[By Alice Owens]
Of course, back then, just like today, partying in college goes hand in hand with hooking up. In my moody teen days I never had a boyfriend, and all my sexual education came from porn. In other words, I was inexperienced when it came to real people.
When I did enter the real world, sexually speaking, I found that sex on campus sucks. I didn’t arrive at college looking to engage in a crash course of Bedroom 101, but it soon became clear that sex and hookups were happening all around me. I felt pressured to fit in, and I wondered what all the fuss was about. Everyone seemed to be enjoying exercising their sexual freedom, and I was on board with the sexual revolution’s idea of putting women in the driver’s seat. I had just turned eighteen, and my life was ahead of me. What better time than now to experiment? What could go wrong?
Now, years later, I see things differently. I look back on my college sexual experiences and I can see how, overall, they influenced me for the worse. Those years hurt me—in the sexual arena, in interpersonal relationships, and in terms of my self-confidence. Even as I actively seek to heal from them with therapy and self-care, I still have a long way to go. The repercussions of my campus sexcapades continue to haunt me to this day.
[By Alice Owens]
What’s a twenty-something woman in New York City doing living the religious straight and narrow?
I remember a friend bluntly asking me this question one day. Perhaps I had just mentioned that my out-of-town fiancé was visiting and staying on a guy friend’s couch instead of with me. By the standards of the modern world this made no sense. But there I was, happily drawing lines and holding boundaries, doodling pictures on my love letters and innocently holding hands—just living, as I saw it, the way a good Catholic girl should.
I remember thinking that the answers to my friend’s question would sound too earnest and uninteresting. Because I want to live the Gospel? Because I care about following the Ten Commandments? In the greater scheme of things, my desires didn’t seem all that novel. People have been striving to do these things for more than two thousand years. But to spell it out for him would probably come across as evangelizing—and make me sound even dorkier than I needed.
Still, I tried to give him an honest response. He wasn’t satisfied with my quick answers, though. There’s a story in there, he encouraged me. I ought to share it. The story’s already been told, I thought. Over and over again by people trying to follow their faith. Look at all the saints and martyrs throughout Christian history. They chose to live a life that the world didn’t understand, right?
My answers felt true to my heart, but I didn’t realize back then that they didn’t tell the whole story. I didn’t come to my deeper answer for some time. And even if I’d known it then, I would have been too ashamed to share it.