What’s YOUR Superpower?

I’m off on a frolic some evenings, writing a historical mystery series set in the Regency. My main protagonist is Lady Violet, a widow of means with a penchant for getting into trouble. I’m only into the second book, so Violet and I are just getting to know each other, and the first things to strike me are some of her weaknesses. She’s working on a case of agoraphobia, for example. She’s also a little OCD about some things, which can make her a pain in the behonkis as well as a good investigator.

I’m trundling down this path in part because I enjoy reading historical mysteries. Captain Gabriel Lacey is my book boyfriend, Thomas and Charlotte Pitt scratch my Victorian itch, Charles Lenox scratches my other Victorian itch, and, and, and… If you like historical mysteries too, you’ve probably come across C.S. Harris’s Sebastian St. Cyr Regency mystery series. (Has smoochin’ in it!)

From the first book, Sebastian exhibits a combination of traits that make him well suited to sleuthing. He has very quick reflexes, astonishingly keen hearing, and excellent vision particularly in low light. His eyes are golden, and highly sensitive to light. Madam Author very, very cleverly gave her protagonist superpowers before they were popular by conferring upon him a case of Bithil’s syndrome. This is a genetic mutation found in some Welsh family lines, and the author’s daughter has a particularly robust form of the symptoms.

From a plotting perspective, Sebastian’s superpowers get him into and out of trouble. He hears things he’s not supposed to, sees things others can’t discern, and gets the side-eye when he’s trying to fit in. Like a lot of people with superpowers, he didn’t realize he was different until later in childhood, and the moment stands out in his mind.

Which of course led me to a question: Do I have a superpower? (Other than the ability to make good dark chocolate disappear.)

I think I do, though it’s hard to describe. I can yeah-but anything. You tell me God once destroyed the earth with a Great Flood and I will come back with, “Very sad business, but we got the rainbow out of that deal, and Mr. and Mrs. Noah had a ton (literally) of fertilizer ready to go when it was time to start over, and I bet they got some quality couple time in during those forty nights…”

You tell me being fat is unhealthy and I will tell you that as body mass index increases, the use of antidepressants goes down as does the rate of successful suicides. The two-party system can lead to power swings and entrenched conflict but the multi-party system can result in a minority calling the shots. I have always had this ability to think in dichotomies and counter-examples. As a kid it got me in trouble. As an attorney, it got me a lot of results for my clients.

I believe everybody has superpowers, and that those qualities are usually part blessing and part burden. I still have to figure out what Lady Violet’s superpower is, but I’m also interested in YOUR superpower. Do you have one? More than one? Is it a mixed blessing or purely a boon? To one commenter, I’ll send a $50 Amazon e-gift card.

PS: If one of your superpowers is reviewing books, and you’d like an advanced reader file for A Lady of True Distinction, please email me at graceburrowes@yahoo.com.

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27 comments on “What’s YOUR Superpower?

  1. 1
    Marianne says:

    Our son can also “yeah, but” anything. At length. It’s currently driving me to unhealthy coping mechanisms, including reading too much.

    My super-power growing up was untangling gold chains. I was given all the knotted jewelry in my dad’s drugstore to sort out.

    Now it’s, “Can you find me a….” I like being helpful, but it can be time-consuming.

    • 1.1
      Grace Burrowes says:

      That business of unknotting chains really is a gift. One of my sisters-in-law has it. She knows just how to roll the chain, when to push, when to tug…takes patience.
      And some fine day, you will be proud that you taught that kid to think for himself. Too many of us are in zombie mode too much of the time.

  2. 2
    Mary T says:

    Well, I don’t know. I can touch my nose with my tongue, but I have always thought of that as a useless talent rather than a superpower (smile).

    • 2.1
      Grace Burrowes says:

      But I bet you’ve started a few icebreaker discussion with it. Then the talk moves to who can wiggle their earlobes, and who can curl their tongue… and pretty soon, everybody’s laughing.

  3. 3
    Make Kay says:

    Wow. What a thought-provoking question this week! And my superpower is…
    Being able to power through large amounts of stuff, no matter how awful or prolonged. It’s a blessing because I can accomplish things.
    It’s a curse because, in order to do so, I shove down all my emotions about it into a little box and slam the lid closed. Not healthy. And not good for relationships, where sharing is key.
    I took a test once about what what skills I could bring to my church, and found I tested high as A Martyr. Meaning I could power through awful things. Yay, me? I’d rather not be eaten by lions!

    • 3.1
      Grace Burrowes says:

      What an interesting insight. I think I have a martyr mode–I can make myself do bookkeeping, for example–but as you say, I’m holding my nose the whole time and muttering about growing up being over-rated. And no, I don’t fancy being cat food either.

  4. 4
    Teenie Marie says:

    My Super Power has been developed over time but I still think its a Super Power!

    I’m detail oriented and I can anticipate…..stuff. I think this comes from having a child (he’s an adult now) with autism. I have had to control and adapt his environment so he can function. And anticipate trouble before it happens. Most of the time, I’m right on task but occasionally, I boof.

    I’ve brought that skill, not purposely, into the rest of my life. I don’t even realize I’m doing it any longer. 🙂

    • 4.1
      Grace Burrowes says:

      I call this Critical Path Management. You can see the path from point A to point B, you know which trees are likely to fall, which rocks are likely to slide, and you can nimble your way through. Part experience, part ninja.
      Interesting that you attribute this to raising your son rather than to a gift you and he might share, but in different forms. You can take the correction action part more agilely than he can, but he probably has pretty good radar like his mom.

  5. 5
    Tina Ann Armato says:

    My superpower is stubbornness! I inherited the trait from my Dad who was notoriously set on doing things his way. On the negative side, I’m difficult to win an argument with. On the positive side, I am a perfectionist, and turn out quality products, whether it is a gourmet meal for 30 people or a business presentation (I’m a retired graphic designer). I’m too stubborn to give up in the face of adversity! My husband always says he is glad that we are on the same side (usually! LOL!).

    • 5.1
      Grace Burrowes says:

      You put me in mind of the all teaching research done lately on the quality of “grit,” or sticking with a job until it’s done right. When THAT character trait is reinforced, more kids graduate than when “getting a passing grade” is reinforced. I don’t think of myself as stubborn (though I am according to my family). I think of myself as tenacious and determined.

  6. 6
    Susan G says:

    I am a problem solver; I listen, research and resolve. That’s my job description & my super power.

    Listening— taking the time to hear & understand someone is a strength.
    And it’s easy to do at home too whether it’s tea and cookies or wine crackers and cheese

    It shows people you care.

    • 6.1
      Grace Burrowes says:

      Boy, what you said. Listening–truly taking the time to understand and empathize–is a superpower and it’s not something we typically teach. We learn it by example or in the breach (when we need it and it’s not available). Very insightful comment, Sue!

  7. 7
    Ona says:

    I am a synesthete. Every letter and numeral is powerfully associated with a color (except 0, 1, I, and O, which absorb the colors of the letters or numerals around them in words or numbers). Months and days of the week are also powerfully associated with a color. None of my siblings have synesthesia, and neither do my parents. And my maternal grandparents didn’t either. I didn’t get to ask my paternal grandparents because they were gone before I knew I was different, but based on the way my paternal grandfather’s memory worked and the associations he made between seemingly random things, I think he probably did. I guess between 1-4% of the population has some kind of synesthesia, with the letter/color association being the most common. Researchers speculate the condition is positively correlated with creativity and certain kinds of intelligence. I’m not sure that holds in my case.

    The research also says syntesthetes are more aware of subtle variation in color. I think that may be true in my case. Only a very precise shade of yellow will trigger “A” in my head (whereas all “Aa” triggers that yellow)…but I don’t know for sure that I’m extra sensitive to color gradations. I’m not a visual artist, and my husband who is not a synesthete but is a filmmaker is at least as attuned to color as I am, probably more. I also have an impressive verbal memory. But then so do my mother and sister who aren’t syntesthetes. And I have mild dyscalculia—so much for being good at math! Pretty good at remembering addresses and phone numbers though.

    I think more than anything the condition has given me an appreciation of the immense neurodiversity in the world, which in turn has given me some empathy for folks who process the world in radically different ways than I do.

    • 7.1
      Grace Burrowes says:

      I never knew this about you! It makes me ask the question, “If this pops up a fairly reliable portion of the time–from one to four times in every hundred people–that means most neighborhoods have someone with this capability. How is it adaptive? How does it really show up as superpower–because it must.
      Somebody figured out that people who are colorblind often have a lot more eyeball apparatus devoted to detecting movement. If I was Og Burrowes, waiting in the bushes with my spear for dinner to happen by, the ability to detect a clump of grass stirring twenty yards off could be the difference between supper and no supper.
      So too, this synesthesia must adaptive. Hmmmm.

      • 7.1.1
        Ona says:

        The thought is that because different and more parts of the synesthete’s brain are wired together than is usual for most folks, we are creative in ways others may not be, and our memories may work differently too. I am not entirely sure this is true in my case, but that could be because I come from -ahem- a family of fabulously creative people with impressive memories. But I may have a memory that beats most folks I know—at least in some things. Anything associated with a number or letters (which is a lot of stuff) gets etched in my brain in color too. So I have double the neural pathways laid down to call it up—or something like that. Certainly doesn’t mean I remember everything. And I’m hopeless with tunes without lyrics or finding my way back to someplace I’ve been? I’m hopeless. Possibly because those things trigger no synesthetic experience for me.

  8. 8
    Margaret says:

    Do I have a Super Power? MAYBE!
    I seem to have a strong “common sense”. I see possibilities that others don’t seem to recognize about politics and people’s action etc.and the consequences of actions on such thinking.
    It may come from trying to figure out why people behave as they do and think the way they do from high school days and maybe younger.

    It’s what like what you describe about your handling of your law cases.

    • 8.1
      Grace Burrowes says:

      A really good therapist once said to me, “Nobody ever explained much of anything to you growing up, did they?” I thought back… to my older brother teaching me how to tie my shoe. That was such a signal memory, because it was so rare. The result was I am wary of anybody presenting themselves as an authority, but like you… I figure stuff out for myself.

  9. 9
    Laura says:

    I’m not sure if it is a Super Power, but I almost always know what time it is, even in the dead of night.

    I don’t know how I know, but I do. So if my husband and I happen to be awake at the same time in the middle of the night, he will ask me for the time. I’ll say 3:42 am, and it is.

    I remember once being at a dinner with my daughter’s friends after she started a new job, and someone asked what the time was. She looked at me, and I said 7:37 pm. Someone checked, and it was. My daughter sort of rolled her eyes, and told our table mates that her mother “just knew”.

    I don’t always trust myself, so I do check on my phone when timing is really important, but this is just who I am.

    Weird, huh?

    • 9.1
      Grace Burrowes says:

      Very unusual, but I wonder if it’s something we all used to have, but in you, the trait still works. I have a good sense of direction (not infallible, but good), and I refuse to use GPS. My daughter, on the other hand, can’t navigate out of a paper bag without her GPS. She lived in Denver for years and could not get it into her head that the mountains were WEST and away from the mountains had to be EAST.
      The compass rose made no practical sense to her. She’s sharp as a tack, intuitive as heck, but a sense of direction is simply not in her gift.

  10. 10
    Elizabeth Thorson says:

    Sleeping. No, really, I can sleep anywhere under any conditions. Since I like to travel, this is a great thing when others can’t sleep because the clock ticks wrong. Last year I took a nap in a minivan driving on crazy roads through the Republic of Georgia, with 16 other people and a TV playing Russian music videos at full volume.

    • 10.1
      Grace Burrowes says:

      That IS a super-power, and a very good one to have. The older I get the more dependent I am on a good night’s sleep–every night. If the full moon comes along, and I have a lousy night, it often takes me three days to get straightened out.
      So I envy you!

  11. 11
    Sarah says:

    I have some of the Mom super powers. Hugs that make things better and a high tolerance for being the shoulder that is being cried on when a hug isn’t enough. Knowing the tells when my kids are lying and a little of the eyes on the back of my head too.

    I make excellent vegan chocolate truffles. I have a very good sense of smell, which I generally count as a curse. And maybe the most powerful is my ability to say no, I’ve gotten very good at a hard no.

    • 11.1
      Grace Burrowes says:

      Saying no is a super-power for sure, especially a hard no.
      One of my sisters-in-law has a very special hug. She’s a quiet presence generally, with a soft voice, but when she hugs you, it’s like the negatively charged ions dissipate or something. She’s 100 percent present to the hug. Lovely quality!

  12. 12
    Glenda M says:

    I’ve always been pretty good at the “yeah, but” though not nearly as good as my daughter. Lots of times I do it to get people to take a look at another point of view. I want people to slow down and look at the reasoning behind other peoples beliefs and actions before blindly attacking those beliefs. At the same time, I have developed the superpower of just letting people vent and voice their opinions while I am at work – biting my tongue has become a complete super power of mine so that I don’t lose my job in retail.

    • 12.1
      Grace Burrowes says:

      I think everybody should work retail at some point. The world and the marketplace would be much kinder if we all walked a mile in the sales clerk’s shoes. I also think the grocery check out job should be on the life agenda. EVERYBODY needs food, and most of us get it at the grocery store.
      The ability to get people to THINK, to take another look at their personal truths, is such a gift. It takes timing, skill, humor,and genuine caring. Truly a super-power.

  13. 13
    Eydie Barrett says:

    My super power is facilitating for others. It has not really been a persoal asset inmany cercumstances, but affords me the opportunity to move others along in hopefullya better direction. It gives me great pleasure to engage my friends and loved ones.

    • 13.1
      Grace Burrowes says:

      Eydie, I hope that you save some of that facilitating and boosting and cheerleading for yourself. Or that all the people who benefit from your support and kindness remember to pay it backward and forward. It’s lovely to boost other people (fastest way I know to restore my own sense of equilibrium is to do something nice for somebody else), but you deserve the same flag-waving!