I was an impressionable seven-year-old when Lynda Carter brought Wonder Woman to life. Clad in my bullet-repelling wrist bands and boomerang-esque headpiece made from my mom’s heavy duty aluminum foil, I would sit on the piano bench in the living room flying my invisible plane to destinations unknown. String from the junk drawer served as my golden lasso, and the footstool became every ne’er-do-well known to mankind. At the end of each story, I’d put the criminals away using every superpower I possessed, with my secret identity remaining (remarkably) intact.
Making a landmark return to the big screen this weekend, Gal Gadot beautifully breathed life into this icon we know as Wonder Woman. Curious but true, never before has a female superhero headlined a movie. Early indications suggest that the movie has been well-received by the public. For some, including me, this is not a surprise.
Growing up in a household with a strong, educated woman at the helm, I have always gravitated towards smart women leaders. In a vacuum, these women understand every circumstance, can rise to rise to any challenge, acknowledge the difficulties in life and are able to find a solution despite any undercurrent of fear. Wonder Woman encompasses all of these traits and more, making her the ultimate role model. But, we do not live in a vacuum.
It is easy to get lost in the magic of Hollywood. Bad people are easily identified and brought to justice; love interests arise in uncomplicated situations and without baggage; friendships are constructed with impenetrable armor. Truth is, life is messy, complicated and challenging. Few things go according to plan. One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned as a 40-something is that you cannot control anyone but yourself. And many times I don’t act like Wonder Woman: I am selfish, cranky and introverted. I am imperfect. In a word, I am human.
Because we are human, we are subject to emotion; we are swayed by circumstances; we operate in the gray. Holding the moral compass gets heavy, and lonely. Thinking that our faults are perpetually exposed, we gravitate towards those who are less-flawed, those who make the decisions look easy, those like Wonder Woman. But, Wonder Woman didn’t do what you did today. She didn’t fix the issue with the client; fix lunch; put on the bandaid; tell the bedtime story; fix dinner; pay the bills; talk to the in-laws; talk to the family; talk to your spouse; make a friend laugh. But you did.
You are Wonder Woman.
And your secret is safe with me.