I had a retro/sentimental moment yesterday and Youtubed some of the ole Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles television shows from the early 90s. There they were: brainy Donatello and his bo’staff, wacky Michelangelo and his nunchuks, moody Raphael and his sai, all led by the fearless Leonardo and his katanas. As I laid witness to their pizza-eatin’, Shredder-hatin’, Foot Clan-kickin’, throwing star-…er, throwin’ turtle power, I had an epiphany:
the Ninja Turtles represent the different aspects of my psyche.
That’s right. I realized that the characters I grew up identifying with – Spiderman, James Bond, the A-Team, Justice League, Super Friends and the Muppets – was a mistake. I should have seen it all along. I relate most with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
You may be asking: How, James, do you relate with mutated humanoid turtles that were trained martial arts by a mutated rat sensei, live in the sewer, eat anchovy and peanut butter pizzas and fight a baddy who uses the same name as an office tool for destroying paper? Don’t forget their other enemy, an alien brain that pilots a body around from a cockpit in its stomach.
Okay, so some details don’t exactly match, but I’m sure there are some differences between you and your hero. It’s less about the plot of the show and more about the Turtles’ identifying qualities. Let’s break it down:
“The brilliant scientist, inventor, engineer, and technological genius. He is perhaps the least violent Turtle, preferring to use his intellect to solve conflicts.”
Yup, this is the big nerd in me that reads up on NASA’s space programs for kicks, watches MythBusters for other things than the explosions, obsesses over any cool new gadget (thanks, 007) and looks at everything and ponders its origins and existence.
This is also the dork in me that will spend hours over the smallest problem with my computer, entertainment center and anything else with cords and chips.
Most importantly, from moral grounds, Donatello is that strong will inside me that truly believes there is always a nonviolent way towards ending conflict. And I enjoy engineering a way to create that.
“The courageous leader and devoted student of martial arts. As a strict adherent to Bushido, he has a very strong sense of honor and justice.”
This is pretty self-explanatory. James, the name, means “the supplantor”, or: “he who goes before all others.” When times get tricky among friends or family, my extravert comes out and I take the leadership role. I don’t know how it happens, it just does. It can be a heavy burden, but it’s the type of situation where you realize the only person who can do it right, accomplish the goal successfully, is you. This creates the problem of pulling rank over others, making them feel resentful of me as “boss.” This is the point when the power of leadership scares the living shit out of me.
“Raphael has an aggressive nature and seldom hesitates to throw the first punch. He is an intense fighter. His personality can be alternately fierce and sarcastic as well as sensitive and moody. Still, he is intensely loyal to his brothers and sensei.”
The emo Turtle.
Also, the most likely to be bipolar. Raphael is that brooding aggressive center within my personality that’s labeled bipolar. Funny, people assume that my bipolar depression is the same as their regular depression; sad and down on yourself and suicidal. I never experienced that with the bipolar depression, and I know many others experience the same as me. When bipolar sends me to rock bottom, I get all Raphael aggressive. My mind doesn’t think suicidal thoughts, it thinks homicidal thoughts. I get mad at the world and I want to punch it in its face.
When I was a kid, every time I did a TMNT trivia game, “What Ninja Turtle Are You?,” I was ALWAYS Raphael. That should have been a psychiatric red flag. But look, he has redeeming qualities. He’s loyal to the death. He’s like a half-shelled Greek tragedy.
“The easy-going and free-spirited Mikey provides much of the comic relief. While he loves to relax, this Turtle also has an adventurous and creative side.”
Easy-going? Check. Free-spirited? Mmm, check. Comic relief? CHECK. Loves to relax? Triple check. Has an adventurous AND creative side? DING! DING! DING!
Yes, all of these qualities read like a cheesy eHarmony profile, but it nails everything that the other Turtle personalities miss. Aren’t I a catch? (*cue “females swooning” sound effect*)
NOW, each of these Turtles, these groups of personalities, would lose if alone in a fight with the almighty evil Shredder (who obviously represents daily life and overdue bills.) BUT, you get the whole team together, the Teenage Mutant Mental Turtles, and you have a serious ass kicking.
That’s pretty much how I feel lately. Everything inside is working as a team and I’m slicing through daily challenges with the skill only a mutated humanoid turtle trained in martial arts holds. Turtle Power!