Opening the door to self-discovery
As humans, we are in general a social species, programmed to support each other in family units and communities and it seems often mob rule dictates what is normal, expected or acceptable behaviour. Especially in a modern society where the media projects these ideas into every facet of our lives, we are now educated very early on as to how life apparently is. No matter what our true feelings inside, we may now attempt to adhere to the ‘rules’ that we have collectively set ourselves. Individuality can be sacrificed to a greater or lesser degree in order to fit in with the consensus ideal and prevent rejection, or else the pursuit of self-awareness if obscured or avoided in favour of what ‘should be’.
I am glad that I personally had little influence from some areas of society. I wasn’t one of the popular children, probably because I was shy from an early age and would rather have been at home than at school. I never saw the point in doing things I didn’t want to do to please other people; as a result, I’ve never smoked and I don’t drink. In the earlier years of education, I had a few people I spent time with that talked about animals but then became alienated from them when animals became giggling about boys and make-up, so then I moved on to find other people who enjoyed other topics, such as writing and drawing.
It didn’t bother me that I was unpopular; the majority group were a completely different type of personality to me, with their obsession on looks, fashion and attitudes, how much I disapproved of their constant girl and boyfriend swapping (or so it seemed to me) and how much in a rush they were to have this mysterious thing called sex. It was talked about all the time. Occasionally I got asked if I’d had it or people made reference to my virginity, but everyone knew it was a big joke and of course I hadn’t. I ignored them and just continued disapproving. I know now that it wasn’t sexuality that I was being critical of but rather their behaviour and mind-set regarding it and they were my reference to the world of sex at that time.
Another reason I shrugged off their talk was because I knew from early teens that I wasn’t going to be doing anything of the sort with men although I didn’t realise how different I really was at that time. Before puberty I’d had odd emotional attachments on boys that I mistook for crushes but that definitely weren’t sexual and weren’t even romantic. At thirteen I had my first attachment to a woman and it was stronger than I’d felt before and much more enduring. For a year and a half, my heart ached and I manipulated situations so I could get a hug off her. That’s really as far as it went, but after an initial period of confusion, I was happy to call myself a lesbian- after all, there were only three options to choose from and evidently this one was mine. I contentedly worked out my future- I wanted a girlfriend at some point. I wanted someone (and I could see her in my mind) who would be there by my side, two lives entwined, someone who I could laugh with, who knew me better than anyone else and had a unique and special emotional bond with, who I could trust and commit to, who made my heart flutter with butterflies and who could make me smile just by thinking about her. That’s what a relationship was to me and if all those people were prioritising bedroom activities over that, then that was their problem.
I wasn’t daunted by my chances of finding her even though I knew my orientation was by far in the minority, I just contentedly took the philosophy that I would carry on with my life and she would turn up when it was our time. When she did, it would be special. I have always imagined a long term commitment and would only be interested if I thought it had a chance of being that. Of course I knew that I wouldn’t automatically find The One and most likely I’d have a few failed relationships, but I wanted them to be serious affairs and it was nice to dream.
I was 20 when I was first introduced to asexuality. I still hadn’t had a relationship by this point and hadn’t been interested in anyone outside of the dream, but I maintained that I was a lesbian at that time. I think I fell into the classic trap of thinking that because I wanted a relationship, because I found women beautiful to look at and because I had a libido, that I wasn’t asexual, but some sense did draw me to look at the link and I realised then what had been so different about me. This was the reason why sex had been such a big deal to them and so little to me. In a moment, I realised with some shock that any future girlfriend of mine would want and expect sex with me. It wasn’t something I had considered or ever envisioned myself doing and I’m not sure why I never thought about it until that point. It was a kick in the teeth for my ideal relationship because the world obviously didn’t work the same way I wanted it to.
I am 22 now. I’ve long grown used to the idea of asexuality and I know it fits me better than any other orientation. I know that I’ve never experienced sexual attraction. I do have a libido and I find it a rather pointless part of my being- if I lost it (apart from the worry of a medical issue if it went!) I wouldn’t miss it. I am ‘out’ on all my frequent websites online and to my brother and cousin, but not to my parents because I know they wouldn’t accept it. It’s a lot easier to be ‘out’ online but I did go to Pride London 2010 in order to help raise visibility even though social situations and one-to-one visibility makes me very uncomfortable. I am one of those people to whom asexuality is just a part of who I am, not something I need to shout about for my own sake. I shout about it for the sake of others. I’m glad at least that I was stubborn in school. I’m glad that I’m not that romantically inclined so I’m not in the desperate situation of trying to make a mixed orientation relationship work. I’m glad that I got to know myself before having or trying to share myself with a life partner. Some people aren’t that lucky.
As for AVEN, I think generally I’ve got from it everything that I needed. I answered some questions that I had, found questions I didn’t even know I had, unravelled an enigma (and in some ways ravelled it back up again!) and opened the door to a journey of self-discovery. Who knows where the future will lead?