, but you can’t change it, so just turn it into a one-liner about how awesome you are, and maybe one day you’ll believe it.” That’s what the t-shirts should really say. Not catchy enough to make the sales though, I guess.
Everyone wants to be the hero in their own story, but have you ever thought about how you get to be the hero? You fight. Not just once. You fight over and over and over. You fall flat on your face, and you get scars, and you decide you don’t want to be the hero anymore and maybe it’s not really worth it. You almost die, but then you decide that would be the easy way out, so you get back up on your wobbling knees and fight some more. But none of the t-shirts tell you that.
No one tells you that if you want to be the hero in your story, you’re going to be lonely because heroes scare people. They do things that are shocking and unrealistic. They dig in with determination that is almost insanity because they refuse to give up, even if winning means that their knuckles are bloody and their faces are wrinkled and scarred by the elements. They place impossible expectations on themselves, and then they meet them. When other people tell them to rest or give up, they flip those people off and keep going.
Everyone thinks being a hero in your own story makes you look like Cinderella or Superman. Or an Avenger. But have you ever watched the Avenger movies? I never had until I became a mom to a pre-pubescent boy, and now I have seen them all. I expected to feel awe and inspiration at their heroism and bravery. But more often than not, I thought, “Well that was really stupid. And now they don’t even live? What kind of super hero doesn’t live?” (And also, wow, those special effects were awesome, if I’m being honest).
I have decided that probably the realest of the real hero probably isn’t an Avenger or Superman or Spiderman, or Cinderella who has to have someone else save her and make her feel whole. Probably the realest superhero figure I can think of is Katniss Everdeen. (If you haven’t seen The Hunger Games trilogy, watch it. What else do you have to do right now anyway? And yes, the books are better.) She fights for her family, stopping at nothing to do what she has to do. She puts it all on the line to save her sister, and her country, and her friends. She finds out that nothing is as it appears, and that sometimes all this fighting causes PTSD. That her mom was so much tougher and smarter than she thought. That a boy can’t save you because you have to fight to save yourself. She loses people along the way she thought she would have forever, and then at the very end, she loses what she started fighting for in the first place.
But she keeps getting up. She cries in silence, she wakes up fighting tears and screaming in fear, but every day she still picks up her weapons and keeps going. If you want to talk about “Beautiful girl, you can do hard things,” don’t picture Cinderella waiting on a prince. Heroes can handle their own fights. Picture Katniss Everdeen. And instead of saying, “You can do hard things,” be honest and say what Effie Trinket says: “Welcome to the 2020 Hunger Games. May the odds be ever in your favor.”