One of the biggest things I’ve been struggling with as I’ve moved along on this journey of self discovery is the recurring and annoying sense of self doubt. What if I’m not really asexual? What if I’m just ___ (scared, confused, repressed, etc)? What if I’m misunderstanding the key definition of sexual attraction?
In what I’ve found and read, this seems to be a very common element in people trying to figure themselves out. I think that’s very understandable. This isn’t easy stuff. Not by a long shot. And while the definition of asexuality is pretty precise and clear cut, it has a vagueness about it that allows for those self doubts. I’ve read lots of things by people trying to explain it, clarify terms, and help others get a handle on it. One of the earlier things I read was someone saying that the definition could almost be “if you think you’re asexual, then you’re asexual.” Now of course, that’s not much of a definition. It’s more like some ancient mind riddle. The author even declared that it wasn’t really practical, and I agree. But, in a way, it’s kind of right.
When I read the definition, and tried to figure it out, and figure myself out, I definitely had a lot of questions. I tried to answer all those questions with mixed results. Ultimately, my (and your) individual experience is what counts. It’s mathematically unlikely that someone else out there will have had the same, or even very similar experiences as myself. But that doesn’t nullify my experience, and it doesn’t mean that I’m not really asexual. Eventually, I came to a point after having read dozens upon dozens of personal accounts where I realized that even if my experience and story isn’t identical to any of those, it shared so many key elements. That, I think, is where the wishy-washy definition of “if you think you’re asexual, then you’re asexual” comes in. I basically got to a point where I just intuitively felt it. This feels like home. I may not understand why, and my experiences and opinions may be different, but on the whole, I feel right with the label. So in a way, I am, because I think I am.
This probably is not what someone trying to understand all this wants to read or hear. I certainly dismissed it when I read it the first time, but I think it’s what will really help seal the deal for someone. What label makes you feel safe? What label makes you feel comfortable? What label makes you feel like home? Sure, it would’ve been great if I had read someone’s account and felt as though they could’ve been telling my story. It might’ve made accepting it faster and easier. If you get that chance, great! Not to get too deep here, but if I (or you, or anyone) feels that yes, I am asexual, I identify with that experience, then by definition, the range of experiences of asexuality is increased to incorporate mine. Merely by existing and identifying this way, I’m defining in some small way what it means to be asexual.*
At the end of the day, all those self doubts I might have probably won’t go away, and that’s ok. No one worth my time is going to give me a hassle about whether or not I’m really asexual. The label fits my experience right here and now in a way that nothing else has. I can either feel incomplete, inferior, and broken, or I can feel totally complete, normal, and just different. That’s not even really a choice at all.
*So wouldn’t it be great if that concept was something I came up with? Too bad is isn’t. <sigh> Always, great minds have come before me. I’m pretty fond of it though, it’s called existentialism and you’ll have to thank people like Jean-Paul Sartre and Søren Kierkegaard for it, not me.