So, what I want you to do is a simple thinking exercise. It’s free, anyone can do it. What you need to do is pick a character that you love — something from your childhood always works, but you can also use something that you’re really resonating with now.
And before we continue, I want you to know that I’m using comic book characters, but, because this is different for everyone, you can use any character from any medium that you feel comfortable with, including history and even mythology.
So, who do I love? Well, I love Quentin Quire, the Kid Omega. For those of who are unfamiliar with him, he is a rebellious, teenage X-Man with a pink mohawk and an anti-establishment attitude to match. He is a high-level telepath, with a variety of psychic skills, and I feel like, among the X-Men, he’s really the embodiment of chaotic good.
And I find a lot of striking similarities between us. I mean, we both have the power to suddenly influence large groups of people. Me, through my show. And we’re both very resistant to psychic manipulations. I hate commercials. Turn off your televisions.
And we also both challenge the status quo, especially among our own kind. I mean, one time Quentin Quire staged a riot, he incited a riot at an Open House day at his school, the Xavier’s School for Gifted Mutants, ruined the whole deal — I mean, they were trying to make good with the humans.
Everybody was bummed about it. And at the end, after his rebellion was put down, Professor X came up to him, and they asked him, “Why did you do this?”
And Quentin said to him, “You’ve always encouraged us to dream, sir, but I just wondered what would you think if we dreamed something you didn’t like.”
And that’s a question that I found myself wondering. From an even higher perspective, I feel like Kid Omega is really an avatar for the intellectually gifted — and I know a lot of you TED people out there might know what I’m talking about — and deals with a lot of the same issues that we do.
For example, feeling like an outsider among outsiders, and, as I said, constantly questioning existing power structures, and are they right?
Even more, having a hard time dealing with certain social situations and getting into trouble in certain social situations. In second grade, I experienced a socially traumatic incident that I’d like to share with you.
For reasons that I will never understand, my teacher asked all the children who believed in Santa Claus to go to one side of the room, and all the children who didn’t believe in Santa Claus to go to the other side of the room.
And previously, I had deduced that Santa Claus was not real through a comparative handwriting analysis of my father’s handwriting and Santa’s, and also, Santa left boot prints in the snow that matched my father’s shoe size. So, I wasn’t buying it.
And I finally had the chance to share my truth with my classmates. I was really excited because I wanted to — I didn’t want them to live a lie, and I didn’t want them to feel stupid when they figured out that Santa Claus wasn’t real.
So I was hotly debating it with myself: “Do I go to Santa Claus’s side? Do I take a stand? I don’t know what I’m going to do.”
I was really nervous, really excited. I waited till the end, and I took a stand. I decided to go to the other side of the room. I was the only one.
And in that moment, I realized that I had made a huge mistake. I was immediately ostracized. I was told I was a witch who believed in talking doors because I do not believe in Santa Claus. Who’s laughing now?
And reading about Quentin Quire has really helped me to appreciate those traumatic experiences. It helps me to appreciate how “punk rock” I was in second grade. I was anti-establishment before I even knew what anti-establishment was.
Looking back, I feel really proud of myself that I took a stand. And even though I caught a ton of shit for it, if I could go back and do things all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing.
Because reading about Kid Omega has really helped me learn how to love myself better. Because if I love Kid Omega, and I identify with Kid Omega, well then, I have to kind of love myself by default.
So, if you think that comparing yourself to characters that you love is a really fun way and interesting way to learn more about yourself and embrace your true self, you may be interested to learn that you can also do this with characters that you hate.
Because as Carl Jung said: “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” An axiom which is very uncomfortable and entirely true.
So, who do I hate? I’ve got beef with Peter Parker. Notice that I said Peter Parker and not Spider-Man. Because, in my book, Spider-Man is all good. He has a cool costume, he is a web slinger around New York, he’s cracking jokes, taking down bad guys, he’s making out with Black Cat on the rooftops. I mean, he’s got it going on.
But, in comparison, his life as Peter Parker totally sucks. He can’t pay his rent on time, he’s constantly worrying about his bills, he can’t keep a job, he’s constantly disappointing his friends and family because he doesn’t spend enough time with them.