Everybody wishes they were a badass. Hell, everybody secretly thinks that hey – hidden, tucked beneath an embarrassing love of the 2003 sequel to Charlie’s Angels and classic 70’s rock hand-me-downs from their mom – they have a swaggering, brassy badass side just waiting to be discovered.
No? Just me? Oh. Well, I wish I was a badass. I’ve spent a pained amount of time aspiring towards true badassery, and twenty-eight years in, sometimes my Badass Light feels the brightest when I just jam out to Katy Perry, with the outward silence of earbuds, sitting at Peet’s Coffee, and write. So I wonder how close I am to realistically achieving that super-secret goal.
Outwardly, I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’ve “curated” an image of badassery, except, spoilers, I totally have. In fifth grade I wrote a ten-year-old’s equivalent of a soliloquy to the KICKASS outfit I’d wear on my first day at a new school, and I don’t know that there’s a single article of clothing I’ve owned since then that I didn’t invest some level of my self-perceived edginess into. And while I’ve finally mastered some level of looking like a fucking badass (emphasis, SO HARD, on the looking like), it’s just the short hair and tattoos and nice clothes. I am a Grade A, undeniable, life-time member of Club Dork.
I can’t say a lot for the intention behind my career trajectory, outside of the fact that I stumbled into it, and that it’s not what I expected when I was eighteen, strutting across the football field with my degree (or, more to the point, what I expected when I did the same thing four years and twenty-six thousand dollars later, five-thousand-miles to the right, in England). But I was out for drinks with an excellent co-worker-gone-friend last night and we admitted, with no shame, that our careers bring out a side of us that otherwise does not (and perhaps would not) exist: the leader. The decision-maker. This afternoon I followed that tack a bit further and can admit this too: my job, and how good I am it, makes me feel like a little bit of a badass.
I spent the last week or so in a funk. A nameless, obnoxious funk that refused to be banished by my tried and true remedies (talking about it to anyone that would listen, haunting my regular haunts with a previously unknown tenacity, cuddling with my doggo and taking him on adventures). But two things happened. One of the part-timers at my store left, a particularly amazing part-timer that is off to USC to become a doctor and save actual lives. And on my last day working with her, she gave me a card that thanked me for, essentially, being me. She wrote that she admired my confidence – she told me I was her style goals! Take that, fifth grade Kathy! – and she made me feel that no matter how many bullshit, ridiculous, chaotic moments I have at work, what I’m doing there is completely valid.
And that’s the beauty of life! That I, a retail manager, can sometimes feel like a badass because I’m real fucking good at my job. Sure, spending my lunch break reading Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential for the third time makes me feel significantly less badass for my hard work (how does he make working 80+ hour weeks sound so fucking good?). And in the great, big, grand scheme of the world, what I do isn’t particularly meaningful. But I spent a healthy portion of my youth being influenced by people just like me – new-fangled adults that, more often than not, were artistically fumbling with the reality that is supporting oneself (and one’s doggo), but doing so in such a fun, warm, real way that I instantly wanted to be one of them.
Those are the real badasses. People that you meet every day, just doing life, and really, truly, thoroughly enjoying the ride in the way that makes the most sense to them. They’re honest. They’re not perfect. I mean, I won’t ever be the kind of badass that’s defined by their acerbic wit, some form of preferred debauchery, or their effortless rebellious nature. But I’m exactly the kind of badass I’m meant to be. The kind that makes people smile, laugh, and feel all the better for it.
What was the second thing that happened, you ask? The second thing that finally helped kick that obnoxious funk to the curb? Some golden words from my sister: “Whenever you are in one of your funks, I want you to think of the amazing impact you have on other people’s lives and how anyone who knows you is goddamn lucky. I definitely feel that way.”
She might not know it, but she is 100% a badass too.