I’m always slightly irritated by people who begin their blog posts with the words ‘sorry I haven’t updated my blog lately but I’ve been really busy with life/work/Christmas shopping etc….and yet I feel tempted to justify my absence in precisely the same way today. The Virginity Project has not worked this hard since 2007. No particular reason. The day job just got between me and my ability to sit down and write something.
Now, at last, alongside the rest of the world, the pace is slowing as we settle into the shortest days of the year, hunker down and spend time with family and friends. I never really think of myself as a writer, more of a sharer of ideas but for today’s purposes, I’ll refer to myself as one. Any writer will tell you that the battle to sit down and write is a constant one. People imagine that writers make an appointment with the muse, sharpen a pencil and out come perfectly composed prose. If only. There is no mystery or alchemy to the process…(except for an exceptionally gifted and quite possibly tortured few). You put the man-hours in at the coal-face and hope that the words come out interesting. If they don’t, you get over yourself and stay there until they do.
Today, I’d like to bang out something about my Renault 5, a car that has travelled many miles with me, physical and otherwise over the last 10 years. I didn’t learn to drive until I was in my thirties. ‘Don’t leave it too late’ said my friend Charlotte. ‘Its harder to learn when you’re older’. Yeah right, I thought. As if that could be true. Turns out it was. It took me at least 18 months of lessons to get past the fact that I was driving a hulking lump of metal/potential killing machine. I honestly couldn’t believe that anyone would put me in charge of a car.
My reasons for learning to drive were unusual as well. I’d had a testing experience in my early 30’s. I had what could only be described as a 3-month anxiety attack. I was horrified by this experience and when it abated, I didn’t want to talk about it…with my friends, with my family, or, as most sensible people would do, with a therapist. I didn’t want to re-live a single second of this episode so I decided I would learn to drive instead.
I had little interest in actually owning a car or the usefulness of being able to get from A to B without walking. I just wanted to do something that would help my head. I thought of it as a physical therapy. Something that might make me more confident or assertive and that was all. What I never banked on was that driving would be such a pleasure, such an adventure and so much fun. Once I passed the test that is. It took me 3 go’s. I cracked it on the final attempt, mostly because I’d bought the Renault and I wanted to drive it.
My chickens really came home to roost when I was let loose on the streets of London by myself. My jaw was almost wired together in those early days; so intense was the combination of excitement and terror. Progress felt slow. Remember those friends who tell you ‘oh, you’ll get to that stage where you drive home and you can’t remember how you got there’. Really? Is there a chance that might happen in the next fifteen years? There are so many firsts when you begin to drive by yourself…your first motor way, your first trip round the Hammersmith one way system (not unlike a cartoon character careering towards Niagra Falls in a barrel. At least that’s how it felt) and yet somehow, just as I suspected, I found out exactly who I was behind the wheel of my car.
Not long after, apropos of nothing except an increased sense of self, I decided to write a book and the car came with me on my trips to interview people. Most memorably, all the way to Lands End and back to interview a tantric sex teacher. I never felt alone. I had my little red car. I’ve slept in it, laughed in it and spent hours singing, cacooned in the tiny universe that is one’s car when one is going on a long journey.
I shed hot stingy tears when I sold it this last weekend. It is hard to say good-bye but I’m excited about the future. I’m excited about new cars and the adventures I’m going to have in them. I’m thankful for the experiences: the good, the bad and the ugly. I’ve always tried to see the plus side of any situation, even a shitty one. I never wanted to encounter ill mental health but ultimately, it pushed me onto a path that has been more full of adventure – and joy - than I ever could have imagined. I’m talking less about driving now and more about the writing of books, blogs and the receiving of emails from people who take the time to write their stories and share them here on The Virginity Project with everyone else. I never, ever planned on writing about virginity loss in a million years (or Big Guys With Small Dogs for that matter) and yet, here we are. I wish you adventures, happiness and joy in 2013, and most of all, the ability to eek the positive out of any situation you find yourself in. You never know where you might end up as a result.
Today’s story-teller titles her story to me ‘24 year old with a virgin slut complex’. The truth is, the complex belongs entirely to the people she meets. She is utterly normal and well adjusted. Its just everyone else that can’t deal with her virgin status.
‘Hello there, I have a story to tell.....I'm a 24-year-old female living in NYC and I'm a virgin. I have no strong religious views that prompt me to abstain from sex and I am not asexual or closeted homosexual. But these are the things people assume when I tell them about my life without sex. Aside from the closed minded people who make these assumptions there are the ones who believe I'm lying. Even my own doctor implied that I was either lying or a lesbian after hearing that I was not sexually active and so I have stopped telling people that I am a virgin to avoid these familiar questions and doubts about my virginity. I omit the fact that I am a virgin on a daily basis and have grown very accustomed to lying about it.
The first time I lied was in high school but that was only because I was afraid people would not be surprised due to my nerdy and unattractive appearance. Since then I have blossomed socially and physically. I lie now to avoid uncomfortable situations for myself and the people around me (its funny how uncomfortable people become when the subject of virginity comes about....assuming they believe you). I really feel like a child most of the time and try to hide these feelings in my everyday life but it is becoming very hard.
Dating is very difficult for me. Finding men my own age that are patient enough to deal with me is near impossible. According to most men I meet I ‘scream sex’ so it is obvious men are very attracted to me and seem to want to bed me all the time - but this always changes upon me telling them about my situation.
After I tell them that I have never had sex they either lose interest or become obsessed with the idea of taking my virginity. In fact the man I am dating right now has done nothing but pressure me since he found out i was a virgin. With all the chances I have had to get it over with I just don't want to yet.....I enjoy physical closeness. I know that I am a sexual being but I haven't found the right person to share this moment with and at the rate I'm going will never find anyone to share this with. Am I unusual? And how can I be proactive about finding that special someone who wants me for something other than just a weird sexual fantasy?’