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It’s been almost two years since I started identifying as an aromantic asexual. I’m enjoying spending time with myself in a whole new way and loving the new sides of myself that are revealed as I get older. In my relationships with others, I’m more forthright than I’ve ever been. I stand up for myself and let myself feel and communicate my wants and needs. Through the label of aromantic asexual, I’m having a conversation with myself that I hope will never end.

But, it wasn’t always easy. Even now, there are still times when I feel as though things would be so much simpler if I fit into a different category. There are still times when I question the validity of my feelings and wonder if there’s an exception to my sexuality, or lack thereof.

This month, the topic for the Carnival of Aces is Questioning Your Faith. With that in mind, I’d like to talk about what to remember when questioning your orientation and how to find faith that who you decide you are is who you’re meant to be.

Remember that questioning is normal.

I feel as though there’s a lot of pressure when discovering your sexual identity to immediately know what and who you are. You’re supposed to have definite examples of why you are this way or that way and provide proof that you don’t fit into the heteronormative, amanormative structure of our society. Any hesitation is seen as weakness, as a suggestion that this whole divergent sexuality thing is just smoke and mirrors.

In my opinion, that ‘getting it right on the first try’ ideology is a nice thought, much as a high schooler knowing what career they want to get into immediately after graduating is a nice thought. That doesn’t make it practical for the majority of people.

There’s so many ways to love people and so many types of relationships to be had that it’s okay if you don’t find the one that fits you right away. How you identify if up to you and there’s no time limit. If you decide to see if Relationship A works for you before coming to the conclusion that Relationship N is the best one, that’s okay! I’ve personally identified as a lesbian, a bisexual, a panromantic asexual, a trans*person, an androgyne, and an aromantic pansexual before finally realizing that being an aromantic asexual was the right choice for me.

Remember not to let others decide for you or get you down.

I felt for a long time as though the only way to know for sure that I was queer was to have someone validate my queerness. But, discovering your identity doesn’t work like that. By allowing people to have that kind of control over my identity, I’d get really depressed or defensive when anybody claimed that I didn’t fit into their view of who I should be. Worse yet, I’d end up being stuck in a category that I didn’t want by people who didn’t have my best interests at heart.

Questioning your identity is something that can only be done by you. Through discovering what your sexuality and gender are, you can be a more authentic you. You can deepen your own concept of where you stand and what’s important to you.

Will there be people that say you’re just trying to get attention or that you’re wasting your time? Probably.

But they’re not the ones who get to decide what your relationship with yourself is supposed to be.

Remember to do what makes you happy.

I can still remember the day that I realized that I was an aromantic asexual. I had been living with my dad for a year and was trying to figure out what kind of relationships were out there. I knew that the ones that I’d been having were unhealthy and decided to Google what a healthy relationship looked like. I stumbled across an ace advice blog that described different relationship paradigms for aromantic and asexual people (unfortunately I can’t remember which site). For the first time, I realized that what they were describing was what I’d always wanted out of a relationship.

It felt like my mind expanded in the most wonderful way. I looked beyond what I was taught a relationship was supposed to be and saw a whole different way of looking at things that was just so much better.

That’s the key to it, really. When you’re questioning your sexual or romantic orientation, focus on what makes you happy, what makes you feel better and more hopeful about the world and your place in it. There aren’t any wrong answers, just feelings and what you personally decide you want out of life.

Most of all, remember that there is an option that leads to happiness. When I was coming to terms with my attraction to women, there…wasn’t a lot of encouragement. All of the books and movies I could find involved teenagers coming out and then either committing suicide or being left by their significant other for a member of the opposite sex. There was a while that I thought those where the only outcomes to discovering my queer identity. But it wasn’t. Since realizing my orientation, I’ve found people who care about me for who I am. I do the things that make me happy and live my life on my terms. Best yet, there’s tons of movies and books out now that have queer characters who are happy and healthy being the way that they are.

Questioning your identity isn’t an easy process and it’s hard to have faith in yourself when everything seems to be up in the air. But, it does get better, with a little honesty and belief.