[This is my submission for the Carnival of Aces for July 2018 hosted this month by trisockatops under the topic of “Then and Now”]
I realized I was asexual when I was 25, which in my opinion is seriously late in life when I was comparing my discovery with the general chatter online. I felt weird reading over the tumblr blogs because most of the folks were significantly younger than me and were still having to deal with teenager stuff (parents, high school, and being unable to legally do anything about it) on top if being asexual. I think dealing with asexuality as an adult is much easier. My college classmates don’t ask nor care about my sexuality or social standing unless it’s going to appear on a test. I stopped needing my parents’ validation a long time ago. I have bills and rent and tuition to stress me out more than other people’s opinions. Actually, between work, school, and taking care of my dog I rarely have time to sit down and think “oh, wait. I’m asexual.”
Honestly, after my initial “holy shit, I’m queer” moment, my asexual journey has been pretty uneventful. I’m more comfortable with myself and where my life is going than I’ve ever been before and a lot of that is just learning how to master the “adult” thing. Right now that that means awarding myself personal kudos if I can find a pair of matching socks before going to work.
The more interesting contrast isn’t between when I found out about asexuality and now, but rather right before I found out about asexuality. A couple years ago I was working for the CNCS (Corperation for National and Community Service). They offer incentive programs that provide college loan forgiveness (which I sorely needed at the time). The diversity training I always mention, the diversity training that neglected to cover asexuality and agender as options, was through them. I was not a hard sell the sign up. Food, laundry, housing, transportation included and I could have my university loans paid off in two years.
The program also promised life-long friendships with your coworkers because you lived and worked together basically 24/7 “like family”. There where several couples who met their significant others in the program every year. All around the job sounded like a sweet deal for my early 20-something to “go out and find myself”. It would be my first time living away from home and out of state. It was a chance for all my favorite tropes to come true.
Weeeell, I did manage to pay off my school loans at least and 99% of the work was picking up trash and pulling weeds, so it was still a pretty sweet deal, but there were no fire-forged friendships and no romance subplots (for me anyway). I was really hoping to get some long-time friends and meet a potential romantic partner in the program and that just didn’t happen. That just shows how well I didn’t know myself back then and I certainly didn’t “find myself ” by picking up trash and pulling weeds full-time for two years.
The reason I’m thinking about the program again is because they are trying to organize a reunion this fall. A camping reunion to reclaim some of the “magic” of back then. Uh, well, I’m all for camping if I get paid to do it, but just thinking about buying all the equipment, the plane ticket, and the rental car makes me want to call up my doctor for a Xanax prescription. Not an exaggeration, by the way; I really am that freaked out about.
I pay for my current college classes out of pocket (since financial aid thinks if you have a degree already you don’t need any more assistance money) and I’m pretty much dirt broke. This thing would probably worse than a high school reunion. I do not have my life together and some irrational part of my primate brain wants to make a good impression on people I literally haven’t talked to in years and I have this deep seated fear that they all have “big-people jobs”, spouses, their own apartments and all that TvLand crap. Meanwhile I still live with my parents (actually I pay them rent, but they’re my parents so they charge me super cheap). I’m getting another (two or three actually) associate degrees in a totally different field instead of a master’s degree in communications (because surprise, surprise, 18 year old me didn’t actually know what they want actually do in life). I feel like a tortoise trying to impress a bunch of hares.
Behold my imaginary conversations that are freaking me out:
“Hey guys! So, this wasn’t on the nifty power point we had to see 4 years ago, but I’m asexual.”
“Oh, and I don’t date. Like ever. And romantic stuff wigs me out so I know a couple of paired off and the Instagram pics of your engagement rings are super cute and all, but…can you not ooze your romantic bliss everywhere? Thanks.”
“Uh, yeah. I’m going back to school. For math so I can sit in a tiny cubical all day and ignore the environmental issues I see that you’re still passionate about.”
“No, I don’t want to work out.”
“I came by bus actually. It sucked but I have a bunch of audiobooks.”
“…I work in a grocery-store. Discounts on food is definitely a perk I need right now.”
“I’ll be in my tent working on homework if y’all need me.”
So, instead of a weekend of camping I think I’m going to stay home, read up on philosophy, practice some writing, and enjoy all the pleasure of being single. Right now I’m reading up all the studies on the health an psychological benefits of being single. I think that’s a post for another day, but it’s definitely not something I would have even considered back then. Totally worth it now.