I Didn’t Date In High School And Now I Feel Like I’m Playing Catch-Up

I was a late bloomer and didn’t date at all in high school besides taking a date to prom. I was an awkward, shy teen who found dating super scary and now that I’m in my twenties, I feel like the whole world is my oyster.

  1. I went through a notable slutty phase in my early twenties. Every late bloomer can relate to this. When I was about 21, I was having sex with ALL the boys and my standards were super low. I wasn’t even trying to get a relationship out of them, I was just wanting to find out what intimacy felt like, specifically physical intimacy. Didn’t really matter who he was, how old he was or what he looked like—if he wanted to bang, I was down. I had a lot of catching up to do, after all…
  2. I’m a lot less shy now. I used to be super shy when it came to dating. If I liked a guy or knew a guy liked me, I would hide away in my shell. For some reason, I felt unworthy to be loved or admired by a man and although I still kinda feel this way still every now and then, I’m way less shy than I was in my teens. I actually have the courage now to approach a guy and tell him I like him, which is something I would have never been able to do 10 years ago.
  3. I’ll date someone just for the experience. I feel like dating in your teens is meant to teach you what you like and then when you’re in your twenties you start to get more serious about who or what type of person you’re looking for. Well, for me it was a little different because I started that phase when I was about 23. Once I got all the casual sex out of my system, I started to think seriously about what I actually want from these guys.
  4. I have this need to make up for lost time. I feel like I probably had, like, double the amount of sex than the typical 21-year-old would’ve had just because I wanted to get as much experience as possible so I can catch up with my other friends of the same age. I figured if I do as much as I can, as quickly as I can, I won’t be so left out in conversations and feel awkward when sex and dating comes up.
  5. I used to be literally terrified of boys. I remember when I was in high school, my friend came up to me and told me that a guy she knew had a crush on me. I didn’t get excited like the typical teen would probably do—I got scared and wanted to avoid whoever this person is like my life depended on it. I know it doesn’t make much sense to be more afraid than excited when a boy likes you, but I was just a really shy and anxious person at the time.
  6. I still kinda am, to be honest. Honestly, that scared little teen hasn’t completely gone away. I catch myself sometimes just randomly getting scared of guys who are trying to pursue me. Still, it’s a lot easier to accept male attention now than it used to be.
  7. I always used to feel left out when all my high school friends would talk about their crushes. For some reason, I felt weird talking about my crushes in high school, like I shouldn’t be objectifying people in that way. It felt wrong to me to acknowledge that I thought a boy was cute. When my friends would ask me, I’d just say that I didn’t like anyone even though it was obviously a lie!
  8. I had some bad experiences with men in my past. I recognized later on in life that it’s really not normal to be this scared of dating. I chalked it up to a bunch of negative experiences I had with men as a child, mostly related to physical abuse. I saw men as being scary and unpredictable and brought that into my mind as a teen. For some reason, I couldn’t trust them, but I’m working hard now to work past that.
  9. My mom didn’t want me to date. I always got the feeling that my mom thought dating in high school was inappropriate and since I was the kinda kid who didn’t want to get in trouble, I abided by those rules. I could have easily broken them but it just wasn’t in my personality. Now that I’m older, I’m breaking all the rules because she’s not here to judge me anymore.
  10. I’m a lot more optimistic about dating than my friends. I still see love as this fairytale-type thing, which usually gets retired for most people after their first bad breakup. Since I never had a relationship until AFTER high school, I was almost annoyingly hopeful about my future. I’ve since settled down about it and no longer believe that every guy I meet is a knight in shining armour. I finally get what people mean when they talk about how innocent young love is.
Jennifer is a playwright, dancer, and theatre nerd living in the big city of Toronto, Canada. She studied Creative Writing at Concordia University and works as a lifestyle writer who focuses on Health, B2B, Tech, Psychology, Science, Food Trends and Millennial Life. She's also a coreographer, playwright, and lyricist, with choreography credits for McMaster University’s “Spring Awakening,” “Roxanne” for the Guelph Contemporary Dance Festival, and “The Beaver Den” for The LOT, among others.

You can see more of her work on her Contently page and follow her on Instagram @jenniferenchin.
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