Yes Yes Yes And: Fear is Your Friend

Sometimes I feel like this blog is ultimately just a slow reveal of all my nerdy quirks. Like a striptease, except instead of my naked body, you get to see more and more dorky facts about me. Like how I love Sherlock fanfiction, keep statistics on my sleep cycles, and think speculums are cool.

One of my more impassioned nerdy interests is improv. I studied it for years in high school, played on a competitive team, and even coached a troupe for a year. I don’t do much ‘prov these days, though I do still go to shows and fangirl in the improvisors’ general direction.

Lately I’ve been listening to the Backline podcast and it has reignited my improv obsession in full force. And as I listen, I’m increasingly aware that my improv training has actually helped me out sexually, in more ways than one. So I’m launching a little blog series called Yes Yes Yes And, to dissect the parallels between improv and sex. (If you’re wondering why the hell this feature is titled that: it’s a dumb improv joke that makes me smile. “Yes, and” is the guiding principle of improv, and “Yes yes yes!” is, uh, you could say, a guiding principle of good sex.)

Sexprov lesson #1: fear is your friend.

If you improvise, you will be scared. There’s no way around it. My coach used to tell me, “Jump into the fear.” Rob Norman says, “The fear never goes away; you just start to like it.”

Not only do you start to like it; you also learn how to improvise through your fear, instead of panicking or freezing up. You get better at being in the moment and staying present, so that even if adrenaline is flooding your system, you can still string sentences together, follow a narrative, listen to your scene partner, and generate new ideas as you go along.

Fear helps you grow. It pushes you. It keeps you on your toes. It shines a spotlight on your struggles so you know what areas to try to improve upon. It’s not inherently a bad thing; it’s just a signal, a tool. Frank Sinatra once said he probably wouldn’t want to keep performing if he no longer experienced stage fright, because what would be the point?

When it comes to sex, obviously, there are situations where fear is bad. You should never have sex that genuinely scares you, because that wouldn’t be consensual. Sex should feel positive and exciting.

But sometimes, fear is just excitement with the brakes on. You can feel the difference between “good fear” and “bad fear.” If it’s bad, your whole body and your deepest intuition all scream “NO” – but if it’s good, some part of you feels exhilarated and intrigued. Your apprehensive adrenaline rush is accompanied by breathless what-ifs and desperate wishes. The needle on your internal meter trembles a little closer to “Fuck yeah!” than it does to “Hell no!”

I know from firsthand experience that getting over sexual fear is worth doing. There was a time when even the thought of touching a penis made me want to vomit from anxiety. But when I actually started to do it, I realized it was lots of fun. And from there, I came to recognize that if I could get over that fear – a terror that had, at various times, made me cry, panic, and consider a life of celibacy – then I could truly do anything.

Doing scary shit gives you a “fear reference” for tackling bigger and bigger challenges. Any time you encounter a scary new situation, in or out of the bedroom, you can remind yourself, “Hey, I did [that terrifying thing], and it turned out great. I can do this, too!”

You will often be surprised at how delicious it feels to do shit that makes you nervous. Once you buck up and do it, you feel like a goddamn superhero. And you’ll probably have a hell of a lot of fun in the process.

Have you ever overcome a sexual fear? Have you embraced fear as a positive motivator in your life, sexually or otherwise?