I like to think that I have a lot of innocence left in me. A little naïveté mixed with downright fear to grow up. A few times before I have shared with you all how becoming an adult scares me as well as how it consumes my thoughts about 80% of the day. I'm sure that this anxiety is natural among recent college graduates who are still in that transitioning phase.
Maintaining one's innocence isn't completely bad in my eyes. In my case, it adds mystery and often makes for a great talking point. On the converse side of things though, I sometimes trick myself into believing I'm not good enough for someone as a result of the lack of experience I possess and not just in a sexual realm. I couldn't be far more from the truth.
Once your innocence it's lost, it is pretty much gone forever. At least that's what us young ladies are told when it comes to being intimate. From youth, it is pretty much forced upon us to wait until marriage because as a child of God that's what we're supposed to do. Sex is the gift that God gives to married couples and the bond that is shared between the two while making love cannot be achieved in any other setting.
Nowdays, sex is viewed as a sport. Boys aren't encouraged to preserve their innocence as they are immune to the double standard where too many sexual partners equates to a promiscuous individual. Instead, they are praised for their sexual liaisons. The girls are the ones who are plagued with that stigma and are subject to punishment or even death is some countries.
I work with at risk teens in a rough area of Chicago's south side. As a young woman who grew up 45 minutes away in the suburbs, you can imagine how much of an adjustment this was for me. One of my roles as a youth coordinator at this center is to be a mentor to the young women, aged 13-17. Weekly, I have the option of meeting with them in a group setting where we can talk about whatever. Basically, give them an opportunity to discuss things they can't otherwise with adults.
On the surface, it seems simple. Now that I'm in it and I know the type of girls I'm dealing with, not so much. For starters, I have to gain the respect of these young ladies, most of which are mothers already. I'm 23 with no children in sight. Hell, not even on the horizon. Then I have to get them comfortable enough with me where they would want to discuss any aspect of their lives with me.
I have never been in this position before. Yes, it's uncomfortable and scary. I'm only a few years older than them and Lord knows they probably know more about sex than I do. Hell, I still haven't had the prerequisite talk about the birds and the bees.
As much as I want to stress to them that it's ok not to grow up too fast, I can't. I want them to know that waiting is actually respected. I want them to explore areas outside their neighborhood. Most of them have yet to leave the city. They are from a completely different world than I am and I have to meet them at their level and try to relate.
Despite my being afraid, I know that this is God's way of bringing out the leader in me. I would love to be looked at as a mentor to all of the girls I work with but if all I reach is one, that's fine too. I know that I won't get that notoriety though being afraid or feeling inadequate. I have to face the fear then fight it.