The Sexiest Quality In Anyone. (Hint: It’s Not Confidence.)

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leap of faith

Confidence is sexy, no doubt about it. Someone who knows how to do something well and owns that ability, that’s damn sexy alright. But there’s another related quality that I find even more appealing.

Before we get to the biggest turn-on trait, let’s remember that quiet confidence ought not to be confused with outright arrogance, which is based in insecurity.

When someone feels the need to boast, they actually lack confidence and subconsciously need to fill that gap in themselves with others’ validation. (Been there, dumb that, grew out of it—mostly—and got the t-shirt.)

Aside from confidence, there’s another quality that spells admiration-worthy from where I stand, sit or sprawl…

The quality I admire most in anyone is courage.

We are all afraid of something. Some of us are afraid of many things, and some fear damn near everything. I have a friend who says “I’m scared” or “That’s scary” so many times in any given conversation that I’ve joked about penalizing him for using the word.

I used to be a scaredy-chicken. I was morbidly shy as a child and didn’t participate in recreational activities, sports, music lessons, dance class, group activities, or anything social-oriented—and to me, social-oriented meant more than me and one close friend.

As a teenager, I turned to liquid courage (read: alcohol) to erect a semblance of a social life. I was still scared most of the time. (And intoxicated when I wasn’t.) I admired schoolmates that participated when required and that even volunteered to join activities. I was not a joiner.

A popular classmate, Vicky, was into every sport and social program imaginable and was often the team captain. She had the cutest dimples and a killer volleyball spike. She seemed fearless. I remember her infectious laugh and my wanting to be like her. To be her.

As an adult, I developed a measure of courage (and confidence) in work, but clung to that old timidity despite my success, plus some heavy-duty-ego-based arrogance. (My shy-based insecurities needed that at the time.)

When I walked away at the top of my career to pursue my passion—you’re reading it—I was terrified. I feared criticism and ridicule (from my previous associates and potential readers of my new endeavour). I did it anyway, and inasmuch as I was questioned and made fun of by my fear-driven old-world brethren, I’ve had a hundred-fold more positive feedback. Not that I need the validation, but maybe I do. It doesn’t matter.

I was courageous. And courage inspires because we are all afraid.

We’re afraid to go for the new job when we’ve hung our hat at this one for so many years. Or to audition for the play with our local theatre club. Or to finally talk with that woman on the boardwalk we usually just smile at. Or take swimming lessons when we’re 75. Or cry in front of our partner or the world…or travel half way around the world when we’re 40 and have never left our homeland.

Or to tell our sweetheart we love them when we’re unsure they feel the same.

Or to ask for forgiveness and admit we feel shame.

Or to love our flawed selves and let go of blame.

Daring greatly through vulnerability.

This is Courage.

Now, when I converse with people who talk about and live by their fears, I want to shake them and yell, “Wake up! Live, for Cristo’s sake!”

But I remind myself that they’re on their own journey and the fears they feel are real and valid to them, as are the fears I hang on to and the ones I’ve overcome.

Most people with confidence in something didn’t start with the accompanying skill. Whether it’s learning to rally the V-ball or making big-business decisions based on numbers and statistics and logistics and supposed-sure-thing strategies. Either way, it takes guts to go for it; to put ourselves out there subject to “failure.”

Having the courage to try leads to confidence, because it doesn’t matter if we get good at the thing we tried, it’s the trying that matters.

But what will they think of me?  This was the most annoying fear to me, the one I was most crippled with.

I thought it was only me, but I looked around—TV, magazines, movies, commercials, commercialism—and realized we live in a what-will-they-think-of-me society.

When we become really, truly cool with ourselves, we need a lot less what-will-they-think-of-me stuff, but as ever-evolving, stimulation-requiring, supposed-intelligent beings we find other ways to worry about opinions.

How many likes did my Facebook status get? How many retweets? Am I being judged for how advanced/basic my yoga practice is? How acclaimed is my kid in school? The list goes on.

So, yeah, when someone walks to the beat of their own drum, I. Love. Them. It takes courage to stand out from the crowd. It’s okay not to as well, if that’s our authentic self.

And courage doesn’t equal irresponsibility. Sometimes, the greatest courage a person faces is committing to taking responsibility for something greater than themselves, like family and children. But that’s also not an excuse to hide behind when it’s really fear holding us back from doing those heart-happy things (while still being accountable).

Overcoming fears doesn’t mean doing anything overtly dangerous or simply stupid. It doesn’t have to mean jumping out of an airplane at 14,500 feet. (Though it can if that’s what does it for us!)

I commit to taking chances and not worrying about what anyone else thinks. Or at least, caring less. I commit to trusting my path, whether I “fail” or “succeed” and that Life will catch me should my wings falter. Life really does begin outside our comfort zones.

This isn’t a dress rehearsal, it’s a one shot deal, so sign up for those guitar lessons you’ve always wanted to learn or take a Spanish class or audition to sing in the choir or act in a play or join a club or take night classes to finally get that degree or apply for a loan for that start-up business. Or ask that special someone out. Or come out of the closet. Or stand up for something. Or speak out for someone. Or write and publish that damn memoir bubbling inside.

What’s the worst that could happen? Whatever it is, it’s worth it. (Refer back to being safe and responsible, but still, as the saying goes: where there is a will…)

Failure isn’t in not succeeding. Failure is in not trying.

Because here’s the thing: if “they’re” talking about us, then we’re important enough to be talked about. And even though that’s an ego-based consolation prize, it may be enough to let go of fear long enough to impress ourselves by going for it—whatever “it” is!

I hummed and hawed and fretted and feared about publishing my memoir. I was scared to have it out in the world to be judged and criticized and misunderstood. I did it anyway.

And it doesn’t matter if it’s wonderful or wan or successful or forgotten, because I tried. And that makes me a damn sexy woman.

We are all afraid of something. That’s why, in my world, when we look at fear with determined ferocity, I think—

Courage. Is. Sexiest.


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Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Javier Morales/Flickr

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Anna Jorgensen

Anna Jorgensen Dating, love and relationship coach.

A lumberjack’s daughter, I spent my formative years surrounded by virgin forest and hungry grizzly bears in remote forestry camps. The crews were mostly hard-working, good-hearted scruffy men. There was plenty of naked-lady wallpaper, which explains my naughty sense of humour and understanding of how men think. (Hint: It’s not only about sex.)

In 2010, after several “practice” relationships (and a hella lotta “I need help” self-study), I rewrote my self and my life and now wear the cape as “Wingmam.” Yay! My super power is providing one-on-one coaching and study-at-home-in-pj’s online programs that entertain-ucate singles on how to understand the opposite sex, get unstuck, navigate the modern dating world and fast-forward to the fun bits of their happily ever after. (I don’t ask anyone to use cheesy lines or made-up words like I do.)
Love IS the answer, people! ;)

Find Anna here: link to love and laughs.

Connect with Anna’s real, unfiltered Facebook page here (Love IS the answer!).

Watch Anna’s fun-ucational videos on: WingmamTV.

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anonymous Feb 18, 2016 1:32pm

Awesome!! Before reading this I’d booked flights and a hotel for a mini adventure (4nights) in Barcelona, I’m terrible with flying and never been on a plane by myself beyond I hate airports – all the numbers confuse me and I’m petrified I miss or get on the wrong plane – I have a big fear of just going out there and exploring but it’s all I want to do!!! I finally decided ‘sod it’ and now I’m excited and nervous!!! Your column is fab and made me feel more at ease with facing fears x

anonymous Jul 9, 2015 8:59pm

I love your blog posts. I am inspired by them. Do not be afraid to try new things or follow your dreams. Good for you for doing just that!

    anonymous Jan 16, 2016 12:15am

    Thank you, Janel! I so appreciate your words today! Needed them :)) xo

anonymous Jul 8, 2015 10:52pm

As soon as I read the sentence “I hummed and hawed…” it made me remember the book by Spencer Johnson called “Who Moved My Cheese”…a great read for all ages regarding courage and insight.

anonymous Mar 30, 2015 1:51pm

Thanks, Michelle! I just wrote a new essay on fear and what to do about it! Watch for it! xo

anonymous Mar 26, 2015 8:24pm

Great article and pertinent at any age ! I am turning 56 and leaving a marriage after 25 yrs.
It takes guts to live your life and NEVER give up on your dream. Fear is just a word.
Thanks !

anonymous Feb 16, 2015 5:30pm

I'm sorry, but no. Neither courage nor confidence are inherently sexy. You can be good at raping people and be confident about it. That does not make you sexy. You can be courageous about being an asshole. That does not make you sexy. I'm honestly not really getting the distinction between confidence and courage here. It's almost the same thing.

You said courage through vulnerability, but that's a qualifier.

Actually, there's nothing I really consider inherently sexy, so I think this notion is bogus to begin with. But if I were to choose the sexiest single thing someone can do, I'd say it's empathy. All the way. Nonviolent communication. But the sexiest thing of all is not a quality or action of a single person, because sex is inherently social. It is not just about one person. This is why empathy is above courage and confidence, for me. Empathy is about a kind of togetherness. The sexiest thing of all, truly, is that empathic togetherness, whereby both parties help each other meet their sexual needs, as well as other needs.

    anonymous Feb 23, 2015 10:00pm

    True empathy would find itself considering the rapist, who must hate himself to project such loathing on another person. Love doesn't condone inappropriate or harming behaviour. Love is just love. Thank you for caring enough to share your opinion.

anonymous Feb 2, 2015 3:51pm

What a fantastic article. As someone who used to live with crippling shyness and social anxiety, I relate all too well to that dependence on alcohol, relying on it to drop the inhibitions. Having been sober now almost three years, I also relate to this: "Sometimes, the greatest courage a person faces is committing to taking responsibility for something greater than themselves". Kudos to you!

    anonymous Feb 23, 2015 9:55pm

    Thanks Kathleen, and good for you for taking charge of your life! :))

anonymous Feb 2, 2015 5:24am

*hemmed* and hawed. Nice article!

anonymous Nov 10, 2014 7:44am

RIGHT ON! My ex-partner of 4 1/2 years stated even though he loved the sh*t of me, he didn't want to live with me anymore. He was my best friend, we always got along great, but he had/has a lot of baggage and addiction he denies. (I know none of my business) but I became a mother to his 4 daughters, we lived in a house I loved and still love. But I told him I wasn't going to be mean and hateful what good would that do for anyone especially his girls. So instead of getting mad I send love to him whenever I get angry about the lies and cheating. I also moved without a job, and only a temporary place to stay 1,000 miles away to a place I always wanted to live. He had my replacement and has had her on side for 4yrs of our relationship~ but they were only friends. He wasn't over me when he started bringing her around his girls. I had only been gone a week. He told me how I was all over the house, even in his pocket ~ he had the 2 worry stones I gave him. But I was the needy one of the relationship. Nope ~ I was sad, but I am ok by myself. COURAGE I LOVE THAT!

    anonymous Feb 23, 2015 9:54pm

    Jenna, you're not only a survivor, you're a Thriver! xo

anonymous Nov 2, 2014 5:14pm

When the occasion calls for it, walking away from toxic situations (ie hazardous to one’s physical/psychological/spiritual health) takes courage too. This spells the difference between naiveté and compassion–to oneself and others (which like, courage, one comes by quite rarely nowadays).

anonymous Sep 25, 2014 1:00pm

Thank you for sharing your story, Jason! One thing that will relieve you in a way is that fear is always with us when we challenge ourselves to get out of our comfort zone, but every time we step up anyway (no matter the outcome) fear dwindles a little and is replaced with confidence. And pride. Also remember that fear feels a lot like excited anticipation, a good feeling, try to swap the thought of "I'm scared." to "I'm excited." Keep at it, it's worth it!

anonymous Sep 23, 2014 7:09pm

It took me about a month to work up the courage to ask this woman out. On top of it all, the timing couldn't have been worse for someone that gets nervous easily. I waited for her to come outside, and her parents came walking out with her. I stayed focused and asked away. Sadly she was taken, but a new friend was made. Now I am dealing with a similar dilemma and I still find myself nervous. I'm slowly working up the courage to delve once again.

Your article energized me some, I am working on getting rid of the feeling of fear. That is one hard thing to do, probably the hardest emotion to get rid of.

anonymous Sep 23, 2014 5:14pm

I'm happy reading your article Anna—witty and thoughtful.

    anonymous Sep 25, 2014 12:56pm

    Thank you so much Seamus! 🙂

anonymous Jul 25, 2014 10:44am

Right on – courage is pretty darn attractive and sexy – and not normal either 🙂

    anonymous Jul 27, 2014 12:49pm

    Thanks Jeremy! Agr red 🙂

anonymous Jul 7, 2014 6:19am

Courage to say the things that we won't say-APPLAUD

    anonymous Jul 7, 2014 12:11pm

    Agreed, and thank you Christine, for reading :))

anonymous Jul 3, 2014 4:55pm

Nice work Anna – totally agree with you. I guess courage needs a kind of confidence – maybe the best kind. Thanks for a thoughtful piece.

Shanti Shaharazade Texeira Mar 24, 2018 8:03pm

powerful, so powerful. it's crazy, i'm embracing courage on a whole new level. i talked the talk for so long, it actually became true. i'm sitting here in mass. by the window looking out over the grey, overcast day, thinking of my life a few months ago atop a mountain in aibonito, pr. i NEVER thought i could recover from sucidal depression, be med AND depression free for over a year, go back to college and be 4 classes shy of my bachelors. never thought i'd have the wherewithal to stop and stand still, letting everything that was truly mine, stay and everything that wasn't mine, that which was superflouous fall away. i never thought i could face the demons of the 9 circles of hell by myself sans power and water on top of that mountain after Maria hit. I didn't think i could come back to the states and maintain my new found, tender growing shoots of empowered, authentic living. i didn't think i could establish boundaries and lovingly implement them. didn't think i too was a writer and would have a few articles published since H. Maria hit. i didn't think courageously just being me was enough to help impact the 'collective' ... in the past three weeks 2 men told me I'm scary, one in actual words and one by deed. scary because i'm lovingly honest about everything. because i own my footprint in this world and will not do ANYTHING to jeoporize the light that i dance with daily now. there are times when i get looks because of just who i am, maybe it's the orchid colored hair the ink, or the fact that i walk like i'm cleopatra even though i don't always fit societal ideals. i can't help what it all looks like i just know how divine feels running through my veins. i'm courageous enough to talk bout my crazy level of gratitude D.A.I.L.Y because I AM legit STUNNED at the miracles i've encountered since my last hosptialization exactly two years this month. courage is sexy AF, cuz the fact is... so powerfully true... we ARE indeed ALL scared, but i choose to do the stuff anyway. on some days I only have to choose love over fear once in my morning meditation... some days i have to chose love 100x in one day, but i choose it... C.O.N.S.T.A.N.T.L.Y and it has made ALL the difference. my commencement is in two months (omg just checked the date, it's LESS than 2 months away) and something about this achievement TERRIFIES me, maybe it's that voice that says how dare a former runaway on the streets of the NYC, think she can achieve greatness... but i suspect it's what M. Williamson said, it is NOT our darkness that we fear... it's our light (passing out the Ray-Bans) oh well cuz I'm NEVER DIMMING AGAIN THANK you for this article. universal timing for sure! we #RISE together!

Shelly Paulsen Jan 28, 2017 12:45pm

Thank you for your courage and inspiring me to be bold and let go of my fear. I loved the article. You are a gifted writer and I look forward to reading more.

Lily Grider Jan 13, 2017 4:22pm

Thank you so much. Love this read.

Iram Khan Oct 21, 2016 6:52am

This is so well-put article!! It made my day more energetic & lively;thanks to the amazing writer Keep posting such kinda stuff�

Lorna Bennett Samatas Jul 20, 2016 3:02am

So good! ❤️

Jessie Cybulski Jul 19, 2016 7:06pm

<3 needed to read this

Tara Nylese Jun 5, 2016 5:37pm

This is a fantastic piece that truly digs into what people feel. You did find your calling as a writer, great leap of courage!

Rupa Paul Jun 4, 2016 5:01am

This is Really Wonderful. Thank You for this post.