Superpowers are real.

Stuff like:

  • Knowing, really knowing, what you want

  • Related: being able to articulate specifically what you want and pursue it (no, seriously, lots of people struggle with this)

  • Good taste and judgement (in aesthetics, design, art, engineering, people1, words– reading AND writing).

  • Not worrying about stuff you can’t control

  • Being able to coax the right answer out of a search engine

  • Instinctively understanding physical movement2

In my personal experience, most people who have superpowers don’t even realize they have them. They don’t realize how powerful it is. What sort of context it works well in. What they can do with it, if they point their superpowers in the right direction.

For people who haven’t developed the capability but are aware that it exists, the superpower can seem downright magical and like a baked-in character trait that never changes. Something that mere mortals can never hope to learn. If you look at each example superpower above, you can probably think of people who have trouble believing they can really figure out the skill that’s described.

People who have superpowers are usually surprised to hear that they’re anomalously good at whatever it is they do. The typical reply is “Huh? I thought everyone just does that automatically.”

sumo wrestling

“I dunno why everyone thinks sumo wrestling is so hard”

I remember reading somewhere that when you get complimented on something that seems like second-nature to you, it’s a good idea to write the compliment down somewhere. (If you don’t think you get many compliments of this sort, it’s more likely that you actually are getting the compliments and mentally dismissing them as “psh everyone can do that”. It’s less likely that you really aren’t getting any compliments.)

After a while, you look at all the compliments in one go and patterns start popping out at you. Those are probably your superpowers. Even if you don’t see your superpowers yourself, other people who know you well can usually see it clear as day.

They’ll tell you.


1: Have you ever met someone seemed nice, but you felt slightly uncomfortable around them? And later on they turned out to be a not-so-nice person? That’s your intuition talking. It can be surprising how accurate it is for most people! Gavin de Becker talks about learning to trust your danger-instincts in The Gift of Fear.

2: Consider that it’s usually easier to learn to do a somersault if you grew up running around in the forest and picking up rocks than if you neglected sports as a kid, even if in both cases you’re in good shape and have enough flexibility to roll forward properly. The latter will probably get frustrated to no end until they develop some more athleticism and then wonder how they ever found it hard.