I’ve never had my first kiss, never been in a serious relationship, and I’ve never had sex. You wouldn’t guess that if you knew me.
I’m very sociable and have close relationships with a lot of people. But no, I haven’t had my “first time” with anything—or anyone, yet.
There’s a story I’d never told anyone. When I was in middle school, boys constantly compared me to animals like ducks or fish. They used these animals to humiliate me in front of everyone until everyone else started to do the same. They called me “Big Lip Larry,” “Dick-Sucking Lips,” or “Larry Loose Lips.” When I walked through the halls, I would hear whispers that my lips were the kind that belonged pursed around a man’s penis.
I covered these insecurities because there was no one else at school who looked like me. I wasn’t accepted there, so I went online to look up ways to change my lip size and came across a Yahoo Answers thread—where every awkward pre-teen would go to find answers to their weirdest, deepest, and darkest questions. The thread said that if you put sugar cubes on the lips, it can reduce their size.
I did this every day and saw no results. The bullying continued daily- until one day it entered to the cyber-sphere. A classmate, Anne* posted on my Facebook wall totally unprovoked, warning (more like threatening) me to leave everyone else at school alone. Others began writing comments saying I should be friendless, and that no one would ever date me or sit with me during lunchtime.
The next day, everyone was talking about the incident and kept ostracizing me. I wanted to report the incident and told a friend I was going to go to the principal. Unfortunately, this “friend” went behind my back and told Anne. She then convinced five boys to confront me.
I didn’t know who to tell about this situation, but all I could remember was their cruel threat and them assaulting me. I was fifteen (!) years old. My parents constantly came into school and spoke to the principal about the ongoing bullying – physical and emotional.
For six years, I never told anyone this story. I felt like an outsider. The hateful words of others piled up inside my head. I developed my own self-hatred because of the anger built inside me. My full lips, towering height, and small ears were not accepted and this continued, which resulted in my shyness and fear of opening up to anybody.
Then a miracle happened: sophomore year, I came out from my shell and stepped into journalism. I wanted to change myself for the better and got involved in student organizations. Eventually, I blossomed into a leader who loved helping others out with anything.
Over the years, I became sociable and won an award for my outstanding performance when I went to yearbook camp. To this day, it’s my greatest accomplishment. But, the past was still haunting me, not allowing myself to give myself up to anyone because there was a small part of me reflecting back to that memory.
During the summer of 2016, I decided to tell my family about the incident that happened in middle school the summer after my sophomore year at Syracuse University. I went into full self-acceptance mode. I didn’t tour social media. I wanted to accept every mistake I had made, every insult ever thrown at me, forgive those who hurt me and just move on.
I become unapologetically myself. I thought if you can’t want me the way I am, then I don’t want you in my life.
If you knew me today, you would know I always try to embrace myself fully – however, it’s still a process. I have days where I feel insecure, and it keeps me from doing what I want and being who I can. But that’s natural- that’s human. Everyone feels that way every so often.
I realized that my insecurities and the memories of middle school led me to push people away. I know that the resurgence of those memories are big contributing factors in why I’ve never been in a relationship or been physically intimate with anyone. Of course, I have had numerous crushes, but I have never quite been able to put out my fear of rejection.
As a senior in college, I am proud to be virgin and ready to mingle. Realizing that my time here is ending, I am in total control of who I am. My message to virgins is this: you have friends who are more physically experienced than you give the advice to put yourself out there, but sometimes it shouldn’t happen like that. You should never feel obligated to lose your virginity. So don’t feel bad if you are one, I don’t and I understand what you may feel. Maybe you are holding your virginity for the right person, or you’re waiting until marriage for religious reasons, or you want to experiment your sexuality, or you just have really high expectations for yourself. That’s personal, and that is more than okay.