Women, rock on.

You will feel pain. But keep at it. It is so worth it.

Girls, it’s going to hurt. Sometimes you won’t be able to do it for more than an hour at first. The tips of your fingers will sting. And when you start playing the barre chords, your arms will ache. You will feel pain. We are not like guys, who build muscle more quickly, have more natural strength. It will be a struggle.

But keep at it. It is so worth it. There’s no greater confidence builder, no matter what age you start. When you can stand in front of people, and you can rock out, the power surge is amazing. You will feel invincible. When you’re not playing, you’ll wonder, is that really me? Can I really do that?

I remember my first time in front of an audience. I had learned “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana, and had drilled it at home, crying out my heart into the mic and accompanying myself on rhythm guitar to a backing track.

At rock band class
Playing Nirvana at the beginning rock band class

That song had become my anthem during a truly horrific time in my life, when sudden ruptures in both my working and personal lives had coincided like a biorhythmic triple critical. It brought me to my knees, plummeted me into an identity crisis, and made me understand in a visceral way what the self-loathing inherent in grunge was all about.

I listened to Nirvana for two months straight.

Like a phoenix struggling to reinvent myself from the ashes, I took a music performance class at the local community college called “Beginning Rock Band.”

On the fourth or fifth Saturday of the class, I stood with my guitar in front of a microphone with the makeshift rock band assembled by the instructor from the other younger-than-me beginning musicians. My stomach clenched as the drummer counted into the song. I launched into the dissonant power chords, belting out Kurt Cobain’s disaffected lyrics like my life depended on it.

I think it actually did. The power of performing with a band backing me surged through me like godfire.

I don’t know what would have happened if the effort had failed, but it didn’t.

At the end of the song, the rest of the class didn’t just applaud, they cheered.

It was an amazing feeling. I think my pain from all those months of darkness came through.

Life only got better from then, filled with music, new friends and experiences.

Rock had saved me, once more.

When you’re up there playing, and the music is flowing through you, and your soul is in it, then you will understand why it looks like the guys are making love to their guitars. Despite society’s oppression of women, this will give you the same power as the men. You will be their equal — and not only in the eyes of the audience, but in your own mind.

Playing guitar might be the single most important cure for a girl’s low self esteem.

Women, rock on.