Most teenagers don't think about the consequences of their actions, and when I was 17, I definitely didn't either. As a teenager, I did some pretty stupid and questionable shit (hence how I got an STI). I was no stranger to experimentation with substances and strangers.
I guess you could consider me a romantic of sorts. I've always wanted to fall in love and find someone that loved me unconditionally. Realistically, it's rare to find your soulmate at that young of an age, but I was hopeful. I knew early on that I would likely end up having premarital sex, but I didn't care much about my first time being "magical" with rose petals and a bottle of champagne I stole from my parents (I actually did that once). So I really didn't care about how or who, I just wanted to make sure it would be with someone that cared for me, but boy was I wrong.
When I lost my virginity, there were no fireworks, bells, or whistles, it was just regular sex in a tiny and messy apartment. Unfortunately, sex does not always bring you love, but I thought I could be the exception to the rule. I consider myself a "healer," and I thought that by having sex, I'd be able to make someone realize they loved me. (I also just enjoyed having sex because it's fun and feels fantastic.) This was far from the truth because what I had realized is that sex and intimate emotional connections can be completely separate. I learned this many times from many boys.
As my journey of sexual exploration continued, so did my lack of concern for safety. I am eternally grateful and lucky I didn't receive any other infections or diseases (or a baby) because I was pretty stupid when it came to safe sex. I'd just like to say this, if a guy says he can't get off while wearing condoms, he's more than likely lying or using shit condoms. I've heard this several times, which means I had unprotected sex several times with several people. I'm not proud of my younger stupid actions, but you have to learn somehow.
When I Got the Call
During my senior year of high school I began dating my former boyfriend. We had discussed that we wanted to have sex and I had made the decision to hop on the birth control train, which was long overdue.
Going to the gynecologist for the first time is just as awkward as you would expect. Thankfully, I was not 21, so I didn't have to have a pap smear yet (which are even more awkward, by the way). My doctor did, however, take a urine sample to test for chlamydia—and thank Jesus she did.
I was in my last class of the day when I saw my doctor was calling me. I snuck off to the bathroom because I figured they needed information of some sort. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case. Instead, my doctor had informed me I tested positive. I felt sick to my stomach (it didn't help I was on the toilet either). I had become one of the statistics they tell you about in sex ed (if you even had it in your school, I'm sorry if you didn't). I had so many emotions running through my head because I had always told myself I wouldn't be someone that gets an STI.
Thankfully, chlamydia is easily treatable with one to two doses of antibiotics, which I picked up right after school (that was an awkward pickup from the pharmacy, one of my classmates worked there). I needed retail therapy and a friend—and thankfully, I got both of those. My friend was way more cool with it than I thought she would be and I am so grateful for such a good friend.
I waited two months before telling my boyfriend because I was afraid of what he would think or say. I've been slut-shamed a lot in my day and I was terrified he would do the same. He was very understanding about it and told me it's nothing to be ashamed of. I almost cried when he said that because I had felt loved and accepted by a boy, which in turn, helped me love and accept myself.
A Love Story...
I said this was a love story, and it is, but it's not about anyone else. Getting chlamydia was a wake up call for me because I now regularly get tested and I also use other protection as well. Somehow, getting an STI led me to not only love myself, but also accept that I've made mistakes, and that's okay.
Today, I am 22 years old, and I have quite a bit of sexual, emotional, and intimate experience on my hands. What I've learned is how to take care of myself in all three ways. I've also learned to not waste my time on others that don't care about me. I used to try finding love wherever I could, but I found it within myself instead. It's been a hell of a journey (and a fun one, too), and I do not regret my actions because they helped me grow up in so many ways—and for that, I'm truly grateful.