Friday, February 23 , 2018, 10:35 am | Fair 53º


Louise Palanker: Puberty and Gym Showers, Thoughtless Teens, Sex Before Marriage

Question from Dylan

Next term in school we are going to the local gym for swimming lessons during class every week. The thing is that I recently started puberty and I am afraid that I am going to get a random boner while I am getting undressed in the open locker room.

I don’t know what to do. I think I am one of the first in my class to start puberty, and I worry that they are going to stare when they see that I have pubic hair down there.

How can I feel more calm and stop random boners in the locker room?


Puberty is an inevitable condition. Every kid in your class will come down with it. Therefore, nobody gets to point a finger.

If you get an erection, cover it with a towel and/or turn away. If someone points it out say, "I won’t look at yours. Don’t look at mine," and laugh it off.

Group showering and acne are just two of the injuries added to the insult of adolescence. Please know that while showering other kids are far too worried about themselves to devote an ounce of energy focusing on you. Everyone’s top priority is to get done and get dry.

The collective shower is difficult for girls, too. They worry about breast size and having their period very publicly. All kids make their way through the mortification of puberty. You will, too.

You may find it comforting to learn that group showering in Marine Corps boot camp is even more unsettling.

Here is the Journals Out Loud cast discussing your question with Greg Cope White, a boot camp survivor and author of The Pink Marine, on our podcast:

(Journals Network video)

                                                                 •        •        •

Question from Cassie

How do you deal with major guilt? I’ll just say I’ve done some things over the past year that I seriously regret. I didn’t think at all during that time, and I guess I’m just the stereotypical, thoughtless teenager.

I hate what I’ve done, and I know my parents wouldn’t approve, but it’s not really something I can talk to them about.

It eats away at me every day until I don’t even know what to do anymore. I tell myself everyone makes mistakes. I tell myself I can’t change it so it’s better to move on, but I just can’t. I’ve strayed so far away from my beliefs that I don’t know who I am anymore.

I’ve learned from it, but I don’t know how to deal with the feelings it left behind.


Generally speaking, we deal with guilt by apologizing to the person or people we have wronged. If you disobeyed your parents and nobody was hurt in the process and you learned from your actions, then there is nobody who is owed an apology ... UNLESS your parents would accept one and listen to you and learn WITH you. Or UNTIL you are grown and out of the house.

If your thoughtlessness led to somebody being hurt, that person deserves an apology. If your crimes were victimless, then you need to cut yourself some slack.

An apology to your parents will only unburden you if it does more good than harm. You can make the decision as to how to best categorize what you did.

Guilt is an emotion that pushes us to do better. Feel what you are feeling and ask yourself what you are supposed to be learning. Learn that and let it go.

Re-read your sentence that says, “I guess I’m just the stereotypical, thoughtless teenager.” You are not alone.

Continue growing up. The more distance you put between you and that behavior the less it will feel like YOU and the more it will feel like young and foolish you. The you YOU will have outgrown. It’s time to move on to your next lesson.

                                                                 •        •        •

Question from Dana

Weezy, I feel upset and depressed. My BF of one year and seven months broke up with me because I want to save myself for marriage. He is 22 and I’m 19, and he says that he wants to do what normal couples do. He wants to be able to express himself with me.

He used to tell me that he would never break up with me because he could never find someone he loves as much as me. And now this.

I no longer go to my mother’s church because of their judgment but I also don’t want to go too far with a guy because I would let my mom down.

I also want to make sure the man I’m doing it with is with me for the right reasons and not for my body. I just feel annoyed and pissed at myself. Do I talk to him ... Or not ... ? Do I apologize and do what he wants ... ? Or do you think this was a sign that he was not for me ... ? I don’t know.


I can not make your important life decisions for you. What I can tell you is that most 22-year-old guys are expecting to be sexually intimate within a loving and committed relationship. He does get to ask for that, and he does get to feel that, in order for him to be fulfilled by a relationship, it would need to include sex.

I’m sure he loves you very much and that this is tearing him apart. What you should ask yourself is this: Are you waiting until marriage for yourself or for your mother?

I certainly do not want you to become sexually active until YOU are ready. But I can tell you that most guys your age will not be willing to wait until marriage.

It feels like you have more or less left your strict church. I don’t necessarily believe that religion and sexual choices need to go hand in hand. But very generally speaking, you will find more guys who, like you, are saving themselves for marriage through your church.

Don’t be angry at this guy. Take that emotion off the table. Understand that he does have a right to feel what he is feeling and desire what he desires. He may even feel hurt and believe that you are not attracted to him enough to be interested in him sexually.

This is a complicated issue. I understand that you were open and honest with him and that it feels like he is changing the plan. The truth may be closer to this: He thought he could do it. He has decided that he just can’t.

You can talk to him if you wish. There is no need for you to apologize. You have done nothing wrong. The two of you have just reached a point of no return unless something changes. Is he ready to get married? There may be more to discuss.

Should you continue to wait for sex until after you are married know that you are not alone:

(Fame Focus video)

                                                                 •        •        •

Got a question for Weezy? Email her at [email protected] and it may be answered in a subsequent column.

Louise Palanker is a co-founder of Premiere Radio Networks, the author of a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age novel called Journals, a comedian, a filmmaker (click here to view her documentary, Family Band: The Cowsills Story), a teacher and a mentor. She has a teen social network/IOS app and weekly video podcast called Journals, built around a philosophy of cyber kindness. She also teaches a free stand-up comedy class for teens at the Jewish Federation of Greater Santa Barbara​. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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