Illustration by Alia Wilhelm.

Dear Rookies,

First of all: Calling all Rookies of Japan! You may know that the first two books in the Rookie Yearbook series have been translated to Japanese, but we’ve never had the chance to celebrate them with you. So, I’m doing a reading, Q&A, and signing, this Saturday, April 7, 6 PM, at the Aoyama Book Center. I CAN’T WAIT! Be sure to get your tickets ahead of time at this link, and see you so soon, finally!

And now: April’s theme is Superpower, during which we’ll celebrate our favorite superheroes (from fiction and from life), and discuss the human equivalents of superhuman abilities. Here, for example, are my own definitions of such powers, all of which I am trying to get better at allllll the time.

Regenerative Healing: A la pregnant bodies forgetting the pain of childbirth so that humans will continue to reproduce, Regenerative Healing is when you are really good at moving on from stuff! And at approaching the next experience with fresh eyes. See also: forgetting the pain of heartbreak so that you have the wherewithal to one day love again.
Invisibility: Typically used to describe characters in teen movies who have no friends, Invisibility is actually a very strong asset. Sometimes you’re not in the mood to be social, or you just want to observe. However, getting too comfortable with Invisibility can also shut you off to surprises, intimacy, and new experiences…all of which I regularly avoid, so who am I to police your superpowers!
Time Travel: This is when you have such a strong memory that you’re both really good with trivia and retaining quotes and shit but you also live in your memories, or fixate on something someone said one time, or hold grudges, or are too hard on yourself about past mistakes. Time Travel can also go the other way: You can be so good at visualizing the future that you get too attached to expectations, OR—this is the super part—you are able to clearly visualize what you want, and work towards it. Like The Secret, but with the intention of actually doing something.
Adaptation: This is the ability to quickly accommodate other people, or to get comfortable in new situations, or to let yourself change. There is a whole movie about this called…ADAPTATION, and it’s one of my very favorites.
Supernatural Strength or Invulnerability: This is when you can easily armor yourself against pain, which can both protect and harden you. I wrote about this some in “How to Not Care What Other People Think About You.” Jamia Wilson wrote about why having a thick skin isn’t always healthy, or realistic, in “Elephants Can Forget.
X-Ray Vision: The ability to see through people or read their minds can be a tool of both judgment and compassion. When is it necessary to be skeptical, and when should you just take people at face value? How do you break out of a dynamic where you are always expected to read someone’s mind (or them, yours)? How do you learn compassion towards someone who seems undeserving of anything but anger or resentment? I don’t have the answers, but I do know that when someone has made me upset, I imagine their middle school yearbook photo, and it instantly helps me gain some form of compassion, or at least shows me they’re human.
Shapeshifting: Similar to Adaptation, Shapeshifting is the ability to transform yourself to match different circumstances. Sometimes this feels like fakery, but we all contain multitudes, and it would be really weird if you talked to your best friend the same way you did a college admissions officer. You might even shapeshift among different friends, but that makes sense, too, as long as you don’t feel like you’re censoring yourself! Everyone is entitled to the time and space to figure out where, how, and with whom they feel most themselves. Also, sometimes it’s generous to shapeshift. Like it would be really weird if, when my grandmother was alive, I’d visited her and been like, “I know you’re 98 and losing your faculties and just want to feel some semblance of love, but HERE’S WHAT MY PERSONALITY IS LIKE THESE DAYS!!!” That would’ve been like…a terrible one-woman show.
Flying: Ah yes, the ability to let go and take risks and act recklessly! (I’m not too practiced in this area.)

Share your own definitions with us by checking out the Submit page! We want to see your writing, photography, illustration, collage, and other superhuman achievements.

And, if you’re in or around Tokyo, see you this Saturday!