What’s up with the Superman symbol? Is he your favorite superhero or something? How many Superman shirts do you own? Why do you include the logo at the bottom of each of your posts? I’m sure there are other questions as well, but these are never spoken, at least not directly to me. Does he think he’s Superman? Is he really that self-absorbed. I encounter these questions–both explicitly and implicitly–all the time, and I don’t always have or share a ready answer. It’s kinda hard to explain.
It began simply enough. In my second year of teaching at Royal Middle School two of my students, Annie Meseberg and Kayla Robbins, asked for help, and I whimsically replied, hands on hips, “Super Syrie’s here to save the day!” And it stuck. For better or worse, sometimes only in my own mind, I became Super Syrie, a classroom superman ready to help students in a single bound. Clad, then, in cape, I continued my career assuming a persona that hasn’t always been a blessing, for super heroes are held to high standards, the highest perhaps being the ones that they set for themselves. I have not always met the standard.
By luck or design, Super Syrie followed me to Cheney in 2003. I wondered for a time if he would fade into the sunset after I left Royal, perhaps secretly hoping I could escape the cape’s pressure and just be Simple Syrie, but my students at Cheney, just as my students at Royal, needed help and Super stayed. The cape wasn’t going anywhere.
You see, it’s not that I think I am Superman, it’s that I believe I have to be Superman. I have to be super. I cannot be any less. The job is too important, the stakes too high. I have to be super for the kids, even when I don’t want to be. Yes, some days, many days, I want only to be Simple Syrie and leave the cape at home, for I don’t really have any superpowers and the facade is heavy at times. But every day, ready or not, I show up for duty and try to be super. The shirts? I have 10, last count. Why do I wear them? I wear them on the days that I don’t want to be super, so I put them on to remind me that I have to be. The same with the logo at the bottom of my posts. A reminder not of who I am, but rather who I am trying to be.
Fortunately, I am not alone. I am surrounded by super men and super women who, too, don their capes each day as they set out to save the world, even when they don’t want to. And I believe, together, perhaps one day we will save the world. We have to.
So that’s it. In the end, that’s why. It’s not to air my arrogance. Really, it’s to shield my insecurity.
Have a super Friday, all. I have a shirt to pick out.