Deciding to give myself completely to God at the age of twelve presented some unique challenges--not the least of which was simply growing up!
I assumed that my "call" to a life of virginity meant that I would become a nun or a religious sister. But as this was the late 1990's, I really didn't know any religious very well, so there was no one to whom I could bring my questions. My parents, who were and are devout Catholics, did not want me so much as to think about religious life until I was in college. And even so, they made it clear that I was to earn at least a bachelor's degree before I entered the convent.
When I was fourteen I started ninth grade at our local public high school. I found this environment difficult, as my religious devotion stuck most of my teachers and classmates as odd (or even crazy!). I was never the least bit tempted to ignore my faith, although I did occasionally question my vocation to consecrated life. Still, my sense of being called was so strong that I chose not to date or have any romantic relationships while I was a teenager.
I went away to college when I was eighteen, and within two weeks of being there I called the local diocesan vocation office. Diocesan vocation offices really exist to help potential diocesan priests, but the vocation director was still able to put me in touch with some local women's religious communities.
This is when I first began to visit convents. At first, I felt as though a huge burden had been lifted off my shoulders; it seemed to me that I had kept my vocation bottled up inside of me for so long, and it was such a relief to be talking about it finally.
However, it was not very long before I started to have this vague sense that God did not want me to enter a religious community. I found this quite upsetting, because I still felt very strongly called to a spousal relationship with Christ.