We all want to be badass, especially when we encounter a heroine that makes us breathe "Damn!" and quietly wish we could do that.
I remember watching Appaloosa and thinking, you know, if I ever time-travelled back then, I would be totally screwed. I watched Walking Dead thinking, also totally screwed. I watched Mr. and Mrs. Smith and thought, okay, now I want to be Angelina Jolie.
So wrap all that together and what do you get? A total badass. One person can't have ALL of these qualities, but we sure as hell can try. Here are seven characters who are "Damn!"-inspiring and a tip or two on how you can increase your own badassdom.
1. Be buff.
Who You Want to Be: Celaena Sardothien, Throne of Glass
Why Her? Celaena is the ultimate assassin. Even half-starved the woman can flip over and knock out a regular guy. Light on her feet, easily running miles, and beating the crap out of anyone she wants, she's about as tough as it gets.
How to Be Her: I think this is the hardest one to achieve. It takes the most dedication because unless you're a true gym rat, you're going to get bored running on a treadmill and lifting weights. I did that in college and the only thing that kept me going was my friends (so it IS an option).
I recommend boxing. A real boxing gym, not one of those places where there's 20 bags in a room and a fitness instructor. I had the great pleasure of joining a boxing gym after my divorce because it was the first thing I thought of when I realized I needed to 1) work out or go crazy and 2) get out that aggression. You might not expect it but the guys are usually SUPER helpful and I never met one who was condescending.
2. Ride a horse.
Who You Want to Be: Puck Connolly, The Scorpio Races
Why Her? It’s hard being a girl, but Puck isn’t going to let that stop her from riding in the Scorpio Races to save her family home. Her “normal” horse (as opposed to a water horse) is more than just fine for her, and she loves Dove with all her heart.
How to Be Her: First, you need a horse. This step may not be as hard as it sounds. Even in some large cities there are pockets where people have set aside land and keep horses. Worst case, you may have to google it and see if there’s a ranch nearby and try to work something out one-on-one with the owner. Best case, they offer guided rides which are low commitment and low skill so if you’ve never been on a horse you’ll be fine. I can PROMISE a sore butt the next day. If you want to take it to the next level, find out if they offer riding courses and set aside a few weeks to learn how to tack, saddle, groom, and properly ride. If you buy a horse after reading this, please name her Dove and let me know.
Who You Want to Be: Joel Saxon, The Rithmatist
Why Him? We don’t ALL get to be Harry Potter. Sometimes we’re the kid at home who has a wizard sister and we’re just a Muggle wishing we could go to Hogwarts. (I think we all wish this daily.) Joel loves the magical art of Rithmatics but does not have the gift to use it. It doesn't bother him at all and he studies harder than even the gifted students. His dedication to learning Rithmatics brings him into a mystery and he becomes one of the most valuable students at the school. Book smarts matter, people.
How to Be Him: This is my favorite way to be a badass because it is simple: Pick one thing and be good at it. It doesn’t matter what it is, but it does matter if you love it. Dedicate yourself to it. It can be Shakespeare quotes, reading sheet music (Goonies, hello?), speaking another language, or meteorology. I swear to you it will come in handy at some point in your life. (Possibly just at pub trivia, but you will be the MOST important person on that team for a round.)
4. Shoot a Gun.
Who You Want to Be: Cassie Sullivan, The 5th Wave
Why Her? Cassie knows that sitting around and complaining is not going to turn the world back to the way it was. She is a survivor and learned the hard way that she needs food, water, shelter, and protection. After the world is decimated and it’s no longer easy to tell friend from foe, the one thing she can truly depend on is her rifle She takes care of herself and isn’t waiting for a hero to save her.
How to Be Her: Learning to shoot is like any other motor skill – practice, practice, practice. If you don’t have a buddy to go with you, most shooting ranges will offer classes. My favorite method of learning is through a shooting league like Austin Sure Shots. An all-women environment can remove some of the pressure you could feel being around a bunch of guys, and you have the benefit of learning from all skill levels. Most shooting ranges allow you to rent a pistol or rifle so you don’t have to buy anything. While pistol shooting is more practical for self-defense, I find that rifle shooting is a TON more fun. Try out different pistols and rifles until one feels right, then set up a regular schedule to practice.
5. Ride a Motorcycle.
Who You Want to Be: David Charleston, Steelheart
Why Him? David is a real survivor. Growing up on the mean streets of Newcago has given David a different sort of education. He’s learned about firearms, explosives, and motorcycles in his mission to kill the man who killed his father. When he needs to make a quick getaway, a motorcycle is all he needs to get the hell out of town. (Just don’t ask him to drive a car.)
How to Be Him: If you’re like me and didn’t learn to drive standard when you learned how to drive a car, this is going to be a hard one. So first, I recommend learning to drive standard if you haven’t already, otherwise give yourself PLENTY of patience and room for mistakes. Local businesses and even community colleges offer motorcycle lessons for people interested in getting a license. Most promise that you can learn how to ride within this class period even if you’ve never ridden before. The bike and lessons are included, and you learn the safety laws and it’s super easy to get your license when you complete the course. Now having said all that, I was in a class where I was without a doubt the worst person enrolled. One girl hopped on with ZERO experience and rode circles around the parking lot. Be sure to take a class or you’ll end up like my girl Bella.
Who You Want to Be: Richard "Dick" Campbell Gansey, III (Even his name has swag), The Raven Boys
Why Him? Gansey is loved by everyone he meets. He oozes confidence, he charms with ease, and he generally gets whatever he wants. He blindly does anything in his friend’s best interests, even if they don’t agree with him. He’s so self-assured he knows that it’s only a matter of time before he finds his ultimate prize.
How to Be Him: Can we learn to be THAT self-confident? You may not need a self-help book – my boyfriend learned it on his own when he decided to be a cop. I asked him how he was able to have so much presence when staring down a potential turd. He told me he learned three things: posture, expression, and attitude. Your posture telegraphs to the world how you’re feeling, and when you stand up straight and tall you naturally draw someone’s eye. (Think ballerina.) Your expression is almost a mask – it’s the emotion you want everyone to see, which is probably not what you’re feeling. So if you are dreadfully nervous when you’re about to introduce yourself, a smile on your face will show confidence you’re not feeling. Finally, if you act like you own the room, you own the room. Attitude doesn’t mean be a jerkface. Being positive and attentive can make all the difference.
Who You Want to Be: Sybella d’Albret, Dark Triumph
Why Her? Sybella is an assassin who maximizes the art of seduction to complete her tasks. She uses grace and beauty to charm her way into her target’s bedrooms, then uses her knife to kill them a lot. Flirting comes in handy to get Sybella where she wants to go and she makes the odds go in her favor.
How to Be Her: There is a fine distinction between seduction and sex, so don’t think you need to add notches to your headboard. Seduction is more the smooth art of attraction that leads to someone wanting to do things FOR you because they are entranced. It’s also part of swag, where you walk into a room and people are drawn to you. Seriously, Angelina Jolie.
We can go shallow and say lose weight, work out, go for the bikini body, but it’s more a state of mind. Think of your favorite parts and highlight them with clothes or makeup. Smile as much as you want – after all, no one’s accused Eeyore of being sexy. Dance lessons or yoga can help by giving your body some movement and self-awareness. It’s a little more accurate than the skilled way we all know how to beat ourselves up when we stare in the mirror sometimes.
The final bonus way to be a badass is to have moxie like Katniss Everdeen. You can have all of the traits above and if you don’t have confidence, NONE of it can work for you. I’m not sure how moxie can be learned if you aren’t born with it, but I do know one thing – you have to believe you can handle whatever life throws at you. It might be physically tough or crushing emotional pain, but you WILL handle it. And that makes you the biggest badass of them all.