un/learning: what #sexwork has taught me

It was a sunny day, and I just finished another year of post-secondary education. I remember his requests: school girl, innocent type look. I didn’t have any “school girl” outfits. So, I wore a baby pink dress. It was satin with flowers on it. It made my chest look great, admittedly.

When he arrived, I had this knot in my stomach. I just knew that something wasn’t going to go as planned. I never took requests, let alone clothing requests for “school girl” look. *vomit* But this time, I was rushed. It was near the end of the month (like I said, just finished another year of post-secondary education). I needed to make rent. I needed to buy food to eat. I didn’t fully screen him. He tried to contact me before, several times and under different email addresses. Those other times? I cross referenced his  number on bad date lists; I declined his request for a time range I didn’t allow or advertise;  and I learned how to check IP addresses–his was always the same request, similarly structured email and eventually once I knew how to check, the same IP address (he eventually caught on and would change his numbers he provided as screening information I requested). But this time, this one time, I didn’t have time to check all the multiple bad date lists I had access too and I didn’t have time to follow up on all the other screening tools I used. I need to pay rent and I need to buy food.

He appeared from around the corner of the building, which was the same building I lived in. It is a privilege to be able to afford a separate living space and a work space. I had to be extra careful about who I invited into my space. Literally, my only space.

I greeted him at the front door since the front door was always locked and I preferred to leave it that way. He smiled, put his arm around my waist, and then he kissed me. My stomach did flips. The blood rushed to my head and I began to feel anxious about where this date would go.

Everything I know about in life, I know from sex work. The good, the bad, the ugly. And this date, it was most certainly bad and ugly. Fortunately, a “bad” date has only happened a few times. Though there are still some risks that I worry about to this day from my experiences in sex work, it is always this one experience I am reminded of when something doesn’t go as planned.

I am working a summer law job. I enjoy it, thoroughly. I am learning a lot… like a lot. But, in the short time I have been there and in all the things I am learning (personally and professionally), I fucked up. I made a mistake and I had to bite the bullet. “I wholly admit to making that mistake.” Now what? What next?

Whenever I make a mistake, including when things don’t go as planned (as I am a planner), I always look back and reflect on what I could have done differently. I ask questions, what did I do wrong? How did I make this mistake? Where can I improve? And, more importantly, what can I do so that the mistake doesn’t happen again?

Time and time again, it is this date, where it didn’t go as planned that I always return to, to answer these questions. It is this process, the process that I used to overcome this mistake during my time in the sex trade, that influences my experiences as someone who is continuously seeking to learn, grow and overcome the mistakes I made. While I learn from my mistakes, it saddens me that it is these experiences that are the ones that remind myself to stay safe, stick to your guns, and listen to you gut. And for any other fellow law student or sex worker (or both), always listen to your gut but don’t beat yourself up just because you didn’t listen that one time. Learn. Grow. Reflect. Love yourself.

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