When I was fifteen, I was in full-blown panic mode. I was still semi-new to town, painfully trying to navigate my way around a high school where I just did not fit in (note to younger self from older self, this is a common feeling, and no you’re not a freak). After months of trying to shake the unwanted “new girl” label, I had finally started to settle into a friend group that could help me make it through. One day over lunch we were discussing boys, a typical topic, and I painfully realized that I was the only one who had never had a boyfriend. I had never even been kissed! It eventually happened, but here is what I wish I knew at that awkward moment:
It’s OK to go at your own pace.
I remember being asked on my first date as a humiliating and fuzzy flashback: I had no clue that the person in front of me was asking me out. On a date. After a fumbled acceptance, we planned to go to a movie the following weekend. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, and I felt so behind my friends that I was embarrassed to ask them for first date tips.
After a fun night, my date walked me to my door. My heart was pounding, and I was casually propping myself up against my house, for fear of fainting otherwise. He gave me a hug and said goodnight. Cue the car-brakes-skidding-to-a-halt sound in my head. We went out a few more times with the same end of the night hug routine. “You haven’t kissed yet?!” said one of my classmates, two weeks later, well-after we had the definitive boyfriend/girlfriend talk. Sure I was ready, but also scared. I remain thankful to that first boyfriend, who never pressured or expected anything outside of my own timeline.
It can be magical. But it probably won’t.
What I knew about kissing was a culmination of scenes from classic 1950s movies, tips and tricks listed in teen magazines, and countless hours spent watching angsty WB (now the CW) teen dramas. I imagined my first kiss would come as a passionate pseudo-surprise, a la Veronica and Logan’s first kiss on Veronica Mars or the sweet moment shared between Dawson’s Creek Joey and Pacey on the side of a deserted road.
Building this fantasy up in my head only resulted in anxiety as the days ticked away, and my teen-drama consumption level steadily increased. When my time finally did come around, I was terrified. What if it was awful? Can you be bad at kissing? OMG am I going to be a bad kisser?! And then it was over—an average afternoon, in my driveway. I mourned my violins playing moment at the time, but with age I came to understand that the anti-climactic end to an unnecessarily emotionally frantic time in my life was the ultimate teenage experience.
It’s more fun with the right partner.
I’ve had brief recollections that my first kiss was actually in kindergarten, with the neighbor boy, behind the swing set. But it’s not what I remember fondly. My driveway kiss was a fully formed choice, which I made, in my own time. What makes it special is the fact that I did wait. Waited for the right time for me. Waited for the right person, who made me feel comfortable in what was arguably one of the most uncomfortable moments of my life. I think in the end that put more pressure on myself than anyone else—I wish I had known that this wasn’t necessary. It happened exactly how it was supposed to.
(Image via Warner Bros)