A Letter to My 15-Year-Old Self on Guy Sexuality
At first blush, this might sound like fatherly patter, but let’s shake that notion straight away. You’re me. You were me a generation ago. You’re me — a sophomore in high school learning to drive a stick on the column, maintaining decent grades, and drinking a six-pack of beer with friends whenever you can finagle one. No need to be concerned, that will settle down.
I think concern over a guy talking to himself is over-hyped. I think our own voice is the first and most important voice that we need to hear. So, this is not some kind of “let’s change history because something has gone seriously wrong” type of history intervention. No, this is simply stuff that you need to be able to tell yourself. And stuff that you and other guys need to be able to tell each other.
I don’t have regrets about your sexually formative years (which, by the way, are mostly ahead of you) though it was a little strong on sexual apprehension and guilt. Religion and family do a number on you, don’t they? It is what it is, though, and when you get some new information and then expand your understanding of how that information shapes your life, you grow. I just think that a kid needs all the same sexual information as an adult. Informed, healthy sexuality shapes our lives as kids and as teens. It becomes more difficult later in life.
Talk Sex Whenever You Can
Listen up. It isn’t your responsibility to relieve people of their weird discomfort with sex as a subject of friendly small talk. Sex is a worthy subject in any kind of company. Let other people deal with their hang-ups in their own way. You don’t need to feed their avoidance by suppressing your natural sexual curiosity.
Get the information you need about sexuality from whomever you need. Mom and Dad are woefully inept in this department, yet keep in mind that some shaking up won’t hurt them. Talk to friends for sure. Find guys whom you can trust with the really personal stuff, and tell them what’s on your mind. Their skittishness is their reality, not yours. If it’s important to you, talk. Believe me, gaining the skill to talk about who you are sexually will serve you well for a lot of years.
Respect Your Erotic Fascination
As long as you continue to talk about erotic ideas, you’ll eventually find yourself among both those who confirm your thinking as well as those who challenge it. If you honor your own interest, you won’t be dissuaded by those who seek to shame you for even thinking about sex. But if you keep your thoughts to yourself, there’s a good chance that you won’t find companions who think like you. This is experience talking here, so speak up. Remember that unlike you, most people pack a lot of effort into suppressing their own sexuality. What a waste.
It’s of little value to try to align your thinking with that of those who suppress curiosity, especially sexual curiosity. I think that the fascination of humans with humanity fosters okay-ness with ourselves. We need more okay-ness with ourselves. When others tell you that you’re not okay, keep walking. Your sexual curiosity is beautiful. Don’t exchange it for what is sold as purity, moralistic values, and especially don’t trivialize it. Be curious.
Sexuality is that one aspect of ourselves that is wrapped through soul, mind, emotions, and spirit but is also totally embodied. So, how we feel about our bodies influences how we feel about ourselves sexually. We get a lot of messages about how we should feel about our bodies from those around us. You’ve heard them: You should be thinner; You should be muscular; You should dress fashionable; It’s vain to dress fashionably; You shouldn’t think about your body; You shouldn’t care what your body looks like.
Seriously, respect your own body and your feelings about your body. Your body is one pretty significant way you have the pleasure of expressing yourself for the years you live here. Enjoy the pleasure you experience with your body. Enjoy how your body appears to you. It’s not vain, and you don’t have to change it unless you want to.
So, Sean, I don’t want to tell you how to live, but until people start helping one another feel good about themselves sexually, I think we’ll need to write these letters.
Lighten up a bit. Find people who think like you. And… yes you can, any time you want.
Sean. (You, many years from now.)
Photo — Flickr / Vee-vee
Flickr / ClickFlashPhotos / Nicki Varkevisser