We live in an age where we are more open than ever about sexuality, and have seen the rise of classifications for identities that have been traditionally ignored. Asexuality being one of these such identities, can be described as the lack of sexual attraction to others. In recent years, it has slowly become integrated into mainstream conversation through various TV shows and literature. Though this has begun to take the stigma out of the concept, there is still the feeling of wrongness and brokenness that can take over whenever a person is faced with the possibility that they might be somewhere on a spectrum. For some, this sense of discomfort revolves around the absence of feelings that are regarded as normal. This was made clear to me when I entered my freshman year of college.
I can’t speak for all people on the asexual or aromantic spectrum, but when I found a word for the feelings I was having, or lack thereof, I was so relieved. I identify as asexual with a yet-to-be-determined romantic orientation. This means that I do not feel sexual attraction to anyone of any gender. However, I have yet to figure out who I am attracted to in a romantic sense. Before I knew this, I had been convinced that I was missing an important element that makes humans unique.
Everywhere I looked, there was an emphasis on relationships and sex, along with an idea that people aren’t truly complete unless they have someone to complete them. Ever since I can remember, I had been waiting for the feeling of attachment towards someone to start so I could relate to the songs and books and TV shows where someone would go on endlessly about the feelings that they have for that one special person; but those feelings never came. However, after I had a word for what I was, I still felt like an outsider.
Ironically, acknowledging my sexual orientation made me think about sex and relationships even more. I knew that I would never experience the emotions that everyone else has. It affects the way I interact with other people because I imagine that I can’t relate to them, or that they don’t understand me. Knowing that I am asexual makes it feel as though I am even more detached from other people than I was when I didn’t have a word for how I felt.
When I entered college, I thought that I would be able to focus on the things that really mattered to me instead, such as working toward degrees that will ensure an amazing job and future. I also thought I could ignore the rest of the world moaning about their need for someone to complete them. However, this was not the case. Every time I met a new friend, their only focus would be hooking up and finding their person to marry within the four short years that we had. I was completely alone and hadn’t come out to anyone. There wasn’t anyone to turn to, so I didn’t. I started shutting myself away and pretending that I didn’t need close friends. I thought that if I didn’t allow myself to get close to anyone, my brokenness wouldn’t become so apparent to me. That plan didn’t work. I got close to a group of girls that I now call some of my best friends who I would eventually, come out to. I felt relieved to no longer have to hide who I was, but the ever-present sense of misunderstanding soon began to grow.
After I came out, the way my friends talked around me began to change. Before, we could have an unfiltered conversation about almost anything, especially boys and relationships and sex. After I came out though, they either seemed to avoid those topics or would treat my opinions as lesser because I couldn’t feel the same way that they could. Instead of making me feel better, I began to regret coming out, especially when I was ridiculed for being asexual. They say “Well, you wouldn’t understand because you don’t feel those feelings.” Somedays, I begin to think that if I hadn’t come out, then everything would be the way it was supposed to be.
My freshman year of college has yet to end. There are still moments where the divide between me, my friends, and the rest of the world, seem to be wider than ever. There are still days where I wonder if what I am is just my attempt to be special or if I am truly broken and the whole world knows it. There are also days where I wish that I would just be “fixed” to avoid feeling like such an outsider in a place where I am supposed to be welcomed and find myself. Most days, I just want to be reassured that I’m not completely f*cked up.
By Dominique Ardis