A Story About Paying Off Debt and the Obstacles Along the Way


Announcing The I'm A F*#&ing Badass Experiment

The thing I hate the most about the past four years of my job history is the way it's eroded my confidence. Being in the wrong line of work will do that to a person. All I can see are the things I'm *not* good at: public speaking, talking on the phone, dealing with upset customers, stroking the egos of cranky managers. My job doesn't provide much opportunity for me to play to my strengths, and as a result, I've forgotten just how skilled, educated, and experienced I am. I'm convinced this lack of confidence has contributed to my recent feelings of depression and low self-worth.

But then this past weekend happened: I ran in a long-distance relay and was reminded that actually, I'm pretty fucking awesome, and I deserve to feel that way every single day. We all do.

Ready to conquer 18 miles
A bit of background: As many of you know, I'm passionate about running. But I'm not a natural runner. I didn't participate in track or cross country in grade school; I was the kid who'd look for every excuse to miss the one-mile run in gym class each semester. I began a jogging regimen only because it's something my partner was into when I first met him 20 years ago. On our first outing together, I huffed and puffed down one city block before I called it a day. A year later I finished a marathon. I've been a runner ever since.

I've improved my times over the years but never beyond middle of the pack. At my Tuesday night track club, I amble along in the drafts created by Olympic-level speedsters as they fly by at less than five minutes a mile, all taut muscle and perfect form. The thing is, though, I really don't care about the disparity in our performances. I'm happy for their talent. I'm happy for me, too. I love how running makes me feel. I see my limitations, I fully accept them, and I do my best with what I've got.

And what I've got is perfectly fine, something I was reminded of as I was running 18 miles through the desert last Saturday. I'd tapered well and felt fresh as I headed to the aid station at the start of my leg. During the run, my nutrition/hydration plan was on point. The trail was rocky, but I didn't fall once. I implemented my crush-the-downhills-speedwalk-the-uphills strategy. And by the time I reached my end point, I was ahead of schedule. Fast? No. But I delivered for my team.

It helped to be amongst others in the running community, where every person is treated as an absolute hero regardless of their gender, race, age, weight, pace, whatever. You run past someone, you tell them how outstanding they are, and they reciprocate. You get to an aid station, they tell you how amazing you are, and you thank them profusely for taking time out of their day to help host the event.

The ethos in the running community is just... inspiring. It's about unconditional acceptance and appreciation. It's about valuing people simply for being present, for participating, for existing.  Experiencing it again at Saturday's race was such a contrast to the messages I've been receiving in my work over the past few years and particularly over the past two months.

Basking in that spirit made me realize that I deserve better in my job. I cannot continue to work for a manager who yells at me and a company with policies that leave me feeling like a pile of shit at the end of each day. Work shouldn't make us feel that way. It's emotionally draining. It's bad for our health.

Which is why I'm determined to pivot, make a career shift, and find a way out of this employment rut. It's going to happen, but I know I need to stick it out for at least a few more months at my current job so that we can save some money and make a clear plan.


In the meantime, I don't want to feel powerless. I don't want to keep crying at my desk every morning. I don't want to feel like a worthless pile of slime on my office floor. For this job to be sustainable until next summer, I need to find a way to regain my confidence, or at least some of it. And I can't wait for my company or my boss to help me out in that respect, because that's never going to happen.

So I've decided to take on a little life experiment. I'm calling it my I'm A Fucking Badass Experiment, and here's how it's going to work: every week, I'm going to try out a strategy that I hope will help me feel better and more confident about myself. Whatever that strategy is, I'll implement it each and every day during that given week. At the end of the week, I'll report back: was it effective? Did it flop? Would I recommend it to others? (On the docket for Week 1: Power Posing!) 

Thanks to the messages we receive from the world around us, oftentimes especially from our work, we get brainwashed into thinking that we deserve less than we do. But as one of my running heroes, Sally McRae, has said, we don't need a why to matter. We matter because we exist. We should feel confident simply because we are here, doing the best we can every single day. And that's what I want for myself.

(Well, that and a better job.)



  1. Nice strategy and great job on the running. I'm not a fast runner but I'm ok with that and I work on improving for me. It's great you're adopting that for your work strategy. I'm excited to see how that works out. Good luck!

  2. Do you have any access to a professional coach where you live? I was completely burnt out at work a few years ago, and two sessions with a "performance coach" who specialized in people in high-performance careers (e.g. physicians) completely turned things around. The best part was that he was able to help me find ways (mostly ways of reframing things mentally) of making work a lot better without my work situation changing. Not to say that this would make you want to stay where you are long-term, but maybe it would make your remaining time there less painful.

    Also, I'm really looking forward to hearing the results of your experiment!

  3. This is exactly where I am right now with my job too and in a weird way I'm finding that it was almost easier in the complacent rut because now that I do have an 'exit strategy' plan in the works it's hard not to get inpatient and want to jump the gun! I'm really looking forward to your weekly experiments.

  4. This is an excellent mindset for going into your next project, whatever that turns out to be! I agree about the running community. It's just such a positive, supportive vibe! So at least you have an idea of how you want to feel, which is a great start for finding the next big thing!

  5. Yes yes yes I love this so much and am so looking forward to hearing how the experiment goes! I should probably do a similar thing myself.

  6. Would you by any chance be interested in yoga? I'm an avid yogini, and I'm currently nearing the end of a 30 day program called Hatha Yoga Happiness. It's basically a daily yoga practice (sometimes there's meditation) and every day she gives some kind of life tip to hopefully bring a little more happiness. I'm loving the program so far, and while I haven't applied every tip, I do think it's a good program to give a try. Plus, yoga just leaves me feeling good. Maybe it'll be a good addition to your experiment?

    If you want to: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLEs9dX8UXFZpezpFe_xfN6KCTImjTXf3u

  7. The idea of a career change is so stressful, especially when you're invested in a certain field financially or via education. It's like we get caught up in the Sunk Cost Fallacy with our jobs. But it seems like you're a successful goal setter, both with running and with your financial journey! I'm sure you can set an example for the rest of us :)

  8. YOU ARE AWESOME!!! Keep on trucking!!