When I was 17 years old, I wanted to have sex very badly. Not really in the American Pie way, and not even really because I was that horny, but mainly because sex felt like the cover charge to the next level of adulthood, and I wanted in. So, I read every book Judy Blume had ever written, developed a feminist-approved vocabulary, forced my OBGYN to confirm that my vagina was normal looking, and thus determined I was "ready," which is sort of like saying that Thanksgiving dinner is ready after only buying the ingredients. Here is where I kind of compare myself to a raw turkey and I'm mostly fine with it.
Despite my readiness, it never happened in high school and didn't even really come close, and this plagued me with anxiety. It was rumored that a senior year spring break vacation to the Bahamas that the majority of my peers went on was the place to find someone and "just do it" if you hadn't already, and while I'm sure Nike is flattered that we borrowed its slogan for such noble causes, I didn't go on the trip, so it didn't happen for me.
By the time I got to college as a freshman, I was ashamed and embarrassed that I was still a virgin and did the only thing I could to make myself feel better: I lied. I thought about my homegirl Judy Blume and sort of rationalized that if I had read about teenagers having sex and if I basically knew what the anatomy was, then I was basically not a virgin anymore. I still had some questions, though. Like I had one very prominent nipple hair and WAS THAT NORMAL?
So I created a narrative for myself that I was proud of not only for its adventurousness (I told everyone about a steamy one-night stand I had with my ex) but also for its realism (I bragged about a time a guy "couldn't get it up" for me and then fell asleep.) I had a fake sex life that was barely adequate and I was loving it!!
Having a fake sex life is, unsurprisingly, very damaging and confusing. When I hung out with guys at parties, they assumed that going home with me would be no big deal on account of me being a cool girl who had already lost her virginity, meanwhile I had a constant news ticker scrolling across my brain that went a little something like, "WHAT DO I DO WITH MY KNEES? WILL I BLEED? DO I HAVE THE CORRECT NUMBER OF HOLES?" that I hid under the cool facade of going "this beer is great" when it wasn't.
Once a group of older, cooler friends were playing a game called "Sex vs. Chocolate," where they ranked and rated different kinds of sex against different kinds of chocolate. I was an expert in the latter and clueless in the former, but I remember playing along while inventing new lies for every answer. When we ranked "doggie style" against "warm brownies" I compulsively went "brownies!" while everyone looked at me with utter confusion, and I covered it up by going, "you didn't know my ex!" and everybody laughed while my hymen gently wept.
Eventually, it happened for me when I was a sophomore, after I went home with a guy I was borderline in love with and screamed "I'M A VIRGIN" followed by him going, "that's great, but I asked you what your favorite color was." He later had some follow up questions because he'd heard me discuss my fake sex life at length and I assured him that none of it was even a little bit true.
Most of me lying about sex is my fault for being insecure, but I'll also transfer some of the blame to the world around me. Like how it was very hard to be a sex-positive feminist who wasn't having sex, because I was around women who associated sex with being liberated, and thus not having sex meant I was somehow restricted or bound. Really, it just didn't happen for me until later than I expected, which is neither good nor bad and it really doesn't matter.
Some of the blame also goes to whomever popularized the concept that a woman's first time is a gruesome bloodbath. This myth caused me to take up running before college in hopes that I'd break my hymen and spare some man this damage, but it didn't work because I hate exercise.
Sex was something that I wanted to experience and felt ready for, and I was genuinely pretty pissed off that it was a milestone that required another human. When I wanted to try alcohol for the first time or drive a car or ride the subway by myself, these were decisions that I got to make because I wanted to and I was independent, and unlike sex, they never required someone else thinking I was hot for me to do them.
When I had sex, not much changed. The world didn't look different, I didn't get VIP access to a club where everyone was like "now you get it!" and handed me a velour jumpsuit that read "Members only." No one treated me differently and to my surprise, my primary care physician did not drop down a celebratory banner during my annual check up when my number of sexual partners went from zero to one.
So, don't lie about sex. If you think you've had too much, if you don't think you've had enough, if you hated it, if you liked it -- just don't lie about it. It's one of the few things that iPhones and Trump haven't ruined (I think?) so just be honest and have fun. Do it if you want to and if your partner(s) are consenting; don't do it because you think you have to, everyone's too freaked out about their own weird bodies to be judging yours.