Or: Reasons not to be so hard on yourself.
You don’t have to justify yourself to anyone.
It is nobody else’s business what you are, or why you feel the way you do, or why you identify as “asexual.” You don’t owe anybody an explanation. You don’t have to tell them why or how. You can if you want to, but it’s never required. You don’t have to come up with evidence so that other asexual people will accept you as one of their own – if they demand you to prove that you’re asexual, they are assholes who don’t deserve your company. And you don’t have to prove that you’re asexual to non-asexual people, either: if they want you to prove it, then it means they’re just looking for excuses to argue with you and invalidate your feelings. Don’t waste your time trying to earn other people’s acceptance.
You don’t have to identify what your romantic orientation is.
The idea of “romantic orientation” is kind of a big thing in asexual communities, but it doesn’t work for everyone. It’s only a theoretical model; there’s no evidence that all people’s feelings work like that. If trying to figure out your romantic orientation is just making you stressed out, anxious, confused, or upset, then put those thoughts away and go do something else that makes you happy. Labels exist to serve you and help you feel happy with who you are, not to make you feel lost or worried.
You are welcome in the asexual community if you are gray-asexual or demisexual.
…And if anyone tries to tell you otherwise, then they are full of shit. You don’t have to be 100% asexual in order to have experiences and feelings that are very similar to how asexual people feel. Gray-asexual and demisexual people have a lot in common with asexual people, and you can still find support, and support others, by being part of the asexual community. Most asexual people are pleased to hang out with gray-asexual and demisexual people, and the few who aren’t, are just jerks who don’t deserve your time.
There is no right or wrong way to be asexual.
You can be celibate. Or you could be monogamous, or even have lots of casual sex with lots of people. You might hate sex, or maybe you can take it or leave it, or maybe you enjoy it. Maybe you like telling dirty jokes, maybe you don’t. Maybe you masturbate or watch porn, and maybe those things just seem boring or gross. Asexual people are diverse, and there is no such thing as a “typical asexual” lifestyle. The ONLY requirement for being asexual-spectrum, and thus part of the asexual community, is that you rarely or never experience sexual attraction. That’s it. If that describes you, then there is literally no way you can screw up being asexual.
You are not disqualified from being asexual just because of something that happened in your past.
Asexual people often say that we are not asexual because of being abused or hurt by someone in the past. We insist that asexuality is different from psychological trauma. But what if you were abused or hurt by someone? What if you really are afraid of intimacy, sex or relationships? What if your asexuality really was caused by something bad that happened to you? Then that is okay. It does not make your asexuality any less valid. It does not change the fact that you are experiencing life like an asexual person now. It does not mean that your current feelings mean less, or should not be trusted. Asexuality is about who you are today, and doing what feels right to you today, not about who you might have been if your life had been different.
You are not disqualified from being asexual just because of other issues that you are dealing with now.
Maybe you’re autistic. Maybe you have social anxiety. Maybe you have vaginismus, or a hormonal disorder, or have a disability that affects your sex life. Maybe you are depressed, or have no friends, or are too focused on your grades or career to think about relationships, or maybe there’s something else going on. You might be wondering whether a mental disorder or unusual personality trait made you asexual. (Probably not: Most people in those circumstances still feel sexual attraction, and are not asexual.) But it doesn’t really matter, because whether it did or didn’t, you can still feel like an asexual person now. It doesn’t matter whether you were “born this way,” or became this way. Your feelings are legitimate, and having a disorder or emotional issues does not mean that your experiences as an asexual person are less valid, less real, or less important. You can be asexual and autistic at the same time, or asexual and depressed, or asexual and a loner, or whatever combination of traits applies to you.
You are not disqualified from being asexual just because of certain sexual things that you enjoy.
All it takes to be asexual is to not feel sexual attraction. It does not mean that you hate sex, or that you dislike watching porn, or that you can’t understand sex jokes, or that you never masturbate, or that you can’t ever have a sexual relationship…Some asexual people masturbate, some watch or read porn, some of us tell dirty jokes, and some of us even enjoy sex.
It’s okay to be mistaken. It’s okay to change your mind.
Maybe you’re concerned that one day, you will feel sexual attraction, and your asexual identity will be proven wrong. Maybe you think you’re too young or too sexually inexperienced to know for sure. Maybe you’re hesitant to label yourself as asexual because you think you’ll look shallow or stupid if it later turns out that you were wrong.
Don’t worry. You can change your mind about your sexual identity as many times as you want. It won’t hurt anyone. It won’t make it harder for “real” asexual people to be taken seriously – it’s acephobic people who cause problems for us, not people who are confused and just trying to figure themselves out. Changing the label you identify with does not mean that you are shallow, stupid or fake; it means that you have grown as a person and understand yourself better than you did before. It means that you’re being honest with yourself, and that you have learned something important. That’s a really good thing! So don’t be afraid to jump into the asexual community and call yourself asexual. Your label is like a coat you can put on or take off, not a tattoo you’ll be stuck with forever.
You don’t have to come out of the closet if you don’t want to.
The purpose of identifying as “asexual” is to make you happy and help serve your needs, not to put you on public display for everyone else to see. If coming out as asexual makes you nervous, or you think people might react badly, or if you just prefer to keep your sex life private, then staying quiet about your asexuality is totally fine. You do not need to sacrifice your personal safety, emotional health, or social relationships for the sake of the asexual movement. Your asexuality is not any less real or important just because you don’t tell anyone else about it.
You are not appropriating from LGBT+ struggles by calling yourself asexual.
Asexuality is its own identity, and it exists independently of LGBT+ identities. There is some overlap between the asexual community and the LGBT+ community (and many asexual people are part of both). But the asexual community has never claimed to be oppressed in the same way that LGBT+ people are. Hetero-romantic asexuals may not be targeted by homophobia, and cisgender asexuals may not be targeted by transphobia, but they never pretended to be, and they have their own issues as asexual people to face. Asexuality is a legitimate sexual orientation with unique concerns and experiences, and it does not impose upon or threaten LGBT+ spaces.
Just because someone else has it worse doesn’t mean that your problems don’t matter, or that you’re not allowed to ask for support.
Everybody has problems that they struggle with. What seems small and simple to one person might be overwhelming and painful to another. No one else can rightfully say that you shouldn’t feel bad or want validation and help, because nobody else knows exactly what you’re going through. The asexual community is, in fact, a community, and that means we are here to help each other. Even if you only suspect that you might be asexual-spectrum, even if you’re a hetero-romantic cisgender person, you can still share your problems, ask for support, find others who have been through the same thing, contribute meaningfully to discussions about asexuality, and support others in their struggles. You do not need to be oppressed or miserable in order to deserve friendship and respect.
You don’t have to be an educator or an activist.
If someone is ignorant or rude about asexuality, you’re allowed to walk away. You’re allowed to be silent or change the subject. Educating people is great, but it can also be exhausting or frustrating, and your mental health is more important than that. Knowing your limitations does not make you weak, or lazy, or mean that you’re letting other asexual people down – it is absolutely necessary to know your limits, so that you can take care of yourself.
All of the anxiety, self-doubt and sadness about asexuality will pass in time, and you will be stronger for it.
In the end, either you will accept your identity on the asexual spectrum, or else you will come to identify as something different. Both outcomes are great; both of them mean that you have learned something about yourself and overcome a difficult internal struggle. You will become more confident in your identity and learn how to make the most of it. And you will become happy with it. It might take weeks, or months, or even years, but that’s okay, because there’s no rush. You can push the question of “What am I?” or “Am I on the right track?” aside, and come back to it later. You’ve got your whole life available to figure it out. Things will get easier a little bit at a time, and eventually it will be alright.