“Most people are mirrors, reflecting the moods and emotions of the times; few are windows, bringing light to bear on the dark corners where troubles fester. The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows.”  Sydney Harris

Growing into our sexual selves is a lifelong process, much like growing up in general. But because we don’t have a lot of language for our sexual life, we somehow erroneously expect that sex is something we are born knowing how to do. Like any other physical and emotional skill, our sexual empowerment to both give and receive pleasure increases with our education and practice.

Generally we wake up to our emerging erotic consciousness in our early adolescence. This awakening process of sexual empowerment is mostly subconscious, as our maturing brain connects the powerful arousal mechanism to historic and unresolved painful events and relationships. Like our finger prints, or the subtle distinctions in our sense of smell—what comes to turn us on sexually largely evolves outside of our control and often to our surprise.

It is no wonder that the first and often long standing issue that most of us begin our sexual empowerment journey with is; Am I normal? As we come to know what turns us on, even in its most subtle forms, our sexuality pushes our boundaries of normalcy. Our sexual selves are the unique, wild streak in us that won’t be easily contained and whose full pleasure potential is achieved the less we try to control it. Since the biblical verses in the Garden of Eden, human sexuality has been considered dangerous, serpent like.

Instead of healthy dialogue and reliable information about what it means to become and embrace who we are sexually. Our overwhelming curiosity and confusion about our emerging sexual empowerment is often met with archaic religious teachings, generational discomfort of our elders, misinformation from our peers and a bi-polar cultural obsession. The majority of us never have the opportunity to adequately explore the questions that arise from our earliest adolescent erotic awakening. Maturing beyond our initial discomfort requires education, and real sexual education is hard to come by. In many places it is still against the law.

Evidence of our adolescent approach to avoid our sexual consciousness is visible in the typical range of reactions to any discussion concerning sexuality; for some the very mention of sexual education is an outrage, an insult to moral decency. For others, low grade anxiety prevents them from engaging in any real conversations, whether with a friend, doctor or even their partners about their fears and the obstacles they face in growing up sexually. Often, even the more progressive will turn their sexual concerns into a joke, laughing at their discomfort and communicating either that sexual concerns are not to be taken seriously or at least not to be discussed seriously.

What we suppress becomes more powerful. Suppressing our sexual nature only grows our obsession with it. Yet, most of this obsession plays out in uninformed and extreme displays that only distances us from our core sexual nature that is waiting to unfold. We legitimate our unwillingness or inability to have honest and authentic conversations about our own sexuality with erroneous beliefs about privacy. Sexual education does not erase privacy, it enhances it. Asking honest questions about our sexual empowerment and being able to get reliable information allows us to use sexual privacy in healthy ways. Studies show that the kids who are given the most sexual education are the last ones to engage sexually. They don’t need to learn about it by doing it, their learning allows them to make healthy choices about what and when and with whom they want to do it.

Likewise, adults who move beyond their adolescent sexual anxiety through education gain not only the courage to take ownership for their erotic preferences but also the skills to engage in sexual behavior that is consistently pleasurable. Sexually empowered adults are not waiting for someone else to make them feel sexy or give them permission to explore the range of their sexual function. Taking full responsibility for their own sexual needs allows them to also be truly responsive to the sexual needs of others, which makes them attractive partners that tend to stay partnered. Aspiring to sexual maturity evolves a host of other essential skills for life—sexually mature adults tend to also be emotionally intelligent and capable of dealing with life changes.

Our sexual selves are perceived as a locked box of bizarre fantasies and out of control impulses toward carnal pleasure. While it is true that a mature sex life employs these tools for pleasure, working at our sexual evolution is more like developing core strength. Because our erotic identity is so central to who we are, people who have come to terms with this essential aspect of their being are happier and more satisfied in every other aspect of their life as well.

Stay tuned for more articles on sex and growing up, here at Good Clean Love.