Let’s talk about sex, baby. Let’s talk about you and me. Let’s talk about all the good things and the bad things that may be. Let’s talk about sex.

Salt-N-Pepa were obviously unashamed of this topic, but if you are anyone who knows me, I am super uncomfortable when it comes to sex. I always would listen to my friends gossiping about their hook-ups and the details would always make me feel flustered. I was always the innocent one who preached modesty and respecting one’s body. I always kept to myself, but as usual, life changes, people change, and events happen in our lives that shape who we are.

I never imagined in a hundred years that I would be the person to have a one-night stand.

Beyond that, I never thought I would be the person to even consider downloading Tinder. I dreamed of sharing that vulnerable moment with the guy I loved. I wanted it to be with someone I would share the rest of my life with. I always took any type of sexual contact with someone else more seriously than others—it was not until I was seventeen when I had my first kiss. I always liked to be super private about any type of contact—not because I did not believe in engaging in those types of activities, but I did not think that was right to me. I felt like I needed to be with the guy I trusted, believed in, and cared about to even consider getting close to.

But somehow I ended up in the bed of a stranger and gave away my virginity without knowing his last name.

We all have heard stories about others’ first times. We have heard about the couple who finally does it on their year anniversary, or the first hook up of a college freshman, or even the ones who wait until they tied the knot to share that special time together.

But what about the person who hated the concept of virginity so much that she just threw it away as soon as she had the chance?

What about the person who was so confused she felt like her only option was to hook up with someone as soon as possible?

What about the person who thought she never had a choice so she had sex to give herself some kind of definition?

What about my story?

I asked myself those questions and I realized that the individuality of losing my virginity is something that I should not be afraid to talk about. I should not feel ashamed for what happened and I should not have let the night provide a definition of who I am. Therefore, I am going to tell about my experience with losing my virginity. However, my recollection of the night is pretty simple: we had a few drinks, and before I knew it we left the bar and went back to his place. It happened so quickly and immediately after I drove home as fast as I could.

I felt nothing. That was it.

I did not feel sparks. I did not see fireworks. I did not feel like a new woman. I was still me, Becky Smith, and the only thought that pondered in my mind was why I just hooked up with someone I barely knew. I still obviously think about the night to this day, but my perspective has changed. Before, I was embarrassed. I was hurt. I was upset and unforgiving with myself. Now, I have come to the realization that one moment in our lives never defines who we are. One past decision is not a reflection of the person we want to be. People change. People grow. People learn. People live and deserve to be unapologetic for traveling on windy roads to get where they want to be.

I still believe that everything has a reason and that God has a plan, even though I question the decision I made that night.

I honestly thought that having sex with my Tinder match would make me feel better and solve what has happened in the past.

Part of me thinks I wanted to do it after the sexual assault. I will never be able to answer this question, but since my first time having sexual contact was the rape, does that mean I lost my virginity to my offender? I think I may have wanted to be able to concretely say, “Yes, I had sex and am not a virgin,” instead of always fluttering in the confusion about whether or not the assault counted. I wanted to be in control, and that was how I did it.

However, since none of my emotions changed afterward, I thought maybe I just needed to have sex with someone I knew. I thought maybe I needed to connect a little deeper before engaging in intercourse. So I did what “everyone” does in college and hooked up with a couple other guys.

I would repeatedly have sex and leave, not knowing the person that I was. I did not feel happy, and I felt like I wanted to escape out of my body and go to a different place. I wanted to feel at peace and relaxed, and I never did after having sex. I am not saying that because I want those guys to feel bad. I actually believe they have really good hearts and pure intentions deep down, no matter how I have felt before.

What I am saying is that having sex was not the right decision for me. I frequently made those nights about all of the guys I was with, but all of this time the connection is myself, and who I want to be. I was not staying true to who I was, and that needed to change for me to be happy.

So what is the point in me sharing this story? Perhaps I want to let you know that I regret hooking up with one of my Tinder matches? No, I do not regret any of these hookups, even if I never want it to happen again.

Instead, I want people to know that your past does not define you. I want people to know that just because someone may have taken something so sacred from you, you never meant to give it away; therefore, in your heart, it still is yours. I want people to know that it is never too late to decide you want more for yourself, that you deserve more for yourself. I want people to know that you do not have to fit the mold of what everyone thinks you should be, and you ultimately decide what is right for you. I want people to know that even though you may have made a decision you are not proud of, you still are a beautiful person.

I want people to know that losing your virginity does not change your heart, your soul, or your worth.

We spend so much time beating ourselves up for decisions we have made. Why can we not be more forgiving to ourselves, especially when we would not hesitate to do the same for others? Using Tinder to lose my virginity has taught me that there is no shame in making mistakes. We all fall, but the importance lies in how many times we get back up. I want people to know that I have been to that place: feeling empty and forgotten and isolated from the world. Even though that is a dark place, there will always be a light.

Do you know where that light comes from? The light is shone from your heart. You just have to stay true to yourself. Remember that the past is the past, and as long as you learn from it, you are going in the right direction.

Follow your heart, and stay true to yourself. You will find that you are your own happiness.