Monica Lewinsky is reflecting on the 25th anniversary of her affair with former President Bill Clinton going public.
In a self-penned piece for Vanity Fairthe activist and writer, 49, detailed what she has “observed and learned in the quarter century since” she was a White House intern.
“One thing everyone has in common is that we have all made mistakes. It’s inevitable. Get comfortable with the Art of the Mistake,” wrote Lewinsky, whose affair with Clinton, 76, made headlines on Jan. 21, 1998, and ultimately led to his impeachment.
“You cannot run away from your narrative,” she added in another section.
Lewinsky then spoke about choosing friends “carefully,” writing, “Twenty-five years ago I had one of the world’s worst friends: Linda ‘Judas, hold my beer’ Tripp.” Noting that she has “since let go of the resentment and bitterness that surrounded” Tripp’s “betrayal,” Lewinsky continued, “It’s not lost on me how very fortunate I am to have been able to trust new people.”
In one other note, Lewinsky playfully teased her past relationship with Clinton, saying, “As the years pass, one’s taste in partners gets better. (Wink.),” and she concluded her thoughts by writing, “Lastly, I don’t know how to say this other than to be direct and insufferably corny: You can survive the unimaginable.”
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Astrid Stawiarz/Getty; Slaven Vlasic/Getty
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Back in 2021, Lewinsky chatted with PEOPLE about her era-defining political scandal in the mid-’90s and how every aspect of her life was publicly examined and criticized — including her physical appearance.
“We didn’t even have words like ‘fat shaming’ or ‘slut shaming’ then,” Lewinsky told PEOPLE at the time. “It was incredibly painful.”
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“I still don’t like having my photo taken professionally,” she continued. “Twenty-plus years on, there’s still a mental tape that holds some of those traumatic experiences of hearing people say awful things, seeing cartoons of myself and this idea that the only reason an actual relationship [with Clinton] could have been possible if I were more attractive.”
Added Lewinsky: “I already had self-esteem issues, and being the object of ridicule didn’t help.”
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Looking back, Lewinsky also explained to PEOPLE of the Clinton scandal, “For me, at 22 there was this combination of the awe of being at the White House, the awe of the presidency and the awe of this man who had an amazing energy and charisma was paying attention to me.”
“I was enamored with him, like many others,” she continued. “He had a charisma to him — and it was a lethal charm, and I was intoxicated.”
Lewinsky said she also no longer needs an apology from Clinton, stating, “If I had been asked five years ago, there would have been a part of me that needed something — that still wanted something. Not any kind of relationship, but a sense of closure or maybe understanding. And I feel incredibly grateful not to need any of that.”
What Lewinsky said she did hope for, however, is a continued discussion, especially about the dynamics between men with power and those without it.
“As we all came to see, it wasn’t just about losing a job but about the power to be believed, the power to be inoculated from the press, the power to have others smear someone’s reputation in all the ways that work, the power to understand consequences of having held many important jobs, where this was my first out of college,” she said.