THE TEEN EXPERIENCE: Rising College Junior

Looking back to high school, I can clearly see how poorly timed this boy was. In a
period when I was feeling unprecedentedly small, the flirting and attention he
brought seemed to relieve my isolation; being noticed was a potent but superficial
feeling. However, this boy did not only exist as a remedial fantasy, and eventually, I
could no longer ignore that high school came with expectations of what young men
and women do together. One night, I found myself slightly drunk in an upstairs room
of a random classmate’s house. And as I kissed that boy, every alarm in my body
rang with a siren that told me that this was not what I wanted. So I stopped. I told
him no.

And after I rolled off of him, and slinked my way out of the room, nothing about it
felt unique or empowering. At the time, I thought it would be my social downfall, but
ultimately, even with the charm of being noticed, I knew my boundaries– what I
wanted, and how I wanted to feel. In the few conversations that this moment from
high school has ever come up, people seem to be surprised by my self-awareness
and my ability to say no. Sadly, others have found this “no” to be impressive, and
through these brief moments of hindsight, I have learned to see the value of Shafia’s

Shafia’s honest, inclusive, and engaging lessons helped me to understand my
sexuality on a holistic level. Every day in class, we deconstructed the warped
expectations and pressures surrounding sex, and in their place, I was given the
opportunity and tools to develop my own boundaries defined by my own terms. The
scenarios, games, and discussions in class did not give me the words to say “no” that
night, so much as they showed me that I deserved and was capable of making my
sexual experiences healthy, safe, and fun.

These principles I built in Shafia’s class have proven to be a valuable tools in
navigating the ever-evolving process of understanding my sexuality. In a culture
where sex carries disproportionate social weight, there is a certain freedom that
comes from the ability to have my own relationship to sex, and for me, this freedom
has given me confidence in my ability to consent; knowing the power of my “no” has
allowed me to explore how it feels to say “yes.” As I have changed in my years since
that night in high school, so too have my boundaries, and as I gain more positive
experiences, these boundaries will continue to adapt. However, what will remain are
the lessons learned from Shafia that taught me to see my sexuality as it uniquely
relates to my own life.