People who do not read my blog may be surprised to hear that I am began the vegan lifestyle at the beginning of the year and continue to do so to this day. I’m not the type of person who needs to tell others my (what I consider) unique traits and special things that are going on in my life. Chances are that if you know an intimate part of my life such as my diet choice, my past relationships, or my unconventional views on the world, our species, and current events, I have decided to share this with you after considering the outcome of sharing such information. The reason I am so picky-choosy with certain aspects of my life is due to the conversations that I predict will ensue after I tell someone about my life.
My go-to line that summarizes why I don’t generally tell people I’m vegan on my own is:
“As much as everyone loves to hear the lecturing vegetarian, I’m not that guy.”
We all have our reasons why we choose to live our lives a certain way. When discussing these particular things whatever they may be, I have found there to be two popular responses to revealing oneself to another.
- Those who acknowledge what is said
- Those who register the information as foreign and alien
Often times the result of the second response is due to the failure at the first response. Most of us like to think that we are empathetic people, but all it takes is for one person to step so far out of the box that we as humans instinctively try to reel that person into the comfort zone bubbles they are so familiar with.
I will admit that through most of my life up until the past two years I was the one who instinctively tried to reel the radical thinkers into returning to safety and serenity. In reflecting back as to why I did this, I keep realizing that there was one point that I just stopped listening and the voice in my head at the time (some stern, pretentious male’s voice, probably resembling my dad) was convinced that this person was having a dilemma and that I needed to solve this the best way I can. I would get so caught up in thinking that the reason people would tell me what was going on in their lives was because they wanted to hear what my solution to their problems when in reality if a transcript was printed of conversations had, a single question mark wouldn’t even be found.
I lost a lot of intimate friendships and significant others because of this. During most of my academic path I had been waiting for my turn to talk instead of genuinely listening. I ended up doing the things that I myself couldn’t stand as a child and as a grown adult. To this day I catch my dad doing the same thing to my younger sister who seems to be dealing with a lot of emotional baggage right now (I can only hear so much through the walls in between the radio & podcast listening.)
I tried talking to my dad about this and he explained that as a parent, it is difficult for him to hear his child tell him why they’re crying without immediately telling them what the issue is, and offering a solution that makes sense in his head. He never understood that people need to receive the right information at the appropriate time in order to fully absorb what was said. To him, personal endeavours are like leaking pipes. They need to be taken care of quickly, and while the solution to the problem may only provide temporary relief, at least the pipes no longer leak. I have listened to what people have to say long enough to know that this is not the way we as humans work. While this IMO isn’t the best analogy, a better way to look at the process is the same way we look at hunger.
We have all been hungry before. When we are hungry, we tend to look for something to eat. When we are not hungry, we are less likely to conjure up the motivation to look for food. Hunger can raise the exhausted (while starving can do the exact opposite.) I have crawled home from long bike rides that have resulted in me laying in bed before I know what I did before I ended up there. Thirty minutes go by and I find myself crawling out of bed, legs sore, still tired and sleepy, to grab something to satiate myself because my stomach is telling me that it is ready to be fed. The same can be said with words of wisdom. There is a good chance that we will not get the best benefit of someone’s wise words unless we are ready to hear them. Sure you can have a meal when you’re not hungry. Your body won’t absorb all the nutrients that this meal has since it is content with the previous one, and will either store it for the future, when it is ready to receive it, or pass it along as waste.
To tie this big philosophical rant back to the point of veganism and other qualities of our life. There are some people who we have known for quite some time be they parents, friends, co workers. If you hang around somebody enough, you are going to learn (or be able to accurately predict) how that person will react to what you have to say to them. This is why we refrain from telling people certain things about our lives (like our dietary choices.) Another reason is because we (myself) don’t want to go through that conversation of what I am “allowed” to eat, or how much my bike costs, weighs, and the specifications of every component that comes with the bike. I like to wait until people bring up the conversations in a non-condescending way, judging by that person’s tone of voice, body language if any, and how they form their questions. Genuine curiosity with goals of further bettering oneself should be met with a concise but easily digestible response (like the vegan diet.) Everything else can be thrown to the wayside.
Some people are seriously interested in what you have to say and will show that interest in a way that should not be taken for granted. This person is revealing a side of curiosity they may otherwise not show when with a group of friends. While others simply want to be heard. Another go to phrase I use when trying to describe this to another person is I tell them to
“Just be a wall.”
Walls don’t have opinions. While I cannot back this up with any scientific evidence I would like to think that other than provide the foundation and structure for a building and separate rooms, walls listen. Being a wall in a conversation teaches a lesson in patience. It allows the listener to get a full grasp on what the speaker has to say (whether the conversation takes minutes or days) and lets them find an appropriate time in which the speaker wishes for this wall to speak.
I don’t like to share a lot of intimate things about my life right away because I have a good idea of how certain people will react. If the information is meant for you to hear, it will find it’s way to you one way or another. This is one of the most difficult parts of becoming vegan. It’s not the dietary restrictions. It’s how your peers will receive the decisions you have made and how you will continue your life following these changes. People aren’t particularly receptive to hear that there is a good change you two will not be able to go out to eat much, if not anymore from now on. I’ve learned to adjust and to keep to myself in times like this. This makes things more fluid and at a homeostatic comfort.