Self-discovery is a crucial part of self-actualization that no one else can do for you. Whether that’s in a sexual context or not, it’s all the same. I learned how to feel through emotions and let that guide me towards what it is I actually want and need. It sounds simple; but growing up in a Catholic Filipino-American household where your individual desire is sacrificed in favor of politesse and assimilation, self-discovery is a radical act.
What does self-discovery mean to you?
Can you describe your relationship to your sexuality?
In a time when sexuality is boundless and cultural norms shift away from compulsory monogamy (as they should!), I am still early in my journey towards decolonization. It’s one thing intellectually understanding that nuclear families are unnatural, arranged to uphold patriarchy and citizen productivity, and yet another thing to separate internalized fairy tales from unbending attraction. Sound messy? It is. But it’s mine to love.
How do you give yourself pleasure?
I take myself on dates, whether I’m single or not. Once I even took myself on a weeks-long honeymoon in Europe, just because I deserved it. From the outside, it might’ve looked lonely — especially if you’re an Italian waiter used to serving big families on a Sunday evening — but for me, it’s the most important relationship in my life and should be treated as such. The more I take care of myself, the more capacity I have to see, hear, and love romantic partners. It’s a snowball effect with very, very hot results.
How do you ask for what you want?
Assuming that I already know what I want (which is half the battle!), I simply ask. I wasn’t always able to do this because, in short, I didn’t trust previous partners with my feelings. If there’s trust, there is communication. And no, it does not ruin or spoil anything.
What I’m navigating now is my desire to let go, relinquish control, and have someone I trust — someone that sees me — take the reins of pleasure. At first I thought it was antifeminist, patriarchal dominance disguised as play, but I now see it as the eroticism of trust.
What’s your favorite part about being a woman?
I am grateful for all the women that came before me who leveled the path. No matter how immense the struggle, I can access this source of power to push forward. Knowing there’s a community of younger women right behind me, I can keep going.
What advice would you have for women early in their self-discovery?
Honestly? Read Communion by the visionary writer and my forever intellectual crush bell hooks. At first it will make you angry, then it will give you the courage to love. It is truly a gift.