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The Golden Handcuffs

Sometimes I feel like Star Jones, always saying “I am a Lawyer!”  (And the triathlon purists roll their eyes… “Isn’t this blog simply supposed to be about triathlon?” Yes, hold your horses.)

I am really the anti-Star Jones.  I start off most conversations about, “What do YOU do for a living” with an ambiguous response like, “Well, I work at a law firm, but that’s boring. What do YOU do?”  People usually nod, and about 67% of the time, they are cool with moving on to their employment, and that’s the end of the further explanation.

However, sometimes I have to get into it further. “What do you do at the law firm?” they’ll ask. I dread this part.


But, I say it, “I’m an attorney,” and then one of three things happens:
1) the person has absolutely no reaction (thank goodness);
2) they suddenly are very interested (and also, angry) and follow up my response with something like, “OH, I HATE LAWYERS! How despicable. How do you do it?”; or
3) they are interested because they have a legal problem that suddenly I can assist with.
(I have utmost sympathy for doctors. At least people come up to me saying, “I have this neighbor who has a loud dog and he keeps me up all night barking…”  With doctors, I imagine there’s a lot of “Hey doc, I’ve got this thing under my arm…” (lifting shirt) “…can you take a look now?”)

Anyway.  Last night, I was thinking about what I’d like to be when I grow up. I started doing some math.  I calculated how much money I would be “losing” if I quit my job.  I did the calculation based on 35 years (the expectation of evil years I have left in this profession).

My realization: the Golden Handcuffs have absolutely got me.


And even though my handcuffs are more Sterling Silver than real gold… I am absolutely stuck.Now, I’m wondering how the Lessons in Patience are paying off.

How many of you are stuck? In a place you don’t want to be? In a job that you swear will rip your entire soul out before the end of the month?  Are we just glad to have jobs, especially in this economy? (Yes, I know this is correct.)  But really, how many of us just want more? Or something different? Something that doesn’t actually pain our stomachs and drive us to drink each day?

I thank God for triathlon.


Triathlon, I am certain, is gaining its rampant popularity due to the fact that people hate their day jobs. Hate. Hate.

Being a “Weekend Warrior” allows a person who can’t survive another weekday spreadsheet, another classroom of bratty munchkins, to get on a bike and ride free… to run until the pain goes away… to swim 70.3 flip turns until the sounds of the evil boss is gone with the bubbles and the taste of chlorine.

I’m not sure what to say about the Golden Handcuffs.

But I believe triathlon is the key to open the cuffs. Not permanently, but regularly. With a workout, I can break free of the cuffs, and be me.

From SwimBikeMomStories.

Triathlon is the joyful noise that gets me through.

At the end of the day, I may be forced to stick out my arms and return to the prison.

But I know, deep in my heart that the sunshine was worth it…and that the weekend escape with my fellow triathlete “inmates” is enough to keep me going until the next time.


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  • Anonymous

    May 3, 2012 at 12:18 am

    And some days, even a pre-dawn 6 mile run isn't enough to relieve the pain in your soul from the grind of the job. Today was one of those days.

  • Duckie

    May 3, 2012 at 12:51 am

    You said it. Many of the seemingly absurd decisions I make in my life are an attempt to wiggle out of the golden handcuffs while I still have use of my left hand (that clock is ticking). You are turning SBM into an empire and you may find the key to those cuffs there. I admire and respect your ability to organize your blog, market yourself, and move this forward under your own steam. It is something I can't seem to accomplish. You can be proud of what you have created here and all of the people you inspire. There is a reason you got published. Clearly, when your heart is in something, you are capable of pretty amazing things. I, as someone who draws a lot of strength from your words, am glad you are so good at this! Keep on!

  • C

    May 3, 2012 at 10:27 am

    Great post! The daily grind (as I call it) is really starting to get to me also. In fact, I took the next four days off and I am so excited because all I plan to do is ride my bike!!!!

  • Cat

    May 3, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    So I went to law school and realized that I hated it. But I was invested too much in it not to finish and get that stupid piece of paper. I am so grateful that I didn't listen to my parents and get suck in the "golden handcuffs." And reading this entry just strengthens my resolve not to join the legal field now.

    But it's not all bad. And no matter what field you end up working in, there are crap days, there are even crappier days, and then there are days where you would rather be forced to cut off your hand and eat it then going into work.

    And just remember, it's your job that pays for the triathlon cult. Triathlons is part of your life. The job is just there to support it. (that's what I keep telling myself on hard days)

  • Corey

    May 3, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    YES, YES, YES and YES. This. Everything you said here. I daydream about my workouts (and read tri blogs) while I am at work, wondering when I will have the courage to go do something that pays very little but makes me very happy. You are spot on…especially this week!

  • Stefanie Frank

    May 3, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    I was where you are (minus the two beautiful children) in 2005. I got out. It's possible.

    [discovered triathlon after I got out and it saved my life — no exaggeration]

    I won't say it was easy. It was NOT. I won't say I replaced my lawyer salary right away. I did NOT.

    But it is possible. 🙂

    And patience has A LOT to do with it.

  • Stefanie Frank

    May 3, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    Oh and what Duckie said! I knew nothing about marketing when I left The Firm. How do you know all of this stuff??? Lol.

  • TX Runner Mom

    May 3, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    I could have written your post, except I am not a lawyer. I work in HR, which makes me people give me that pitiful look and say, "I could never work in HR!". I aspire to do something different, but because of my tri-habits, mortgage, kid's college fund, etc. I just can't. Unfortunately, even my weekend warrior time is not enough to help me dislike my job less these days. 🙁

  • tahira007

    May 4, 2012 at 5:10 am

    So many thoughts leap to mind while reading your post.

    "If you want to do something, you'll find a way. If you don't, you'll find an excuse", for one.

    The second, "You're not an oak tree. Change what you don't like."

    Third, "If you hang around trash, you'll start smelling like it."

    How is it that you had the drive, determination, and desire to complete law school and finish a 70.3 IM? You're miserable in your job but have already sealed your fate with your words. Make the decision to change what you don't like.

    Good luck to you. Love your blog.


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