Purpose: we all have one, and usually, it goes beyond our expectations. It will most likely transform over the course of our lives, as it should. My purpose in life versus my purpose in writing this blog are two separate agendas, but they are very much intertwined. Opening up about herpes has allowed me to connect with individuals from various backgrounds. Some are STI+ and have placed their trust in me. Some are social media gurus who just so happen to spend five minutes engaging me in a Twitter conversation. This blog has reopened a distinctly feminist self, which I lost touch with after graduation. While I was still attending college, I had a blog, much like this one. As we all know, days tend to fade together, leaving less time to devote to hobbies we once loved. So I stopped writing publicly for almost two years. This time around, my purpose has shifted. Yes, one of my goals is to educate, but ultimately, I want to start a conversation—and I have been successful in that endeavor thus far. Despite the fact that viewpoints may not change, I am witnessing a conversation where one previously did not exist. That difference matters to me.
This blog was not created on the premise that it would only be read by those who know me personally. My goal has always been to reach a larger audience. When I chose to disclose my herpes status publicly, there was a realization that this is larger than my story. That is how I allow myself to be so open for discussion, for confrontation, for all of the above. I am reminded of the feminist phrase, “The personal is political.” It was drilled into my head throughout my undergraduate career. I loathed hearing it, and writing about it in my papers became a semester-long nag--but I do not think I fully understood its context until now. By publicizing my writing, I am setting myself up for an open critique. Good. Talk about it, talk about me, that’s what needs to be happening. I have always been controversial, and self-admittedly, I enjoy it. I like engaging people in discussions about taboo topics. I like bending the rules set by society and provoking an alternative thought process. For example, when I tell people I am an aspiring sex therapist, there are three distinct reactions:
1) The conservative eye roll and judgment
2) The male puppy-dog, “you must be a freak” gaze
3) The genuine, “Oh wow, that’s unique! Tell me about it” conversation starter
With herpes, I am discovering the situation is much the same. I remain unfazed and am fiercely dedicated to my path. In addition to this blog, there are actions that go unseen in regards to my involvement in STI/herpes activism and awareness. I have reached out to several of my professors from Salisbury University, my alma mater, and will be speaking there later this year. This week, I was invited to be a guest on a local radio show discussing sex. These steps seems small, but they are the foundation for furthering such a platform for sexual education and STI awareness. I am honored to be one voice in a sea of many.