#GirlBoner Courage: Turning Gutlessness Into Gusto

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.” – Meg Cabot

facing fear

The woman who moves across the globe alone to start anew, the man whose heart is broken but never gives up on love, anyone who bypasses high-paying or “stable” vocations in the name of artistry… I so admire folks who step up in courage. This week I’m trying my darndest to be one of them.

If you caught my post from a few months ago, Singing Naked: Honesty on Stage, you know that music means a lot to me. You also know that sharing my original tunes with others makes me anxious. It feels a bit like opening up my soul, flashing neon lights on my vulnerabilities and pouring my innermost thoughts out before Simon Cowell-like ears.

Once I stepped onto the stage after a lengthy respite at my paperback release party in March, my nervousness transformed into bliss. Rather than pee on the floor or obsess over imperfections as I’d anticipated, I savored every moment. Afterward, I felt like trading my place for a bus and going on tour! I settled for a less dramatic pursuit: a few gigs per year.

writing dreams

Then in a burst of post-show delusional hysteria courage, I decided to submit tunes to New York venues, requesting stage-time during the week of ThrillerFest. A groovy one panned out. This Wednesday, July 10th, I’ll perform a full set not only live on stage, but before the entire Facebook-universe, or whoever decides to visit my page and hit ‘play.’

If you'll be in the NYC area this week, I'd love to see you here! I won't puke on you or anything—promise.

If you’ll be in the NYC area this week, I’d love to see you here! I won’t nervous-puke on you or anything—promise.

Shortly after booking the show, the self-doubt goblin reared its ugly head again: Your songs are weird. You don’t play guitar “right.” You don’t even practice! What were you THINKING?!?

As with my first gig, I considered canceling. Or sending invitees to the wrong time and address—someplace with better entertainment. Then I plunked down with my guitar, closed my eyes and recalled why I’d written the songs. Regardless of how they’re played or perceived, I still believe in their stories and care deeply for the people behind them. I also sense that music means more to me than I can begin to comprehend. Being the gushy bohemian I am, I shed tears, commanding the SD goblin to GO STUFF IT.

It worked, mostly.

Now me and my gastro-butterflies are nervous, but eager. I’m not trying to become the next Joni Mitchell, or playing because I believe—or even wish—to be “good.” I’m performing because I promised myself long ago that I wouldn’t let fear or insecurity hold me back from anything I hold dear.

So what does this have to do with Girl Boner? A lot, actually. I’ll be singing naked (metaphorically), and performing a song I jokingly call “Girl Boner Beginnings.” But the real connection lies in the gusto it takes to pull ourselves up out of a place of insecurity to pursue passionate pursuits we fear. While fear holds an important place in our lives and psyche, it can also tinker big time with our happiness.

I could delve into the studies that show a tight link between female sexuality and happiness, of which there are numerous. But the message for today is this: being whole, emotionally fulfilled people makes way for happiness in a variety of ways—including sexually. While we can often find contentment in the comfortable, I think it takes daring and challenging ourselves to truly soar—even (or especially) when it’s terrifying. How else can we truly learn what we’re capable of?

I’m not suggesting that we all make “I’m Afraid Of” lists simply to have better sex (though talk about rad frosting). I do think, however, that if we let ourselves grow complacent in other life areas, we’re likely to be complacent in the bedroom—and vice versa. If we seek empowerment in one life department, on the other hand, we can expect to flourish in others. (This by far beats fixating on problems rather than nourishing joy, which often defeats the purpose.)

The takeaway, from a solely sexual standpoint: If you’re feeling stagnant sexually, why not dare yourself to dream bigger and go after those dreams with gusto? I’ve found that the reverse also works: Prioritizing sexual exploration, intimacy and adventurousness can rev up excitement in life. Both scenarios are win-wins, in my opinion, regardless of the results. If we fall flat, we typically still gain something. We’ll never have to wallow in “what ifs?” or regret, and many “falls” move us closer to success.

So yes, I plan to savor sexual perks in the weeks following my show—no matter what happens. Dream-seeking and challenge-facing can be seriously awesome foreplay! More so than that, I plan to continue dreaming and living larger, with faith that rewards of many kinds will follow.

With this topic in mind, I posted a question on Facebook last week: What’s something you did that terrified you, and are now so glad you did? The responses were crazy inspiring. Here are just a few that rocked:

FB screenshot

What scary thing have you done that you’re now grateful for? What would you do if you weren’t afraid? Have you noticed a link between overcoming fear and your sexual confidence? Can I look forward to seeing you at ThrillerFest? love hearing from you. ♥ 

To more Girl Boner chit chat, join me on Facebook and Twitter. If you’ve missed any Girl Boner posts, you can now find the whole shebang in list-form here. Thanks for reading, y’all. Have a beautiful week!

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23 Comments

  1. So excited for you! Wish I could be there to hear you live.

    The scariest thing I ever did that I was grateful for was say “yes” when my husband asked me to marry him… 23 years ago. (Still married). It was scary because the question came after we had known each other for 6 weeks. It felt the way I imagine it would to jump out of an airplane, and I haven’t landed yet.

    Reply
  2. I wish I could be in New York to cheer you on! I’d love to see you perform live ~ some day, my friend.

    I cannot even begin to tell you how fabulous you are! To know that you have self doubt too makes me feel less alone and braver. It’s strange, isn’t it, to look at someone who you think has it ‘ALL’ and then find out they have the same insecurities as you. I totally love that. Because now I can look at you and think, ‘hell, if she can do it, so can I!’.

    Something I did that I was terrified about? I moved to London on Boxing Day 1989, got married three months later, got pregnant about half a minute later, left him three months after that, and came back to California to have my beautiful daughter. She’s the best damn souvenir from England I could’ve gotten. Being a single mom was scary and fulfilling in more ways than I can count. For five years it was just us until I met my prince charming husband. Those five years are some of the most amazing/special/character building I’ve ever had. It also taught me that I’m much stronger than I thought I was.

    Just like getting up on that stage to do something you love will teach you that when you follow your bliss, you’re never naked.

    Reply
  3. I had an experience somewhat similar to yours several years ago when I appeared onstage in the main theater of a cruise ship to win their karaoke contest. Actually, though, I had little fear about it. Guess I’m a natural ham when it comes to such things. I did have concern about how I’d fare. See http://davidnwalker.com/2012/10/08/karaoke-superstar/ for more details.

    Reply
  4. I wrote a post this week on wanting to fear less, but ironically I posted something else (ie chickened out, for now anyway). This fear thing is a constant battle. I love the inspiration I get from your post though! 🙂 Wishing you all the best, August! 🙂

    Reply
  5. You are the one with the courage to do everything. Energy, enthusiasm, fantastic sense of humor – and the KEY ingredient: Talent…And I did one more scary thing last year – a You Tube trailer for my novel, Portrait Of Murder. Thought it up, did it myself, with my all-time favorite blues rock band Led Zeppelin doing their great tune “Kashmir” in the background. (I got permission to use the music, asking for that was scary too, come to think of it.) Fear cancels out sexual energy, but there’s ways of overcoming that: Be gentle and sweet, and even have a little humor, if the timing is right. God bless you, August 🙂

    Here’s the link to my (amateur) trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GibuEI1xiKM

    Reply
  6. Wish I could be there to hear you play! I arrive a day late…

    Scariest thing? A couple…said “goodbye” to my longtime agent. Performed in an original musical. Declared myself a “fiction” writer. Married a man from a different country…

    None of it gets any easier, it all scares the weeeeee outta me!

    Reply
    • What? You get scared, Amy?!? LOL So you’re human after all… 😉 Thanks for the support. I seriously can’t wait to see you!

      Reply
  7. Sounds awesome, best of luck!

    Reply
  8. August, you are just an amazing, open and honest person which draws each and everyone of us to you. And you are so talented. And brave. I applaud you for seizing the opportunity to sing in New York. In front of your fellow authors. How cool is this? What a great support system. You are going to kill it girlfriend! Can’t wait for Wednesday. Thanks for sharing it on FB for all of us non-Thriller peeps. Go get ’em August! Wahoo! 🙂

    Reply
  9. The one thing that hits the top of my list on courage? Saying goodbye to what I perceived to be my best friend. Pinot Grigio, and his extended family.

    I thought I’d never again be happy, or witty, or comfortable at social venues. Oh! The lies that insidious disease plants in our noggins. SOBER — it’s a secret code for Son-Of-a-Bitch Everything’s Real. There are no words to properly size the blessings of then versus now.

    You are the bomb!

    I will be at the live stream event if my schedule permits, August. It’s crazy-to-be-me week-before-Nationals-in-Atlanta.

    Bonus! We have serious prospects circling an offer on our home. Oh, the things I’ll do, the places I’ll go, when this place sells and we move into a sane amount of square footage for two people.

    If I don’t make it, I’m with you in spirit.

    Reply
    • You are such an inspiration, Gloria. Thanks for being you and for the beautiful support.

      Congrats on the home progress! So exciting. 🙂

      Reply
  10. Told my dad the truth about how I felt about him and how his actions impacted me. It was a tough love moment for him, but a moment of release and empowerment for me. I was finally free to let go.

    Reply
  11. I can’t wait to hear all about it- wish I was going!!!

    Reply
  12. Raani York

     /  July 10, 2013

    Oh I wish I’d be in NYC already and could hear you performing!!!

    Reply
  13. Have fun in NYC, August! Sounds like it’s going to be a lot of fun…and almost makes wish I had the guts to write thrillers. Of course then I’d have nightmares so…sigh.

    Bravest thing I’ve ever done? Going through with my pregnancy for my youngest daughter, even though I knew the odds were good that we would both die. I’ve never once regretted that decision.

    What would I do if I weren’t afraid? Fly out to California to meet all of you cool authors. But at this stage of the game, I’m sure my fear of heights is going to be a lifelong issue, so I’ll just keep hoping for a writer’s conference in reasonable driving distance that all you non-cowards will attend. 😀

    Reply
  14. I think my “scary” thing is to have kept going when I wasn’t certain I could do it after the stroke. It wasn’t scary in the “afraid” sense, but more in the “OMG, how am I going to do this?” sense. I knew it was that or give up and die soon, and I didn’t want to die. It has led me to miraculous areas in my life.
    Scott

    Reply
  1. #GirlBoner Courage Part II: The Gig Y’All Helped Me Play! | August McLaughlin's Blog

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