When I graduated from high school and entered university, I thought that I was, more or less, a full-fledged adult. In retrospect, I was wrong in many ways. Although I was 18 and moving away from home for the first time, I was still very inexperienced. I wouldn’t say I was naïve; I was well-read, kept up with the news, and was aware of things happening around me. However, I only understood the complicated nature of the world in a second-hand fashion.

I quickly realized that social media, TV shows, movies, and books did not prepare me for what adult university life was really like. I assumed that I would join clubs, make friends, go to campus parties, brunch on the weekends, get a boyfriend, and generally be a functioning, independent adult.

These expectations were unrealistic — especially the dating part.

Upon reflection, I realize that a lot of my difficulties matching expectations to reality arose as a result of my introverted nature and quiet personality. If I’m being honest with myself, I’d rather be reading a book on a Friday night than going to a club.

Literature has really shaped a lot of my opinions on romance, relationships, and love. I focus more on emotional compatibility than on physical compatibility when assessing potential relationships. This is particularly difficult in the age of hook up culture, where friends with benefits, ‘situationships,’ and seeing-how-things-go relationships are easier to attain than an exclusive relationship.

And that’s what we see most often in university life: a prevalence of people seeking one-night stands rather than long-term relationships because we’re young and want to ‘see what’s out there.’ University is a buffer between childhood and adulthood, like a second high school, where you can explore where you see your future relationships.

I’m 21 years old, and I’ve learned that sex is not the be-all and end-all of everything.

I always imagined that during my time at university I would have to do certain things so that I could transition from being a teenager to adult. One of those things was losing my virginity.

There’s a perceived milestone timeline that many rush to check off: going to university right after high school, getting a job right after graduation, settling in a career by the age of 25, being married by 26, and having kids by 30.

Losing your virginity falls on that timeline somewhere before your mid-twenties, and even that’s pushing it. In other words, university is supposedly the time and place to get laid, and sometimes it feels like I’m lagging behind.

I’ve thought about having casual sex just to get it over with and to be able to say that I’ve done it, but I know that I could never go through with it, because that’s not me. And that’s okay. I’m 21 years old,  and I’ve learned that sex is not the be-all and end-all of everything. I mean, I’ve made it this far without it, and I’m doing just fine.

I have wonderful friends, I volunteer, I travel, I read, and I’m fairly happy. Everyone has their own ideas on relationships and sex, and mine just isn’t casual sex. I shouldn’t have to compromise who I am for this arbitrary timeline.

Life is not a checklist of milestones that you need to tick off. Nor is there a rule to when you should hit each milestone. In the end, I’m doing what makes me happy, and what I feel comfortable with, because this is my life.