I spent half of the summer holidays in New Hampshire to help my best friend organize her wedding and to attend the ceremony. Her (now) husband is a fan of comics and writes articles about superheroes; it was expected, then, that the topic should pop in conversation. They said the X-men they identified with the most where Professor Xavier (for him) and Jean Grey (for her), and went on explaining that I probably would be Rogue. I was not entirely sure how I felt about it – I do not know X-Men well enough to say, though I do remember liking her character very much in the films and cartoons.
Yet, there was something unsettling about being compared to Rogue, as her power is to steal people’s memories and abilities, which often results in her unwillingly hurting them, even the ones who she loves dearly. But then again, I did not spend too much time trying to figure out the meaning behind it all – I get why they picked her for me and why they identified with Xavier and Jean, and as much as I enjoyed watching the X-Men cartoons as a young teenager, they are not my superheroes – I did not grow up with them.
My heroes, as a child, young teen and today, usually came from Manga and Anime and the one great heroic inspirations of my life were the Sailor Scouts in the Sailor Moon series, which I watched religiously every week after school, collected images and drew pictures of whenever I had the chance.
I think I liked the idea that at the end of the day, they were just girls living normal lives (well, as normal as it gets when you transform into a magical girl and fight evil haha) and fighting for ideals that spoke to me: kindness, friendship, love, understanding… They were protecting people’s souls, hearts and dreams from creeping fears and doubts. Of course, there is something quite cheesy about it – I suppose there is naivety too in it, but as a child, watching my favourite character, Chibiusa, turn evil because she thought she was worthless and that no one had ever loved her and then finding the inner strength to go back to her former self affected me deeply. Because I, too, was a little girl, and I, too, doubted my value every day. Because these girls were not only Superheroes when they were dressed as Sailor Scouts fighting villains; they were heroes in that they never gave up on their ideals and their friends.
The lessons that I learnt watching Sailor Moon helped me become who I am, and who I am still working on being today. And sometimes, something happens that validates my belief in the power of forgiveness, friendship, love and understanding. I have had students who struggled with mental illness, or with lack of motivation to go on studying, and even living. There was not much I could do to help them, but I did my best, never stopped believing in them and encouraged them, trusted them and gave them whatever support I could offer without trespassing the limits of a student-teacher relationship. These same students later sent me notes telling me that I had changed their lives and helped them find the strength to carry on. It makes me happy, not for me – I do not do the things I do to get any sort of social recognition – but for them. And in these rare moments, I, too, feel like I have become a Sailor Scout, and my own humble kind of superhero.