Educational Articles

You Are Your Superpower


You Are Your Superpower

Brittany M. Roback, LCPC, CADCClinical Professional Counselor

Every role model we have ever looked up to has had a “Superpower” of some sort. Something we want or wish we could be; talents we could harness or skills we could display for others to envy. What is your superpower? Superpowers are characteristics we view others has having, overlooking the characteristics we may hold, envied by others.

How can it be that in a culture where individuals struggle so much to fit in, we can also desire what makes individuals stick out? Our culture places so much emphasis on standing out but still remaining within the realm of what is culturally acceptable. A popular saying, “Keeping up with the Joneses,” reflects this exact message. Making sure you have the best of what others already have, or performing at an ‘equal to or greater than’ expectation does not support our belief of being different. It would seem that our societal expectations have come so far from basic values. Values instilled in us at the earliest developmental stages of our lives; to be special.

Today’s role models no longer wear capes, teach us every day or even buy us our favorite cereal on the weekly grocery trip. Instead, we find ourselves looking up to individuals that wear limited clothing, promote unhealthy challenges on social media and endorse illegal substances. These scenarios are suggestive of the new “super powers” that society is envious of. It leads to the question of what do today’s current role models value and how do they promote these values?

By definition a Super power is: “A state with a dominant position characterized by its extensive ability to exert influence or project power on a global scale” (Wikipedia, 2019). Any individual with the ability to persuade or motivate others can be a super power. Individuals that are by nature different than what is observed in the mainstream of social media can be more influential because that individual represents more of “normal” than the photo shopped individuals advertised. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports nearly 1 out of every 7 people in the world are disabled (Silberner, 2011). Any one with any sort of defining different physical features, disability or special need deserves to have role models as much as anyone. The best role models are those that are relatable and motivate those that look up to them regardless of the odds they have overcame. Those experiences only make their power stronger and legitimate to the ones watching. Relatability is an immense super power in itself. To be able to relate to an individual that you hold at an esteemed level can make that individual and their attributes feel more attainable to the average person, no matter the background.

Every person needs someone to look up to. Different individuals possess the attributes that represent parts of their admirers. Each admirer has something that is just as significant as the role models they look up to. The biggest challenge in life is to be the best you. Being you is your superpower. You may represent the very characteristic that an admirer needs to give them motivation. Someone may look at you and feel compelled to carry on, get over that hump or take a chance on something. You are your own biggest resource and can be that same resource to others that need your strength. Commonly we find we want to change ourselves to be more like others, instead explore how we can utilize the attributes we obtain to motivate others. Look at areas of your life that you are dissatisfied with. If you looked at those areas as strengths instead, how would that change your outlook on life? You are enough. You can harness your skills to be relatable, admired, and influential by just being you. Others in this world need you to show them how they are enough as well.

You are your own superpower.

Resources

Silberner, J. (2011, June 9). Nearly 1 in 7 People on Earth is Disabled, Survey Finds. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2011/06/09/137084239/nearly-1-in-7-people-on-earth-are-disabled-survey-finds

Wikipedia. (2019, March 24). Superpower. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superpower


July 2109

Diffusing Co-Dependency

Diffusing Co-Dependency

Lucy ParkerProfessor of Counseling

After sighing with one breath, processing a few tears tonight, and gulping down a portion of baked Cheetos, and a Diet Cherry Coke, I now realize “writing about one of my largest vulnerabilities is something I need and can do…” About a week ago, a dear friend and colleague, as well as leader in the Vitiligo community asked me to write about how I have coped with my imperfection of acting co-dependent at times. After talking often with Andre about this, he asked if I had any tips for others. First, let me express, I love writing, however, when asked to write this piece, I hesitated. Despite my vulnerabilities and anxiety, I agreed and am now hoping all of you readers will take a moment to peruse this column if you have ever identified as lack self-love or being in a less than healthy relationship…

On the surface, my name is Dr. Lucy Parker and I am licensed counselor, counselor educator, professor, and counseling researcher. With my status, I have expertise in a field devoted to human behavior. However, as I share about this article, please remember, I, too, am not immune to my own interpersonal and intrapersonal struggles. From a distance, people may or may not assume, I am a high achieving, physically somewhat healthy, short, Caucasian blonde lady who “has it all together [or not].”

Given my outward appearance and varying intersections of unearned privilege, I note that I do not fully and first-hand understand the life of a person Vitiligo Community. However, I believe I am accepted by the beautiful Vitiligo Community as I am a strong advocate and ally! Part of my advocacy entails voting for policies and legislation that will better help this Community. Another part of my advocacy includes always being open learning myself as well as, teaching my clients and students to be aware of this Community and the beauty of diversity and diverse communities, holistically. Thus, though I do not have Vitiligo, I would like to share my “two cents” with you about co-dependency as this is a human condition many in the community or allies of this community may relate to, similarly, as my allied self 😊

As you may be thinking then… what is co-dependency? Co-dependency is often termed as relationship addiction (MHA, 2019) The source of this information and additional resources can be found at Mental Health America online. if this is something interesting to you is. Co-dependency is in other words termed as, deeming another person more worthy of our own identify, life, and love than, ourselves. If any of these connect to you, please, please, please don’t shame yourself and know you are NOT alone. Remember there is help and support. You can learn more at Codependency No More online with their various resources including coaching, podcasts, books, and more.

When I think innately about co-dependency I recall a phrase expressed by Dr. Bryan Stevenson which is “I do what I do because I am broken too.” By “broken” I mean (and I believe that Dr. Stevenson means) that we are all imperfectly perfect. Though many self-help books and media of quick solutions exist, I believe that the admission of unconditional self-acceptance of ourselves despite feeling broken or being imperfect, is the only long-term antidote to many of our issues, including co-dependency. Thus, first and foremost, if you, too, share this same beautiful imperfection, please remember to be kind to yourself!

When working with my own counselor in the past, I remember a conversation that love is like a cake. The love we have for ourselves needs to be metaphorically “our batter” and our body is metaphorically “our cake.” Thus, metaphorically, the love we have for our partner only makes our cake sweeter and holistically better- in fact, metaphorically, we are our own cake and perhaps our love for another is our “icing” (i.e. that is unless you don’t like icing, haha…). Thus, in a codependent relationship, we may only have the icing and not the cake. Metaphorically then, when we go to take a bite of icing and no cake, we realize co-dependency or the illusion of the perfect or perfectly dependent relationship is not as memorable or satisfying as the whole cake or a more realistic and less codependent relationship. In other words, we need BOTH the cake and the icing! Just as when baking, we need both cake and icing, we need BOTH love for ourselves and love for our partner if a relationship is to predicted to be long-lasting and healthy!

With all of these resources and my arduous introduction, please REMEMBER, if you struggle with self-love and/or being co-dependent please remember to continue to care for YOU even as the IMPERFECT YOU. In fact, Carl Rogers (pretty much the God of counseling theory) asserted that the connecting puzzle piece and antidote to almost all of our problems including co-dependency is continued self-love (Rogers, 1961). Thus, set today to be a day to love yourself!

Much love to all of you!

Dr. Lucy

June 2019

Unseen Blemishes


Unseen Blemishes: A Commentary on Depressive Effects on those with Vitiligo

Christopher Gonzales Northern Illinois University

We’ve all heard of that child who was picked last for kickball. I’m sure some of those reading this were one of them at some point during their early or later childhood. Maybe we weren’t chosen due to our lack of athletic ability. Perhaps it was the fact that our interests didn’t fit the “norm” of what a child at that point in the development stage was “supposed” to be interested in. However, far too many times, physical characteristics of another individual tend to have a stronger hold on our subconscious that we would like to admit. This author included. We’ve all been susceptible to not following the adage of “Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover”. However, marketing in all its forms stem from countering this well-earned phrase. What is not discussed often, as it relates to the Vitiligo community, are the long term effects of mental well-being, specifically the Quality of Life Component, that many with Vitiligo have to experience from childhood and well into adulthood.


Personal Experience

For a little back story, I am an adopted cis-gender straight male of color who mainly grew up in a Black American household. However, the woman who adopted me, a white female of Polish American descent, suffered with a severe case of Vitiligo. So severe that her pigmentation has now completely disappeared, and has so for the last 30 years. Needless to say, it is of no surprise that circumstance did not sit well with her mental well-being well into adulthood. It first began when she was in her early twenties. However, by the time she was 30, nearly all her pigmentation was gone. It was at this time she had adopted her first child. However, though the vitiligo was not contagious, as many who are unfamiliar with the disease are unaware of, this significantly hindered her ability to be able to do what was prototypically standard for most mothers to do with their new child. Meaning, playing it the park, going to the zoo, sitting on the beach, strolls on walking paths devoid of shade, and any other outdoor events for long periods of time that were significantly shorter than the majority of mothers who did not suffer with the affliction. Though I was too young to be aware of the effects on her mental state, it was later revealed to me how much of a difficult time she had raising, which would become, a total of 4 children. As this scenario relates to the mental health component, think for a moment how bad you might have felt if you were unable to participate in your favorite activities you take part in now. The reality that you no longer can enjoy some of the things you used to that gave you joy, happiness, and sense of meaning. That can be a common theme for many within the Vitiligo community.


Objective Perspective of Vitiligo Experience

The cause of Vitiligo is still a mystery to many physicians. Though there have been a number of studies done that show that genetics, stress, auto-immune diseases and other mitigating factors can have an impact on the 1% of people are who afflicted by it, there is no consensus for why this occurs. That in turn can lead to many individuals to fall into a deep depression, or at least have their quality of life experience hindered, knowing that very little can be done to reverse said disease. A good comparison would be to know that a problem exists regarding a home repair. If you were to walk in your home and smell mold, you know that there is a water leak or moisture somewhere in the home where it shouldn’t be that has cause a decay of structure of the home or elements of it. However, if you are unaware of where the cause is coming from, or why, “fixing” the issue can be mentally, and financially, exhausting. The same can go for those suffering with Vitiligo. When one does not know what causes it for those that wish to have it reversed, or at least stopped, the sense of helplessness can come over an individual quickly. Especially if the circumstances have led to bullying, isolation, self-esteem issues, body dysmorphia, and, at times, suicidal ideation.

May 2019