I'm 18 and I Have Not Had My First Kiss: An Open Letter

People say the best way to get over your fear is to face it head on. While I have many rational and somewhat irrational fears, I’ve come to realize that my fear of what people think of me when I tell them I have not kissed anyone is probably the most ridiculous. I’m tired of feeling shame for my lack of sexual experience, so I’m facing it, admitting it here on the internet where it stays forever and ever. Hopefully this pays off.

First off, I’d just like to clarify a few things for me and my fellow lip virgins out there. I am no prude; just because I am physically innocent doesn't mean I am the same mentally. More importantly, no one should ever shame anyone for their sexual habits. Whether you kiss every person you meet, or have yet to lock lips with anyone, you keep doing you.

Second, I’d like to mention that just because I have yet to have a make-out sesh doesn't mean I’m crawling in my skin for one. I am a busy gal; I’m involved in multiple clubs, hang out with friends, and keep up my grades. If I have any free time left, it goes to my dog, not boy drama.

Third, I have yet to hear from a single person who has a decent first kiss story. In fact, it seems like most of them end in a tangle of awkwardness, confusion, and quite literally a tangle of braces. So you can see where I am not exactly excited to get my smooch on.

However don’t be fooled by my nonchalant attitude, not having any experience in today's world where everyone is so open about their sex life can be a struggle sometimes. Being open and confident about sex can be a great thing, except when all your friends are laughing about their relationships and awkward hookups and all you can do is keep stuffing your face with pizza. Usually I just go along with everyone pretending I have all the experience in the world, and I’ve gotten pretty good at faking it.

But as I’ve transitioned into college, I’m getting pretty tired at having to explain or fake my way through conversations about sexual experience. In truth, no one needs to explain their kissing habits, they are yours and yours alone. Our culture places so much value on sex, especially as teenagers, and because of that we need to make sure we are supporting and not shaming one another.

One of the ways we can do this is in our response when we learn about another person’s sexual habits. When I tell people I haven't had my first kiss, they generally respond one of two ways. The first way is by giving me a pity stare and automatically thinking I must be stuck up or boring. The second way is actually worse, and they respond with “but you’re so pretty and smart and fun!” I think it’s important to say that no one's self worth should be determined by how far they have gone sexually. I struggled with this for a while, and will admit to a few crying sessions wondering why no one was interested in me. But nothing is wrong with me! I am cute and spunky and an all around awesome person, but that doesn't need to be affirmed by my smashing face with a guy. It does not matter if you have kissed no one or if you kiss everyone, if you are talking about your sexual habits, you should be made to feel good about them.

My final piece of advice is specifically for my fellow lip virgins out there, but can and should be applied to everyone. If you put pressure on yourself to kiss someone, or to do anything sexually for that matter, you are not ready and you will not be happy with the end result. Taking care of your mental well being comes before taking care of your physical desires, so please do not just kiss someone to check it off a list or because of a social norm. Trust me, I’m a rip-it-off-like-a-band-aid kind of gal, so I understand the wish to get it over with and join the rest of the teenager population, but it’s not worth it.

Whether you chose to read this because you are like me, or whether you were just really curious as to how I’ve gone this long without a smooch, I hope this letter made you think about how our culture approaches sexual experiences, because we have a long way to go. If you take away anything from reading this, take away the idea that you should never feel shame for your sexual activity or lack thereof. Trust me, it’s hard to let that shame go, I’m still working on it. But having your first kiss is overrated, because you will have so many kisses in your life, and it is not the one that matters. At the end of the day, you know your lips better than anyone, and you know what they really need.

All this being said however, if you are ready for a good smooch and are tired of sitting back and waiting, it’s okay to be proactive! Get out of your comfort zone! Grab someone you like, tell them their face is cute, and get your smooch on! (But please always get consent first!)