Sex Isn't Something I Should Have To Feel Guilty About

Throughout the months of September and October, HuffPost Teen is highlighting the way teens think and feel about sex through anecdotes written for our series, "Teen Sex: It's Complicated." All of the authors are teenagers who have agreed to be published anonymously. If you want to share your thoughts, join the conversation here.

By Hannah, 18

To me, the word sex means freedom. Growing up, I went to a super conservative church where it was taught that sex is meant to be saved for marriage. While I went along with my friends to purity classes and rallies, I silently stood back as everyone bought purity rings that they proudly would wear. I told everyone it was because I just hadn’t found the right ring yet, but I honestly wasn’t sure if I planned on saving sex for marriage. I read the books I was given about staying pure and how to resist temptation, but something just never felt right.

As a feminist (a hard thing to be in the church), I found that the purity movement largely focused on girls and how they could keep themselves pure for their husbands. I also read over and over how men wanted the physical part of sex, while women wanted the emotional connection. As a very inexperienced yet hormonal teenager, I felt like this was a load of crap. Still, I went on, pretending that purity was something that mattered to me to appease my parents, talked at school about how messed up the purity movement was (see: Jessica Valenti), kissed a couple guys and went away to college.

College was a game-changer for me. In a sense, I was able to practice what I preached about embracing your sexuality. Within my first week at school, I found a boy to make out with. While I didn’t want to have sex just yet, I enjoyed sneaking around my dorm to engage in various levels of sexual activity with him in places that seemed available to just us (like Study Cubbies). Two months into the school year, I realized that doing sexy things was fun. I had a boyfriend, he liked being intimate with me, I liked being intimate with him. I decided I wanted to have sex.

While I grew up in a conservative household, my liberal self always found ways to make sure I knew what was actually going on in life (thanks, Rookie mag). Thanks to this, I was as prepared as one can be for their first time having “the sex” as my friends called it. I knew it would be awkward, I wouldn’t really know what to do and it sounded fun. The day I decided I wanted to have sex was the day we did it. We both agreed it was the right time. We had condoms and lube. We made sure his roommate wouldn’t come back while we were still trying to figure it out. And while it wasn’t this super romantic experience, it was everything I expected it to be. It was awkward. I didn’t know what to do. It was fun. I didn’t feel like I was a different person afterwards, because I wasn’t. I was just a girl who had had sex.

After having sex, I realized it wasn’t as big of a deal as people make it out to be. It was just a physical act. It can be as fun or emotional or important as you want to make it. After my boyfriend and I broke up, I started having sex with other boys. I would go out to parties, pick someone who I thought was cute, take in a little liquid courage and start my flirting. It was always casual, consensual and I never woke up the next morning regretting it. While I know the thought of this would absolutely terrify my conservative family and friends, I've realized that sex isn’t something that you have to feel guilty about. It’s possible to have sex with someone and not feel like you’ve lost a part of yourself, because you haven’t. If you have sex, you don’t have to feel like you are less of a person, because you aren’t. If you want sex to just be something that you do for fun with people on the weekends, then it’s completely possible for it to be that. As long as you keep it safe, sex can be whatever you want it to be, and that’s something that I think is beautiful and freeing.

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