I’m not a quiet guy. The countless number of people who have heard me sing in Burling and the grill will tell you that. I am not afraid to approach someone and start a casual conversation or state my opinion in an argument–dare I say the word?–“extrovert” immediately comes to my mind when describing myself. I am not shy. Yet why does the idea of getting romantically or sexually involved with someone seal my lips with permanent duct tape?

I have always had cold feet with romance. When I was younger I could never express my true romantic or sexual desires because I was closeted up until senior year. While all my straight friends went to prom with their girlfriends or boyfriends, I always went with one of my close female friends in order to avoid rocking the boat. I dreamed of life in college where I could date and/or hook up with guys easily. But once I got to Grinnell I realized that this dream was highly unattainable. My past had conditioned me to keep quiet and not be upfront about my romantic and sexual feelings.

I look on with amazement at those guys at Harris who go up to a girl, start making out and then leave to continue their fornication in the comfort of their own homes. First of all, how does that work? And second of all, why does that work? Now I realize a large factor in this situation is that queer hookups are usually harder to obtain than straight ones; it seems as if I can’t look at a guy and assume he’s gay, but a guy can look at a girl and assume she’s straight and go stick his tongue down her throat? Usually, I stand in the corner, “Perks of Being a Wallflower” style, and eventually leave the party feeling sad and inadequate. Those emotions stem from my inability to be upfront sexually with others and the notion that a weekend devoid of hookups is a failed weekend at Grinnell.

Recently a friend and I had a conversation about our difficulty expressing our needs to others and talked about compromising a part of ourselves to increase the chances of finding something romantically or sexually engaging. All my life I have heard that I should never change who I am for another person. Yet, I must say, it is tempting to alter myself in order to obtain what others seem to get so easily. Upfront people get what they want, simple as that. I know that I have two options–do the impossible and tell someone I want to make out with them, or continue waiting for the “right guy” who “accepts all that I am” to come. As of right now, let’s just say that I feel like Rapunzel waiting for a prince who is only into hairless guys.

Of course I know that people who hook up a lot are not obtaining eternal bliss. All I know is that I am tired of going to parties with my friends as my dates and a celibate college life. This semester I am going to challenge myself to step out of my comfort zone while still maintaining who I am. To conclude and fit stereotypes, let me quote the musical RENT: “Forget regrets, or life is yours to miss.” I am all for a life free of regrets and stepping outside of my boundaries, and I hope this semester that I can finally get the courage to make out with that guy. Once I get an STD, ask me how I feel, but until then, here’s to hoping for courage.