Before I officially accepted the offer to write for the legendary Neil Strauss’ brainchild Stylelife, I was afraid. I was afraid that it had been too long since I’d written about relationships to powerfully share. I was afraid that what I had to say would be idiotic and ill-received. I worried about coming off too bossy, too instructional, too girly, too sensitive, or too wordy. I feared that you all would hold onto every last word I said and I, in turn, would ruin your lives. I feared a demolishing self-fulfilling prophecy ahead. I feared failure. Amidst self-doubt upon self-doubt, I feared the seasoned pros at Stylelife.
In the past, I would have watched myself spin down a spiral of twisting negatives: can’t, won’t, don’t-deserve, shouldn’t-even-try, are-you-insane?, and my personal favorite, you’re-a-phony. Not this time though. This time, a small but strong voice inside commanded me to, “Get a grip, girl!” And then reminded me that inspiring writers don’t compel the masses through self-doubt. They motivate by writing. The little voice told me to, “Sit your ass down and write.” The only way to motivate others through my writing is to actually do it? Duh. Might I miss some people? Sure. Might I suck?Definitely sometimes.But how will I know unless I go for it? I won’t.
That voice was courage. Ca, ca, ca, ca courage. You know, like the lion in Wizard of Oz. Courage doesn’t come easy. Even the lion was dependent on that damn heart clock he wore around his neck. It’s the little voice that tells you that you can do something before the big voice yells, “No, you can’t!” The good news: the little voice can grow. The better news: courage is sexy. Sure some people haveinnate courage, while others must work to develop their courage. Either way yields the same kind of sexy.First, acknowledge that there is a little voice inside us all that tells us we can do it. We can do it! Pay more attention to that voice than the great commander called self-doubt. Then letthat voice, no matter how small or how quiet, lead you to action.
Last week I received a phone call at my store from a guest. He asked if I was the store manager? I am. He asked if I was in the store the previous night around six? I was. Then he asked if I remembered him. He said he was the shorter of two men picking up his pants. I did. “I didn’t want to ask you then because there was another guy standing there and your coworkers were around and I didn’t want to put you on the spot, but would you like to have a drink or a coffee sometime?”
I nearly fell over. Then I shrieked, like out loud, because that is the single nicest and most flattering thing that had happened to me all week. Then I shrieked again because some sexy guy was asking me out. A million self-doubting thoughts probably went through his head: She’ll say no. (I did.) She has a boyfriend. (I do.) She will think I’m a crazy stalker. (I didn’t!) She will think I’m weird. (I didn’t at all!) She will reject me. (Well, I kind of did.) But he listened to the one small voice telling him to go for it. In reply, I told him exactly what I just told all of you – that asking me out was the best thing that had happened to me all week. I thanked him for actually taking the time to call and reassured him that not everyone has the courage to do that. Then I politely declined because I do indeed have a boyfriend.
I spent the rest of the week telling everyone that a sexy guest had seen me at the store and called the next day to ask me out. I told my friends, my mom, my employees, even my boyfriend. “A sexy guy called the store and asked me out!”
“What did he look like?” they asked.
“I have no idea!” I said.
Pushing ourselves beyond our comfort zone requires listening to that little voice of courage. Does it always go exactly how we plan? No. But practice makes perfect, and in this case, practice makes sexier.For me, courage means acting on the small voice’s command even when my armpits are sweating and I’m feverishly picking away at my nail polish. Courage means giving into that which scares the shit out of me: vulnerability, failure, rejection. And then again.And then again. Acknowledging the small courage voice allows us to become more comfortable with the idea of acting on it. Once we are comfortable, we act. Not all the time. Not on the really scary shit, but sometimes we do act. The fact that we acted courageously begins to outweigh the result of our action. Courage is a bit of an endorphin. Courage grows. And with courage, comes something quite sexy.
At the turn of every New Year, we make promises and resolutions. I tell myself I am going to, again this year, lose five pounds. I will be nicer. I will achieve my sales targets. I will, I will, I will… And these are important! Goals create milestones that together create the vision of our lives. To achieve these goals, though, takes a fair amount of courage.
I have been working on my own courage for the past several years, and I have gotten quite good at listening to the courage voice. I even call it my sexy voice. I’ve become so courageous, that I have a little bit to spare. And so, since it’s a brand new year and I’m a brand new voice, I am donating a little bit of my overflowing courage to this column.It is my commitment, in writing to you all, to write with hopeful attempt. To share my experience with dating and dudes even when I feel like I’m going to pee in my pants. And to do everything in my power to help you all listen to your courage.
Let’s start 2013 a little more ready to do the shit that scares us to death.
My commitment: to make this worth the read. Humorous, fun and introspective. I welcome your thoughts, ideas and feedback via email at email@example.com.
About Emma: Emma is a dedicated relationship and dating analyst. She received her Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology from New York University and has been tackling romance with a grain of salt since 2006. Emma is currently writing a book about first dates. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org and find her on the web at emmadilemma.com.