Ever since I was a child I’ve been a fan of movies, especially superhero movies. All I wanted to be growing up was one of those super heroes I would see in the movies. I’d pray that one day I’d wake up jacked shitless with super human strength or the ability to fly (I know this usually only occurs after some type of spider bite or accident but I used to leave that part out of the equation). With my new superhuman bod I would walk up to my crush and she’d be like “Wow you’re so muscular I want you” and I’d be like “I have a secret but I can’t tell you” and awkwardly walk away to go save the world. This fantasy consumed most of my childhood and if I’m being honest, most of my college days too.
The other day my young cousins, about age 5, were playing a game of pretend superheroes. One was wearing the Captain America mask, the other was wearing an Iron man mask, two of my favorite characters. They asked if I wanted to join them and be a superhero too. The old me would have said “Yes! Absolutely Yes! Give me that mask I’m ironman now! Go ahead and tell on me no one will believe you!” But to my surprise that didn’t happen. Instead, I hesitated and questioned myself. Is being a superhero really what I want?
At this point in my life, I was just starting my career, and was very focused on how to advance. I was working on positioning myself for a long steady career and planning for my future. So in that quick hesitation, I thought did a career as a superhero really fit those requirements I was looking for in a career.
Sure, having superhuman strength sounds great on paper, but the main point of being a hero is everyone wants to kill you. No doubt I can crush any villain that challenges me, but chances are I’ll probably take a pretty serious beating in the process. Every beating brings one thing…hospital bills. Who do you think is going to pay for that? Being a superhero doesn’t have a salary, so unless you’re Tony Stark or Bruce Wayne, you can’t just pay for those expenses out of pocket, so you’re going to need health insurance. Nobody will insure you with the number of times you end up in the hospital, so you’ll need to get a job at a company that provides health insurance.
Then there’s the age old dilemma of a superhero: “What about my future?” That’s right, even superheroes get old, and they need to start planning for that future if they want a comfortable retirement. Without an income though you have no money to put into a 401k and you can definitely forget about the company you don’t work for providing any type of matching or vesting options. So now you’re old, out of work, and broke. Congrats. Hope saving the world was worth it.
So when my cousins asked me if I wanted to be a superhero, I responded the only way my destroyed adult mind knew how:
Me: “You know, now’s not really a good time for me. I have some good benefits, I have a solid 401k and I’m this close to being fully vested.”
They blankly stare at me for a few seconds before running out of the room.
Damn you corporate America.