As we know, with the end of our fleetingly short and carefree childhoods comes the new, challenging, and massively inconvenient age of puberty. Puberty brings up a whole host of challenges and changes to overcome and adjust to, both physically and mentally, and it is during this age that 99% of the population are awakened sexually.
However, for that 1% of us who aren't, we can be left feeling somewhat... left out. It's like everyone else has suddenly acquired the ability to fly but no one has told you how to do it and when you ask someone how to fly, they respond with an exceedingly helpful: "I dunno, you just... do?!"
Personally, I've only recently realised my orientation and already I'm coming across feelings like this regularly. While all my friends talk about sex as something they're totally ready for or have already done as simply casual conversation, I sit to the side and twiddle my thumbs wondering why it feels like my body physically won't let me even kiss someone! It can be an incredibly isolating feeling, and it definitely was when I didn't fully understand why I was feeling what I was feeling.
It wasn't until I stumbled upon Evan Edinger's video describing his own sexuality that I began realising that some of the feelings he was describing sounded suspiciously like my own. I started doing my own research and found websites like AVEN which helped me to understand what I was feeling and eventually attach the asexuality label to myself. At first I was over the moon! I felt like I'd uncovered the secrets of the universe in my head and I wanted to tell everyone I knew. What I didn't realise at the time but later came to know was that asexuality is still a very isolating orientation. I found videos online with activists talking about how even the LGBTQIA+ community sometimes didn't feel like asexuals fit in with their groupings. I saw videos of people talking about how they'd been compared to a plant by their friends, told they just hadn't found the right person by their parents and been written off as just an "ice queen" (something I've genuinely been called).
Suddenly my personal struggle felt long from over and whereas before I'd been openly proud of my asexuality, suddenly it felt like a great big dirty secret that had to be hidden because people wouldn't understand. I felt similarly to the way I had before I'd even realised I could be asexual: angry at myself for being this way and massively lonely. My biggest desire however, was just simply to have sex. Not because I wanted to experience it or because I was feeling sexually attracted to someone, but simply to be considered "normal."
After some soul searching, I began to realise that it was the pressures of stories I'd heard that were putting me off and the fear of being treated differently because of this part of me which was slowly becoming uncovered. So I decided to test the waters with some of my friends whom I was on holiday with to see how they reacted... and it didn't really help my confidence. I debated with one friend that in the modern world where basically anyone can love and have sex with anyone, it wasn't impossible to begin to see that love without sex was a concept, to which he replied "It's pretty rare though!"
This stung for more than a few reasons. Firstly, this was possibly the worst thing he could say at that moment in time because I am not aro/ace, meaning I do experience romantic attraction and therefore I would like a relationship in the future and, although he probably didn't realise it, it felt like he'd shut that dream down for me. Secondly, because this was a person who I'd previously been involved with (nothing too extreme but the furthest I'd ever gone with a boy who I had feelings for) and although at the time I'd made my feelings perfectly clear by verbally telling him, physically I couldn't reciprocate them because my body seemed to forbid me and therefore he felt like he'd been getting mixed messages. Which I really don't blame him for, but this now felt like a fresh rejection. Like the one reason I couldn't be with someone in the modern and massively sex-driven world was because of who I was and I really wished I'd never brought the topic up in the first place.
During that time away with my friends, there were many times when I felt like I could've told them about my deep deep secret which felt ever more present thanks to our nightly ventures to the local club and endless games of "Never have I ever," but I just couldn't because of that one reaction. In fact, it wasn't until weeks later when I decided to test the waters yet again, this time with my best friend. Although I haven't known her for long we both know every embarrassing story, every dark moment and every joyful instance the other has experienced. She brought up the topic of sex herself and began to tell me about how she felt ready to have sex and that the annoying label of "virgin" in a school filled with people who weren't had really begun to irritate her. And now, rather than it just simply defining her as someone who hadn't had sex, she saw it as totally negative and hated the way it catagorised her as an outsider. I countered her by explaining that I'd recently realised that I definitely wasn't ready to have sex and didn't really feel the need to anytime soon. It was an incredibly subtle hint and to this day I don't think she knows what I was trying to tell her, but there was no affirmation from her that I would feel ready soon, I just hadn't found the right person, or that I was being prudish. Instead, she sighed and said a simple, "Fair enough," and it felt like a genuine acceptance. And although I still have yet to come out I felt like I was one step closer to doing it.
What I'm learning through my journey into my sexuality is that it is a part of who I am right now, and although one day I might realise that I'm demisexual because I've found someone I have a genuine connection with and therefore feel sexually attracted to them, that's okay! However you feel is totally okay! Sexuality and gender are a totally fluid spectrum and they can change all the time and whatever I feel is valid, whatever anyone feels about themselves and their attitude to, well, anything about themselves is totally valid. And we, as a society, should listen to and accept the way they feel. Although, I personally still don't feel comfortable enough to actually come out to my friends and family yet, I definitely want to in the future and simple support from them will get me to do that. And that's another thing I want to leave this article with: As a young person, I genuinely feel like my generation has a great capacity for change. In my lifetime, I've seen the first black president of the United States of America, the legalisation of gay marriage in Britain and America amongst many other countries, and this makes me realise that the idea of a couple of my friends accepting that I don't experience sexual attraction pales in comparison! I simply have to sit on my big secret until I finally feel comfortable to reveal that to them, and I know that day could be here right now, I just need to allow myself to do it.