The sh*t nobody tells you is that your values can feel isolating.
Feeling like an outsider at the table is a real thing. I've experienced it a lot over the last eight years. So, here's how to can cope with it.
To start, food is deeply entwined in celebration, ritual, making up and breaking up.
So, when you can’t partake in the same food as everyone else, feeling like an outsider is a real thing. At family meals, it felt like everyone was connecting over beautiful dishes of food that I couldn't even try. I ended up believing that I was the odd one out because I passed on the pasta, and eyed everything instead.
Also, sometimes hosts don’t understand why you're not eating their food. You know, the ones who say stuff like this:
- “Why are you not eating?”
- “Do you not like my food?”
- “Are you on a diet?”
- "Don't you just want to try the burger?"
Navigating this takes time. Do realize that:
- Your values are totally up to you. For starters, no one has power over what you think. You are allowed to be vegan, fruitarian, soylent-loving, or whatever you believe to be true.
- Other people’s opinion of you doesn’t define who you are. You choose who you are, what you eat, and how you define yourself.
- People aren’t paying THAT close of attention to you. I always felt like people were watching my every move, what I ordered, how I ate... yeah - no one is doing that. It was all in my head. So, ditch that brainwave immediately 'cause it ain't true.
- Really, no one cares. People just want you to eat and survive, not flare up with an allergic reaction. Therefore, you can bring your own meals to the party. Yes, it takes some time to adjust to the awkwardness of this at first, but really, no one cares.
- Get comfortable being unforgettable. Practice saying no. Early on, I would simply be nice and take the glutinous cupcake (and then give it to my sister later) instead of rejecting people. I’ve worked on speaking up so I can clearly tell others that it looks lovely, but I am allergic and going to pass. It takes practice, and I swear you aren’t hurting anyone’s feelings or rejecting them.
- You are in charge of your own life and no one else is going to do the work for you. Bring your own food, eat ahead of time, stash grub in your bag - do whatever YOU need to eat. If you don’t take care of yourself, no one else will.
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All the love,