Hi. I'm that dumb millennial who labeled their sexuality too young and got it wrong.
And I don't regret it.
As a generation, yes, we are more likely to label our sexuality at a young age. It is a product of the times we are born into. We are less afraid of being queer, less likely to repress our sexuality, and we are more aware, more educated, about sexuality in general. Not that there isn't still a long ways to go, but we are miles ahead of our parent's generation in this regard.
But there are other reasons that teenagers—particularly young teenagers—might seek labels. Understanding one's sexuality is a part of understanding one's self. It can be a piece of identity. Labeling something makes it less wild, less confusing, less frightening. It's no surprise that teenagers—a group plagued raging hormones and a by lack of control over their lives, a group who is questioning their identity in innumerable ways—would seek the security of labeling their sexuality.
And I don't think they are wrong to do so.
I started to identify as asexual when I was 9 or 10. I didn't the world asexual at the time—I thought I was a one-off fluke of nature—but I was sure that I was this way. When I was around 13, I learned the word asexual, and had a second phase of questioning my sexuality, at the end of which I concluded, "Yep, I'm asexual." And now, at age 19, I've come to the realization that I'm gay, and probably was—more or less—that whole time.
And I wasn't confused. I may have been wrong, but I was not confused. I did not feel confusion. I felt sure and secure in my asexuality. I actually feel a hell of a lot more confused now.
And in many ways, I'm really grateful for this experience.
I understand what asexuality is like.
I won't claim my experience of asexuality was necessarily 100% the same as someone who identifies as asexual for their whole life... but I felt and viewed myself as pretty damn asexual. And considering asexuality is such a misunderstood orientation, I think this is a really interesting and valuable thing. Different experiences, different perspectives—they're all like different lens you see the world through. I think the ability to see things through more lens makes me a better, more compassionate and understanding person.
I am grateful.
I wanted to be gay for years before it occurred to me that why would someone want that unless they actually were gay. I understand that the chance to date girls is not something that everyone gets—and I am properly grateful that it's an opportunity that I've been granted in this life.
I have pretty good self-image.
For years, whether or not I was attractive enough to find a partner wasn't a concern. I wanted to be cute—I think everyone does—but it was ultimately unimportant, in a way. No one but me would ever see my body naked, so what it looked like only mattered to me, and even then not a lot. This is a hard one to articulate. It's not that I never worried about my appearance, or tried to look a certain way, or disliked my body, because I did. But I'd usually forget about it in a few days. It was relatively easy to dismiss. After my aggressive, perhaps nearly dysphoric, hatred of my body during puberty (which is a different discussion) things largely settled, and I didn't think on it overmuch for years.
And then eventually, I would occasionally catch my reflection in the mirror when changing, and think "I feel beautiful."
I think that years—formative, insecure teen years, I might add—of thinking what my body looked like was kind of irrelevant really did me good. It's not that I always like the way I look, or like every bit of my body. But overall, my body and me are pretty good with each other now. And that's nice.