I've Finally Discovered What Makes Me A Badass Woman

I'm a badass warrior when I hold onto hope, and so are you.

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By Adele Espy

What makes you a badass?

Is it the confidence you exude? Or is it the way you carry yourself? Is it your job or work ethic? Or is it how much you love others? Is it your ability to love yourself?

The truth is, it’s not what you do, but how you do it that makes you a badass.

Personally speaking, I’m a badass because I’ve spent the past decade surviving mental and physical health issues. Because of every hospital I’ve been to, every treatment center I’ve survived, and every support group where I’ve helped others.


But most of all, I’m a badass because of the connections I cherish and the people who walk beside me.

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I’m a badass because I reach out to people for support despite wanting to use maladaptive coping skills. I carry on with life when I feel myself crumbling inside.

I’m a badass because I listen to that tiny voice that always speaks up for my health and wellbeing. And I’m a badass because of my endless hope for a better tomorrow.

I used to think that being a professional cross-country skier was the only thing that made me a badass. But skiing for miles on end was an easy feat compared to trying to recovery from multiple illnesses.


When I skiied, pushing myself so hard that I injured my body was easy. Training for hours each day was easy. Sucking myself into a narrow lifestyle that allowed me to block out anything hard or different was easy.

Interrupting my repetitive, compulsive behaviors is far harder for me.

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Going to bed instead of caving into the urge to binge on cereal and cookies is extremely difficult for me. But my challenges have given me empathy for people with substance use disorders and other mental health struggles because I understand what it’s like to have an addicted, recovering brain.

My willingness to be vulnerable despite my secretive mental illness’s wishes to isolate makes me badass, too.


I’m a badass because I resist my desire to hide away. I’m a badass because no matter how crummy I feel, I go to social events, altering my daily life to accommodate for my medical issues, and, most importantly, maintain hope through it all.

When I think of my role models, it’s not what they do that makes them badass in my mind; it’s their genuine care, their endless belief in me, and it’s their love for their family. That’s what makes them a badass.

Being able to push beyond what’s healthy might once have felt amazing to me, but true badassery is convincing yourself to stop and rest when your body needs a break.

I no longer measure steps, calories, my weight, or my size to measure how badass I am.


I now know that I’m truly badass when I’m vulnerable with people who can help.

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I’ve shared dark secrets with the healers in my life, and it scared the living daylights out of me. But once my secrets are out, I can make more space for freedom, love, hope, courage, and acceptance to fill the void where my secrets had once lurked.

For the majority of my young adulthood, I’ve struggled through more challenges than I thought I could handle, but I always held onto hope.

And that undying hope for a better tomorrow is exactly what makes me a badass.

Everything I’ve been through should have squashed my tiny glimmer of hope, but I know that something inside of me wants to live more than anything.


I can’t wait to prove to myself how badass I am because I’ve been to hell and back.

I’m a badass warrior when I hold onto hope, and so are you.

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Adele Espy is a writer who focuses on topics of health and wellness, sexuality, and self-care. Visit her author profile on Unwritten for more.