Life lessons from Flat Stan Lee

A couple weeks ago, Marvel comic book writer Stan Lee died. I didn’t know someone named Stan Lee existed, so when someone told me he died I was like Stanley??? Stanley died? Stanley who? Stanley from the office? Flat Stanley?

Then, my ADHD took over and I proceeded to think about Flat Stanley and I thought it would be funny to create a “Frat Stanley.” So, I went into Snapchat and edited the cover of the “Flat Stanley” book to make him look like he was in a frat. Overall, it was probably a 8.5/10 meme but that is beside the point.

The point is that I didn’t know who Stan Lee was, and more importantly, I wasn’t sure why my feeds were full of people treating him like a god. I mean, all he did was come up with stories and draw stuff…or so I thought.

I went to go see the new Spiderman movie this weekend, and it was dope. The animation was unreal and it was really funny but then at the end, the audience was reminded that “Spiderman could be anyone.” Peter Parker just happened to get bit by that spider, but it really could’ve been anyone.

For the past couple of weeks, many seniors have been hearing back from colleges, hoping to get the opportunity to continue their education at their dream schools.

My connection between college and Spiderman comes in the quote: “with great power comes great responsibility.” Every Spiderman ever, whether it be Tobey Maguire, Tom Holland, or my doppelganger Andrew Garfield, has always had to come to terms with the fact that they had the responsibility to fight crime even when they didn’t want to.

But, this quote goes further. We all hold power in our lives and the lives of others, even if we don’t realize it. While none of us have the power to shoot webs out of our wrists, we all have the power to do incredibly influential things; you don’t get to choose how smart you are or the wealth your family has, but you do get to decide what you do with it.

First off, we have the power to do the things that make us happy. We are all responsible for our own happinesses. We have the power to spend time with the people who we like to be around. This all humans have in common—we try to take what we have, and make the most out of it for ourselves.

The second, more special power, is that we all can change the world around us. Last week, when so many people I knew got in to amazing schools, I realized how blessed we all are for the education we have received so far and will be receiving in the future.

But, like Spiderman was told by his Uncle Ben, this blessing comes with responsibility, too.
We each have been presented with the power to change our own lives and the lives of others, and I think it’s important to keep that in mind as we get decisions back from colleges—the prestige of every college won’t matter if we don’t do anything important with what we get out of our experiences there.

We are the generation that all old people call “the worst ever,” but we are also the generation that has the opportunity to fix all the screwed up things that generations before us have done. We are the ones who will be around during the “catastrophic” climate change, we are the ones who will be alive when the world’s water supply runs out, and we are the ones who will be alive when the amount of plastic in the oceans starts to outnumber the fish.
Higher education gives us knowledge, and knowledge in and of itself is a form of privilege. This privilege can be power too.

Some kid named Stanley taught us that when you somehow survive getting flattened by a bulletin board, you can use your elusiveness to catch thieves. Stan Lee taught us that we can use our powers too, even if they don’t seem that super.