Growing up, I held myself to the most ridiculous standards – aspiring to be like the teenagers in my school and on TV shows such as Skins. I was extremely shy, socially anxious and depressed, but that didn’t stop me from craving to fit in. I spent a lot of my time dreaming about that cliched white knight in shining armour coming along to date me and save me from my situation.
When I look back on my early teenage years at the things I used to cry over – parties, alcohol, and boys mainly – it makes me more angry than sad. I considered myself a failure and completely worthless, because everyone around me was bragging about their sex life and all the parties they had been invited to. Whereas at 14/15 I still hadn’t even had my first kiss. I remember that awful sensation of embarrassment whenever I heard people insult others for having never been kissed – because it felt aimed directly at me, even when it wasn’t.
On my sixteenth birthday, I considered myself a failure because I wasn’t ‘cool’ or ‘pretty’ enough to have lost my virginity underage. It was something that everyone around me was doing, and I felt like if I could somehow do it, then I would be able to magically fit in. In hindsight, I’m extremely glad it didn’t happen, but back then it felt a bit like the of the world. I could not find a reason to like myself, and it felt as if everyone around me felt the same way – I didn’t have any redeeming features.
From the age of ten until around fourteen to fifteen, I would get a diary. It was never something I wrote in long term, a diary entry here or there at most. Nonetheless, every year without fail I would hurriedly rush to the page where my birthday was, and scribble down how I wished to have a boyfriend by then. It was my ultimate goal, it was all I aspired to have. It was the only thing I could think of that would give me value – not the work I did, not the achievements I had, nor my intellect. Every year it would fail to happen, and every year I would add it to the long line of reasons as to why I had failed as a human being.
At school, I had boys in my year laugh and joke about how their mates were attracted to me – because the idea of someone actually wanting to date me was so horrific and unimaginable. I had boys confess to their friends that they felt embarrassed that they thought I liked them, because it was somehow a knock to their ego that someone like me would be interested in someone like them. I felt so separated from the boys in my year, wanting to distance myself completely from them whilst also praying that I would get a boyfriend.
I vividly remember a conversation with my ‘best friend’ at the time, we were talking about a guy whom I liked. Instead of being supportive in the fact he wasn’t interested in me, she informed me that I should get over myself. That I should expect this because guys are always going to prefer other people to me. Even to this day whenever I remember it, it strongly hurts. It has rung so painfully true throughout the years – I could never be enough for someone.
As I got older, the embarrassment of having never had sex nor a relationship grew. At eighteen years old, I had a girl at my college start a ‘game’ where people would discuss and rate their previous sexual encounters. She rattled off a long list of attractive guys who she had slept with, or wanted to sleep with her. I was next, which was where the problem arose. “Oh wait” she laughed (or something along those lines “you’re still a virgin!” The rest of the group laughed, and I just sat there wishing the ground would swallow me up. Regardless of its intentions it really wounded me because it was something I was so insecure about. Even now I still see virginity being used as an insult. As though it is something inherently bad. Growing up I felt as though my virginity was shameful, and something that I should ‘get rid’ of as soon as I could.
Being single hurt a lot – I mean, who doesn’t want to spend time with someone whom genuinely cares for you? Who wants to experience life with you by their side? The main thing that hurt was feeling that I was not worthy of love. That I was not someone valuable or worthwhile. That there was so much about me that I needed to change, but I didn’t know what or how to do it. I wanted to prove them wrong and prove myself wrong, but I could never seem to do it.
I am now twenty years old, and I still haven’t found that elusive boyfriend. However, one thing has dramatically changed – I no longer care. I no longer find myself buying diaries to set myself the goal of being in a relationship. I no longer find myself wishing on stars, or looking for the clock to turn 11:11 in the hopes of somehow magicking a gentleman into my life. My goals in life have changed so much, and my world no longer revolves around my relationship status. I want to learn things, I want to gain new skills, I want to travel to exciting locations and do what I love. I have found myself being able to base my value off of my achievements, and I no longer consider myself so worthless like I did before.
I might not have yet had a boyfriend, but I have battled with Depression and Anxiety and haven’t given in. I might not have been wined and dined by a boy, but I have found the courage and strength to return to writing – even managing to get some of my work published on the likes of the Huffington Post! I have been able to travel to exciting countries, and attend music festivals and now I’ll be moving countries by myself! I have pulled myself up and out of bed, and forced myself to work and go about my day, when the thoughts of suicide and self loathing were so strong that they were deafening. That is far more important than any relationship goal – I just need a reminder now and again, that’s all.