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I began the journey of change from girl to woman in a boarding house full of hormonal teenage girls. Together we experienced the same transformations in our bodies, minds, and souls, we were becoming women. Thanks to the hormones in particular we shouted, fought, cried and hugged, usually in that exact order.

As we grew up we sang and laughed together as we fell asleep under the same roof each night. We wrote long letters to each other, talked about boys in great detail and wished for the day we would fall in love. Every detail of our womanhood was discussed and analysed as we grew and tried to understand what was happening inside of us.

I had a close bunch of friends at the time and one of them, the ballsiest and the leader of our small clan, was the one to suggest I start using tampons. In those days most of the girls including myself used pads, which were eventually deemed gross, messy and uncomfortable. I remember waking up in the middle of the night and having to change my sheet and my underwear, and sometimes even my pyjamas, because I had messed all over my bed. This occurrence was mortifying for me, even though I was surrounded by other girls having the exact same experience.

My mother had never mentioned tampons, or suggested I begin using them, so I was completely oblivious to their existence, until I started boarding school that is. This Alpha Female friend of mine, after becoming aware of my predicament, was adamant that I was going to learn to use them. So it was one afternoon that she pulled me along to our bathroom, with a pink tampon box in hand, to explain how these contraptions worked. She pulled out the little instruction sheet and opened the page up to show me the picture. I remember feeling extremely shy and embarrassed, as I realised I would have to stick the little thing up with my finger. I was scared it was going to hurt and that it would get stuck and never come out. I thought, “what if it gets stuck and someone else has to take it out?”

After giving me her best version of a pep talk, I finally took one out of the box and locked myself in one of the toilets, with my friend standing close outside for encouragement.  With a one quick movement the tampon was in place, and feeling slightly uncomfortable, I waddled out of the bathroom.

I felt liberated and in charge that day, having faced the unknown and come out a woman. I have used tampons ever since and never looked back. Every now and then I think back on that first time and I have a good chuckle at the whole experience am reminded just how important it is to have girlfriends.