What I Learned From Losing My Virginity At 13

Photo: Courtesy of the Author
13 year old Kiarra Sylvester

I lost my virginity just a month after turning 13.

I went from collecting Girl Scout badges just a year earlier to having sex. And while I've never really been ashamed of that fact, I have regretted my inability to wait — not for the one but just a better one ... and under better circumstances. 

My first time was not with my eighth-grade boyfriend, but with a longtime family friend the same age who I used to make my on- and off-again boyfriend jealous in our "off" times.

In hindsight, it is painfully obvious how far away I was from "ready to have sex" when I replay the scenario, but my insecurities and possibly uncertainty in dealing with men and everything I had learned from the way my father treated women catapulted me into grown-ass behavior that I was totally unprepared for.

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I wouldn't say I was stupid or naive in the sense of being easily persuaded because no one talked me into it.

At the time, it was what I thought I wanted. But I was immature and so insecure that I was willing to go to any depths in order to cling to a boy's attention, even if it meant handing my virginity away like a state fair prize. 

But what really breaks my heart most about the entire thing is that in the months leading up to losing my virginity, I confided in my aunt about it.

She sat me down and talked to me, and the message still resonates with me to this day, even though I was too young to fully appreciate it then.

What she said was something along the lines of, "You should wait as long as possible (to lose your virginity) because every person that you have sex with will take a little piece of you. The more of the 'wrong' men you sleep with, the less you'll feel like and be like yourself."

She appealed to me as a young adult, instead of talking down to me like I was some child (the worst thing you can do to a budding teenager), and I appreciated that. Unfortunately, as grown as I thought I was, I wasn't mature enough for her message.

At that moment I thought I understood what she said, or that I'd comprehended what she meant on a basic level but it wouldn't be until many years and eight partners later that I actually learned what her words meant.

Now, at almost a quarter-century old, and after years of on and off celibacy that was sometimes unintentional (the first time being for the next year after I lost my virginity), I've had lots of time to reflect on past situations and what I want for myself in the future.

I acknowledged her words as the truth for the first time when I began crying during a later sexual encounter with the eighth-grade boyfriend who was the reason I'd vengefully lost my virginity because of in the first place.

Although we had never really stopped having sex since we'd started in high school, I craved something deeper from someone deeper — intimacy and love — none of which could be found in the type of sex I was having with the men I was having it with.

And after all those years of sex with him, I finally realized how meaningless the sex still was.

Since first having sex almost 12 years ago, I've lost myself in so many ways — from my peace of mind to my vulnerability and self-respect — at one point or another in my life. And my aunt was right: with every new partner who turned out not to be "the one," I began to feel a little piece of my own soul evaporate.

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However, in the name of not living a life filled with regret, I have to recognize that I have come such a long way, and I don't know that I would be where I'm at now without having had those experiences so young.

In a way, I feel relieved to have gone through this issue and faced the heartbreak and super deep-rooted insecurity that made these actions seem okay at the time. 

Although I still struggle with everyday insecurities and my relationship with men, it's nothing as scary and self-destructive as having sex with a guy unworthy of my time or body just to make an ex jealous.

And I know better than to let a man take the best parts of me in that way again — something I wished I had realized sooner — and something I'm still learning to recognize where other parts of myself are concerned, too. 

I'm back on my celibacy kick, and I'm completely satisfied in satisfying myself for the time being until I discover what it is that I'm missing or what I need. I can't say how long this will last, but I'm in no rush to get back in the sack. 

I'm enjoying rebuilding myself and my soul to be whole again and open to love in ways that I never even knew that I could be. 

I'm single, sexless, and at peace.

But also for the first time in a long time, I'm learning a better sense of self-worth than ever before. 

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Kiarra Sylvester, MEd, is the founder of Black Girl Book Collective. She is a sex educator on a mission to decolonize Black women's sexuality.