The main question people ask—or struggle not to ask—when they hear someone is a virgin is: “Why?”

Well if you ask me, I’ll say self respect. If you ask my parents, they’ll say I’m gay. If you ask my sister, she’ll say: “well, she never gives anyone a chance.”, If you ask my ex-bestfriend: “No one is interested in her.”  If you ask my exes—Wait—I actually don’t know what they would say. They all don’t talk to me.

The problem with having so many people with an opinion about your life is the effect they have on your reality. I’ve caught myself multiple times wondering if it’s true that I’m actually gay as my cousins and parents say, or that I’m just not beautiful enough as my EX- best friend constantly insinuated.

Truth is, I’m neither of these things. Their doubts made me doubt myself so much that I tried to test my mind to see if I’m gay, and here’s how:

Every crowd I’d go into, I’d look around for a girl I’d deem pretty. Imagined myself liking her and my love life with her, but it did not work. My heart wasn’t moved. I didn’t feel anything. Nothing close to what I feel when I see Jake walk across the  company hallway with his perfectly combed hair, tailored dark suit, and glass-shiny black shoes. My heart does all kinds of dances every time he looks my way with a smile that forms perfectly on his beautifully shaven square face as he offers his “good morning” nod.

Yes, I have a crush. But before we get into that—

Doubt #2: Not beautiful enough. See, I’m not going to blame my best friend—ex—fully for this. Growing up every single person I met told me how beautiful I was, or exclaimed to my mother about the beauty that is her daughter, to which she always replied, arrogantly: “but of course, look who gave birth to her!”

My mother is a beautiful woman, so I always told myself that if I look even close to how I see her, then I guess I’m really beautiful.

That—that was until the day my dad assured me, in no uncertain terms, that I’m ugly and in no way shape and form of way would I come close to the beauty of the “American girls/women”. He was very sincere as he told me this so I had no reason to doubt that what he said was true.

Maybe I’m beautiful in my country, but very ugly in America?!

See this is the stupidity I never want to entertain in my brain, but somehow, sometimes, it always finds a way. And I hate myself for ever allowing my brain to think this, but what am I supposed to think when currently,  majority of the men that hit on me are either twice my age,  shameless married men, or young republican boys trying to prove they can be “open-minded” by dating a black girl. I’ll tell you more about that later.

To the core of it all, all doubts and people’s opinions aside, I think the actual reason I’m still a virgin is because of the need to prove, to my mother, father, and to myself, that I’m not a slut.

Before you all jump on me right now, I do not think that the people who are not virgins are sluts. No, I don’t. I do think, however, that the men who take your virginity without any commitment do go to their boys in their “locker room talks” and call you sluts. With my experience, I’d be foolish to think otherwise.

At age 13, I remember being allowed to go to my mom’s for the 3 week school vacation. This was something that always made me happy because she had a very beautiful big house, tones of new clothes for us, kitchen  always full, and a driver ready to take us anywhere we wanted to go for ice cream, movies or plays—things that made any kid my age happy at that time.

When I got there, I met my mom’s new boyfriend who I initially avoided not only because he was way younger than her and I didn’t trust him, but because I’m horrible at talking to new people until I mentally find a place for them in my life. It wasn’t long until I found his place: The guy who’s going to teach me the piano. I saw him playing and he was pretty good! I’ve always loved to learn as much as I possibly can and know more than anyone else around me, so finding this opportunity in him was excellent for me. Almost suddenly, his relationship with my mother ceased to bother me because honestly, how exactly was it negatively affecting me? And if it’s her money he was interested in, how was it my business? So I started to enjoy his presence. Instead of hiding in my room all day, I sat in the living room with him and played with him. One of those days, mom came back and found me giggling. I can’t remember what he said, it was probably not even that funny, but everyone who knows me knows I giggle at alot of things that other people don’t find funny and vice versa.

Through my giggles “welcome back mom…” excited, I said as I got up to give her a hug. Next thing I knew, my tiny body was slammed back to the ground by what I believe was her arm rejecting my hug.

“Go to your room right now…” She said angrily. Her arm creating an arrow-shaped path to my room. A path I hurriedly took with no hesitation. “And don’t you ever seduce my man again! Slut!” Her words echoed through the hallway.

I never understood what I did that made her so angry that day, but being called a slut, by my own mother, surely hurt. And from that day on, I became the master of saying “No”.

Any boy that asked me out in highschool “No”, Work “No”, college “No”. It just became part of me. No way was I becoming the slut that my mother thinks I am or the slut that my father says my mother turned us into.

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