One of my favorite things about the queer experience is hearing about people's relationships with their own identities and labels; the moment they realized who they were, all the hints before that moment, and how they honor that fact now. I've always kind of known I was queer, even before I put a name to my experiences. It wasn't a struggle for me to realize my bisexuality, asexuality, or even my lack of a gender, but the one piece of the puzzle that took a while to click was my aromanticism.
There wasn't a eureka moment where it all finally made sense to me, or at least not one that I remember. I was never repulsed by romance, even as a kid when all my classmates would cover their eyes and shout in disgust over a kiss scene in a movie, I've just been... apathetic towards it? It just existed, not as something I wanted to seek nor go out of my way to avoid. As I got older I never had crushes, not in real life or on any fictional characters. I always sat there lost at sleepovers while my friends would tease each other about their crushes. People would claim I was lying to save face whenever I said I wasn't interested in anyone. I never understood how people could look at someone and think "yeah I want to date them," or even how people could look at someone and think they looked attractive. So, one day I tried the label on myself and it's stuck ever since!
I didn't second guess myself until I met my now-partner. They were the exception to every opinion I had on romance prior to that point. And after I realized what my feelings were, there was absolutely no doubt in my mind then and still now that I liked her romantically. Early on, I hated myself for it, I didn't want to be the aromantic who was "cured" of my lack of feelings after "meeting the right person," and all the other horrible things people would spew about us. And at that point I thought, if we started dating, I didn't want her to ever be a target of that too.
I considered for a while that I might be demiromantic or cupioromantic or any other label under the aromantic spectrum. But none of them felt right to me. Greyromantic was the closest I could ever get to finding the words for this particular experience but even that didn't feel as true to me as being plain aromantic.
Like before, there was never a moment of epiphany, but I'm okay with my identity now. The textbook definition of aromanticism is "experiencing little to no attraction" and I just happen to lean towards the "little" part of the definition.
I'm bi and aroace, sure on paper they're contradictory, but I feel my experiences make them true labels for me. I'd spent my whole life up until that point and even still now questioning why people were so obsessed with the idea of being in a relationship, why people would chase someone they don't even know just because they look pretty. Those experiences define me and my ability to relate with my peers, even now that I'm with my partner.
I adore her more than anything else, I think they're gorgeous and hilarious and so, so smart. I'm beyond happy with her now, and I'm ecstatic for all our adventures to come. My experiences now don't change what I've experienced before. And I'm sure that in the future I'll find new ways my identity affects my life even while in a relationship.
All that to say, even if it's hard sometimes, and no matter how much you hate yourself in the moment for what you feel, it'll be okay. Your experiences are real, what you feel is true, and to never let anyone take that away from you. I hope everyone reading this has an absolutely wonderful rest-of-pride month, and that you're all kind to yourselves on the never-ending journey of finding who you are!