--I'm still not completely certain where exactly I fit on the aro/ace spectrum, so I just don't know how to articulate it, especially concisely.
--Romantic relationships and sexuality are not favorite subjects of mine. I would rather talk about other things.
--It's just part of who I am. And even though I'm still working on learning about that part of me, and articulating it, that's just not really what my life is about.
--Preaching/"educating"/being overly advocative (yes, I made that word up) isn't very much in my personality, and I feel like it wouldn't be taken well. I'd just rather talk about other things. (Did I say that already?)
But I was on a forum just now and came across a post with the subject "Breakdown. How do you learn to love yourself?" Friends, this question is everywhere. This needs to be addressed, in general. Whether you identify as ace, gay, straight, hiker, teacher, surfer, quilter, and/or any other category you want to use, someone in your circle (if not yourself) is going to ask that question. Probably more than one person. People are worthy of love, especially self-love. And I don't mean that lightly.
Included in this person's story was the phrase that, in some form, is probably the most repeated phrase on that forum - "I feel broken." Sometimes it is in past tense, meaning they feel more whole now but did feel broken before. This one was in present tense. My sense of "broken" as used by this community is that they feel like something isn't working that should be; they're incomplete; defective; something has gone wrong; etc. Like a washing machine that no longer runs and so can't clean your clothes, they're broken. And with society and culture (not sure which word fits better here, so I'll just use both) constantly pressing romantic/sexual relationships and selling them as the ultimate life goal and fulfillment, it's pretty hard to not feel that way.
You see, that desire, that pull, that attraction is what is missing - that thing we can't quite label because we don't know the experience. For aces who desire a romantic relationship, it's common to feel like it will never work. So much compromise. How are we ever going to be loved completely when we can't "love" completely? How will anyone ever even give us a chance? For those of us closer to being aromantic, the story is similar but different. For me, anyway, it's wondering how it's possible to experience love, emotional intimacy, even fully positive regard when I don't have that fundamental relationship we're constantly told we have to have - when I'm not even pursuing it - when I don't even have plans to or want to pursue it. It's one thing to be single and searching. But to not want romance at all? You must be broken.
I've come to the point where, most of the time, I've accepted that this is just another facet of who I am. But society is constantly telling me I'm incomplete, and sometimes I believe them. I feel more like myself, happier with myself, when I'm just me, myself. But am I really what I'm supposed to be? One can make the argument that society should not dictate that. But let's be realistic. Society is not that accepting yet. And so I, reluctantly, open my mouth and say more - because even if it isn't romantic, we are still worthy of love. All of us. Please let those around you know.