You can arrive at a certain age, with all the life experience to have survived college, find a job that finally fits, having trekked through many of life’s haunting quandaries, feeling mildly centered with who you are and yet still manage to feel forever 21.
(Ever seen the film The Sandlot? I’m meaning that kind of FOR-EH-VER.)
Maybe everyone deals with this to a certain degree in life, this feeling of inadequacy, of immaturity that follows regardless of how much you’ve proven yourself an adult. (At least I’m secretly hoping I’m not the only one.) Particularly, in the pursuit to maintain one's sexual values aren't quite up to par with cultural norms, a girl can easily find herself emotionally confined in such a box.
In the episode, Single, Female, Mormon and Alone, of The New York Times podcast Modern Love, which explores the complexities of real-life love presented through personal essays and read by notable actors, a 30-some Mormon-raised woman shares on the polarization one easily feels when raised with sexual conservative values:
“Most troubling was the fact that as I grew older I had the distinct sense of remaining a child in a woman’s body; virginity brought with it arrested development on the level of a handicapping condition, like the Russian orphans I’d read about whose lack of physical contact altered their neurobiology and prevented them from forming emotional bonds. Similarly, it felt as if celibacy was stunting my growth;... I felt trapped in adolescence.”
For the young women who has chosen to maintain virginity until marriage, at one point or another, many of us tend to place ourselves in this box. Consider the box, so to speak, this idea of adolescence, or an underaged, unqualified, inexperienced state of being.
It was this box I often put myself in throughout high school, college, even into my adult years. It was as if I cornered myself with the concept that sexual experience is directly correlated with one’s level of maturity or life qualifications. Though I had decided to navigate my sexuality at a young age, for reasons that simply align with what I wanted in life, I at times allowed my preconceived ideals of what is desirable to affect my confidence as a woman.
Graduating college, I think I stepped into life feeling somewhat like a kid - because I was single, wasn’t remotely dating at the time, hadn’t the faintest idea of what I wanted to do with my life, and I was single. (Did I already mention that?) Though even when I did date, I’d manage to find myself back in this same box. Let’s just say a series of short-lived relationships, It was often these seemed to place me in a position of some kind of unspoken oddity when guys would realize “Oh, you’re not that kind of girl.” (Though, odd I very well may be.)
Almost as if a lush were on a first date, just to learn they’re going out with a tee-totaler, the modern dating world simply does not support virginity. Of course, pursuing virginity is odd in our culture. So, I guess I’m saying, if you feel a tad odd in the process, you’re probably doing something right.
Yet the irony of this process - day in day out, discerning your physical actions against the many trying and tempting moments life presents - is that each time you hold to these values, your confidence actually grows. Each time you choose to maintain these boundaries, a more solidified and grounding sense of who you are and what you live for settles in.
Generally speaking, the value of remaining a virgin until marriage can be mistakenly correlated with abstaining from owning any sexual appeal or desire. That in order to be sexy, or merely confident as a complete and whole female being, one has to have had sex.
Granted, avoiding desirable physical contact can do a number on a girl’s sexual confidence - if you let it. When not clearly understood, sexual abstinence has the ability to leave one in a constant pit of self-doubt, a lack of sexual-identity, and even left feeling unfit to be sexy. (As does o.d.-ing on chips and guac.)
But in choosing to navigate your sexuality, against the everyday impulses, confidence is essential. Though if you understand why your sexuality is sacred, and believe thoroughly in the value that saving sex for marriage holds for you and a future man, and can cling to that hope against momentary feelings of confusion and frustrations, confidence will be readily available. Abstinence doesn’t equate ignorance, but an informed and well-developed confidence.
Sexual identity and assurance can be found as much in what you’re not doing, as what you are.