If you knew me as a child you would never guess that I would grow up to own a sex shop. I was a shy, modest kid, and as I got a little older I was embarrassed by any conversation around sex and the body. I would actively avoid going down the feminine hygiene aisle, despite growing up in a household of all women.
The biggest catalyst of my coming of age, and learning comfort with my body, was when I began to leave home and explore the world. Travel forced me out of my shell, took away that cozy comfort layer, and exposed what I could be and who I wanted to be. When I change my physical location, I am also transported internally. Travel forced me to believe in and appreciate my body, and I began to open up to new ways of recognizing the many amazing things it does.
A number of things inevitably go wrong when you are in a new place, and the only thing you can count on is your own self. This instilled a confidence and resilience in myself that I didn’t know how to learn otherwise. I started noticing a boldness and confidence coming out when I traveled. It helped strip away my sheltered innocence, showed me a broader picture of the world that I had always yearned for. The self-sufficiency I gained while traveling is one of the most important, and sometimes difficult, pieces of my story.
Don't get me wrong though, this newfound independence is not always a positive. It has caused me to rely on escapism, and has given me a chronic restlessness. I struggle to settle in one place and make lasting romantic relationships. Now that I have realized how thoroughly I can care for myself, I find it difficult to let others in. I've resented past lovers for holding me back, left others because I was seeking the unknown rather than comfort and stability, and often have looked back wondering if it was a mistake.
People tend to assume that because I own a sex shop I have a wild sex life and multitudes of hilarious and bizarre dating stories (well, ok, I have a few weird ones- who doesn’t these days?). But in reality, I hate the beginning stages of dating. It elevates my anxiety and often feels like a waste of time. My happiness with being single makes it difficult to want to deal with swiping right, awkward small talk, playing games of who's going to text back first, and of course, being ghosted. I'm not good at being vulnerable with new people, but starting this new unexpected chapter of my life is helping. Sharing this little part of me was harder than I imagined, but hearing the stories of others everyday is incredibly inspiring. The womxn of Denver have gotten so open and raw with me in Awakening and have opened my eyes to how courageous it is to be vulnerable. Our stories are important and should be told, no matter how big, how little, how heartbreaking, or inspiring. Thank you for trusting us with your stories.