How the Fastest Man Alive Awakened the Superhero in All of Us

The Flash, played by Grant Gustin in CW’s “The Flash”

In the blink of an eye, the Fastest Man Alive became more than an animated superhero in DC Entertainment’s comic book and animated universe. “The Flash”, the CW’s newest superhero drama, mid-season finale topped out at 4.54 million viewers, instantly catapulting the superhero “The Flash” from a “Justice League” afterthought to an emerging household superhero name. The television show explores the origin and growth of Barry Allen as the Flash; after the murder of his mother, Barry lost his father and was adopted by a new family. Without spoiling too many details of the show, Barry undergoes trials of attaining super speed, saving his hometown Central City, juggling life with a secret identity, romance, and facing new villains, all while uncovering the truth behind his mother’s murder.

The growth from average Central City citizen to the Flash is a coming of age story that many Millennials can relate to. While we may not all have lost our parents, been adopted by a foster family, attained super speed or fought crime, we all have encountered or will encounter an “Aha” moment which will ultimately change our lives. This “Aha” moment may be the discovery of your passion in life, a realization about the career you should pursue, the finding of your soul mate, or other instances of self-realization. These “Aha” moments ultimately will change your life for better or worse. Barry Allen was endowed with super speed, and with that speed he realized he could use it to save others, his loved ones, and citizens of Central City. His “Aha” moment occurred when he made an active choice to become a superhero and use his powers to protect and save others from villains. The “Aha” moments described above invigorate us because we finally feel that our lives have purpose and meaning, and we can change the course of our lives.

The Flash (left) with Green Arrow (right)

Many Millennials believe they can achieve success and happiness on their own terms, and by themselves. Barry began his journey as superhero believing he alone could overcome all obstacles in his way. Though he had a team that would look after him and identify criminals, Barry was quick to dismiss their help. Evident in the crossover episode with CW’s other superhero drama “Arrow”, Barry was weary of accepting advice and help from Green Arrow, another superhero with experience in fighting crime. After trial and error with fighting criminals, Barry ultimately realizes he needs his team to succeed.

I would be remiss not to say that I, like many others, believed I could achieve success by myself. I have taken family, friends, coworkers and others throughout my life for granted, since I thought I alone had all the tools to succeed.

“What could they understand about my life?”
“They haven’t done what I am doing.”
“No one else understands what I have to do to succeed.”

I also allowed my ego to get the best of me, thinking that I would look better if I achieved success without anyone’s help. Others would envy me for being able to be successful without the help of others. People would want to be me.

Fallen Flash

Misfires in my leadership, interviews, internships and school showed me how wrong I was to think that I could do everything and be a success on my own. Rejections from jobs, mistakes at work, and disenchanted members in student organizations were my villains that beat me, and I had fallen.

I don’t believe I’m going out on a limb when I say that many people in my generation have believed they alone will achieve greatness without the aid of others. I believe many of you have said some variation of the above quotes in your heads, and thought you could do it all. Not even super speed could keep Barry Allen from falling and failing. Sure, Barry could run from all the problems in the world, just as you can as soon as adversity comes your way. Superheroes may initially have an inflated sense of worth and an ego larger than 10 people combined, but they are vulnerable, and even super powers cannot save them from that ego.

If at this point, you’re reading this article and saying, “This has never happened to me, Arjav stop pushing this 3rd grade superhero nonsense on me and stop crying about your mistakes!”, to that I ask you to close your eyes and consider a time when you desperately sought after something. A time when you had one goal in mind, and you would let nothing stop you from achieving that goal. You allowed that goal to consume you, and anytime someone questioned your pursuit of that goal, you shut them away. Some were legitimate doubters, while others were concerned for your well being. Some tried to help, but you believed they were holding you back.

You thought to yourself: “I’m doing this alone.”

You thought to yourself: “They don’t have the power to help me”

You thought to yourself: “This is my life, my destiny.”

You thought to yourself: “After this, people will praise me.”

Reverse Flash (Top) vs. the Flash (Bottom)

As much praise as the Flash earns for his daring rescues and criminal defeats, he still has much to learn about his true capabilities. As much praise as us Millennials receive for our trailblazing entrepreneurship and quest for social justice, we are adults with only 20 something years of life and experience under our belt. Barry Allen only had super powers for a year, and in that year he saved hundreds of lives, but fell short when facing his arch nemesis, the Reverse Flash.

In one year, Barry Allen went from average citizen of Central City to renowned superhero the Flash. Known for his iconic red blur of color, citizens of Central City felt hopeful and safe. Barry was at a crossroads when encountering his “Aha” moment, choosing a path of altruism and social justice over an alternative use of his super speed. While we can not time exactly when our “Aha” moment occurs, there are guarantees associated with this “Aha” moment which we should be prepared for when the time comes.

We will have the choice to pursue whatever self realization occurs when we have the “Aha” moment, or ignore this moment of self realization.

We will have the choice to allow others to help us succeed in living out our “Aha” moment, or shut others off from our pursuit.

We will have the choice to accept the responsibilities associated with our “Aha” moment, or run away from them.

We will have the choice to allow the “Aha” moment to change our lives, or continue on the current path we are living on.

Though Barry did not have a choice in being endowed super speed, he had the choice to use his power to help others. Barry had the choice to enlist the help of Dr. Harrison Wells, Cisco, Caitlin, and the Green Arrow to help him protect Central City and realize his full potential.

The Flash

Your “Aha” moment may come today, or it may come in 10 years. It may be found in your hometown or across the world. Just know, there will be a new level of responsibility upon you when you have your moment of self realization. When you finally realize your purpose in life, you instantly have become a superhero. You may not be saving millions of lives, you may not be saving 10 lives. You will have the choice to save one life: Your own.

You have the choice to pursue your path of self realization and maximize your full potential in this world. We may all have started as faceless members in a crowd of thousands, but with an “Aha” moment, we can all become our version of the Flash. You will have supporters that will help you achieve your potential. You will face villains and adversities that will cause you to question that path you are on. You will have an arch nemisis that will follow you down every path, reminding you of what you need to overcome in order to fully be the best version of yourself.

While I cannot tell you what your “Aha” moment will be, I highly believe you can be a superhero. We all are superheros in waiting, awaiting the “Aha” moment so we too can follow a path like the Flash. When you do experience your “Aha” moment, I ask that you listen to the words of the Flash when he says:

Life is locomotion. If you’re not moving, you’re not living. But there comes a time when you've got to stop running away from things and you've got to start running towards something. You've got to forge ahead, keep moving, even if your path isn't lit, trust that you’ll find your way.

The Flash runs on the CW on Tuesdays at 8:00 pm.
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