I thought I wanted to be a Sex Therapist.
I had a vision of waking up every day to do something unique – something interesting. And I wanted to help others. I know it isn’t exactly the work of Florence Nightingale or Mother Theresa but still helpful in its own way. Repression causes guilt and shame. This could be my way of setting minds free.
To start my quest to help the repressed, I took a course called Human Sexuality during my freshman year of college. The class was small. And unlike a typical classroom setup where you sit side by side facing the professor, we sat at a large oval table facing each other. It felt more like a corporate boardroom where we would discuss profits and losses rather than flaccid penis.
It was awkward to say the least.
I was unnerved that it wasn’t like my other classes. I had hoped that it too would be in a huge auditorium where I could blend in with hundreds of other students. And if memory serves me correctly, most of the girls in this class were seniors and knew each other making it extra uncomfortable for me.
Week after week we sat in our round table meetings talking about a myriad of sex related topics. It was definitely more mortifying than I thought it would be but I managed to make it to the end of the semester. Then we got our final assignment – pick a topic and present it. Not write about but present it. OMG.
I chose female masturbation.
Back in the 90’s masturbation was mostly accepted only as a guy’s thing. It was still considered weird for a girl and I wanted to open minds. But before I get into the mortification of my presentation the logistics turned out to be a story in itself.
I was showing a clip from a an HBO series called Real Sex as part of my presentation so, I needed a TV with a VCR. Yes, a VCR – this was the 90’s. You could check one out at the library. I just had to reserve it ahead of time and pick it up on my way to class. However, when I got there they were out of transport carts. My only option was to carry the TV across campus. I’m only 5’3”ish so, this thing seemed way too big for me to manage. But I really needed this TV. I had made it through the entire semester. There was no way I was giving up in the final hour.
Pitt’s campus isn’t a grassy knoll with a handful of students strolling along. It’s a metropolis with people and cars everywhere. It took me forever to lug this TV down the street and up the hill with my tiny wingspan. I had to shuffle a few steps, set it down, pick it up, shuffle a few steps, set it down, pick it up, etc, etc, etc. The next day I had bruises all over my arms and thighs!
I made it though. And I made it on time. Sweaty, nervous, and embarrassed I started my presentation. I gave my opening, showed a clip of a woman masturbating in a bathtub, and then closed it out. I thought I had enlightened them all. Until the professor asked the group for feedback.
Apparently I didn’t enlighten anyone.
They were seniors. They were in their twenties. The feedback? It reminded them of how immature they were as freshman. Obviously they weren’t as repressed as I’d imagined. But I just managed to carry a giant TV across campus and still arrive on time, stand up in front of a room full of older girls and a professor, and talk about masturbation. That must account for something. I was pissed and humiliated. But I stood tall and kept my mouth shut. Then the professor commended me for doing a great job.
I learned way more about courage, commitment, and determination than I did about sexuality.
Graduating college was a big goal for me and I was going to do what I needed to make it happen – including lugging a TV across campus and embarrassing myself. This hasn’t been the case with all of my goals though. There are a lot of necessary mini steps that you must accomplish along the way and if you can’t seem to tackle the stepping stones, maybe it’s no longer a goal you care to achieve. And that’s ok! Things change. People change. And circumstances change. Evaluate and adjust. But most importantly be honest with yourself!