Setting off on my first university summer as a single woman, I decided that I was going to have a peaceful and healing summer, focusing on myself before heading on my Erasmus year. The past academic year was full of disappointments and as much as failure is needed for all of us to learn and grow, they still hurt. This summer, I was planning to keep my head down and enjoy what time I had left in Dublin with my friends.
I did not consider the dangers of three double vodka red bulls.
“What followed next led me to consider the effects of pornography on young men and brought forward a feminist rage from within.”
I am a 21 year old trapped in the body of an old man, and I try every night to get my full 10 hours of sleep. My friends, however, are youthful maniacs who are eager to go out. Every. Single. Night. As a last resort on a night out, we ended up in a club on Camden, where I found myself in the arms of two separate men (and I won’t lie — I thought they were the same person in the darkness). To cut a long story short, the one whose name I caught ended up being the one I brought home. What followed next led me to consider the effects of pornography on young men and brought forward a feminist rage from within.
After the wholly unpleasant experience, I shook my head, changed my sheets and vowed to myself to not do THAT again.
This promise did not last long. By the next Big Night Out, I had dusted myself off and was ready to brave the night once more. At this point, my promises of celibacy and only sleeping with people who respected me had long been forgotten in a haze of Love Island-infused horniness. My friends and I headed out after a day of celebrating Pride and, after a much-needed pit stop in DiFontaines pizza takeaway (trust me on this recommendation), we ended up in a gay bar. Here I promptly embarked on my tour de force of Dublin city’s biggest gathering of the LGBT+ community. I then had my first proper gay experience and, despite a sizeable age difference (try 17 years) between us and the fact that it turned out that she was living on the same street as me, it was nice and validating to finally resolve 20 years of uncertainty and confusion.
“However, as a wise woman once said, do it for the plot.”
When one of my best friends returned home the next week, we went out to celebrate. Being a Monday night, we weren’t expecting anything too interesting, but in order not to cut the night too short (and oh I should have…) we ended up in the type of place that is a self-proclaimed “Dublin Creatives” haunt. About an hour in, my dear chain-smoking friend, having gone through half a pouch of Amber Leaf, decided to ask strangers for spare cigarettes. Given the bar we were in, they only had to turn 10 metres to find a suitably lonesome-looking man in the corner. They made polite small talk with the stranger until suddenly they shouted out, ‘Oh my god! You’re in [name redacted]?!’ Immediately inviting him over to our table, he picked the seat next to me, and I could see how the evening was going to unfold. For a man in a medium-successful band, famous among indie arts students and TikTok users, he was fairly dull and pretentious, mansplaining my own culture to me and not asking me a single question about myself. I passed yet another mediocre evening, albeit this one in a nice hotel. However, as a wise woman once said, do it for the plot.
Right in the middle of it all, through a combination of Hinge dates that went better than expected and random encounters at bars, I met some truly lovely individuals that I really did connect with this summer. Intimacy was easy and kind with them; we laughed, they made me breakfast, we promised to stay in touch despite the ocean that would soon be between us. Unfortunately, my ever-looming Erasmus did cut off some of these budding romances prematurely; but hey, maybe it will be a good thing, going away with no strings attached, or baggage (aside from the monster of a 30kg I am currently lugging around the airport). An old adage that my granny swore by, “what’s meant for you won’t pass you by,” has always stuck with me; I just need to breathe and remember that ultimately I will end up where I’m supposed to be.
“The “hot girl summer” that I had was liberating in that I accepted that I am now ready for a new year, with new mistakes and love and everything in between.”
In the midst of all of these stories of regrettable hook-ups and bad decisions, I did learn a thing or two. Clichéd as it sounds, the most important person to love in your life is yourself. I am, believe it or not, an idealist at heart and despite my seemingly anti-romantic stance at times, deep down I do think fondly of finding “the one”. Each and every time that I meet someone new, I let my imagination run away with me and I conjure up nighttime fantasies of three kids, a dog and a house by the sea. Unfortunately, my 37 year old neighbour already had a house in Dublin. Bridget Jones is my ultimate comfort film, and I have an especially soft spot for a good enemies-to-lovers trope. Despite ultimately having a summer of meaningless sex, I found a softness and patience for myself that was not there before. I allowed myself to explore my sexuality. I took care of myself and said kind things to myself in the mirror; I felt good about who I was and my place in the world, even if things the day before had not gone exactly to plan. I now leave Dublin with a newfound appreciation and love for myself, which I think would not have come as easily if I had spent the summer beating myself up for past romantic mistakes. The “hot girl summer” that I had was liberating in that I accepted that I am now ready for a new year, with new mistakes and love and everything in between.