A Pep Talk From Your Favorite "Slut"

“Yeah, everyone said you were a slut.” I couldn’t have been more surprised if someone had punched me in the face. Frankly, he might as well have because my head was spinning. This past week, an acquaintance from my past reappeared in my life, and as you can tell, he didn’t really start out the re-acquaintance on the best foot. Now, he lacks decorum, manners and good taste for insulting me like that, especially within the first few minutes of realizing that we knew one another previously, but I made a mistake when I relinquished control of my self-worth to his statement. A wave of shame enveloped me and dragged me down the rabbit hole of self-doubt and self-loathing. My consciousness was haunted with, “Am I actually a slut? Well, there was that one time…” and “What even is a slut in 2017? Do sluts even exist anymore given new social standards, and if they don’t, is that such a terrible thing?” I find it remarkably odd how someone from the past, even a person I barely knew, could waltz back into my life and completely reverse how I’ve come to know myself. In an instant, all of my growth over the last four years vanished; I was back to my sixteen-year-old self, trembling from the permanent draft that haunted my being when I was recovering from anorexia, and standing on the precipice of my sexual awakening.

I am reading the book, Free Play by Stephen Nachmanovitch, who is a famous instrumental improvisationalist. For those of you who don’t know, Free Play serves as a type of creative Bible that many artists seek for inspiration, myself included. In it, he develops the phrase an “old assortment of funny-shaped selves” which really spoke to me given the way I’ve perceived others’ feelings on my sexuality. All of us have past versions of ourselves that, perhaps, we aren’t super proud of, but those “funny-shaped selves” contributed and led us to who we are today. The process of becoming your most authentic, true self-takes a lifetime and is usually painstaking, but that’s what makes it worthwhile. This five-second exchange between this almost stranger and I that singlehandedly managed to derail my self-confidence indicated to me that I wasn’t active in my personal growth as I previously had been. That bothered me most of all.

For those who faithfully read my articles, thank you for indulging me, as I needed to write this for myself. Hopefully, it can serve as a reminder to all of you that life is more fluid than a label or a series of labels can describe. As Eleanor Roosevelt advised, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” It’s 2017 people. I say let your freak flag fly if that is most authentically you. Who is anyone else to say what is or isn’t right for you sexually or in any other arena of your life? Don’t let the barrage of judgments that come your way from others, but especially from yourself, keep you from stepping into your greatness. I’ll leave you with the wise words of a dear friend of mine, “Slut is not part of your identity. It may be a phase in your life, something you choose to do, but it doesn’t define you. It does not define your character.”