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My Identity

I have been on an emotional roller-coaster lately, and it has not been at all fun.

I bounce back and forth between being genuinely happy about things, finding joy and love everywhere; and feeling like nothing at all is right with my life.

I have some really fantastic people in my life, and I get a lot of support from them. But lately I feel like my support from them and their willingness to be around me is contingent on me not talking about certain things. Normally I’m respectful of avoiding topics that might trigger certain things in certain people, and I’m not one to intentionally make someone feel uncomfortable.  But when everyone requires that I mute myself on the same topics… that becomes a little hard to handle.

I get that not everyone can like everything about you. But when that thing is so crucial to your identity, often feeling like the biggest part of who you are and how you define yourself… how do you deal with that? How do you deal with people saying that they love and respect you, so long as you don’t talk about the thing that’s most important to you? How do you feel loved entirely when you think people would be happier if you were different?

I’m not going to change; this is who I am. But sometimes I just don’t know how to deal with the impact it’s having on my life.

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A Sunday on Pig Island

I was able to meet up with Toronto Pig Save again yesterday, during the largest vigil I have ever attended. There were a total of 37 of us there yesterday, and it was the strongest sense of community I’ve felt in a while. Some people even recognized me from here and my impossible-to-miss rainbow hat, so thank you to anyone who mentioned my blog 🙂

I saw people I’d met previously, I met new people. Most importantly for me is I met more people my age. Everyone that I’ve met has been beyond friendly (I mean, have you ever met a mean vegan? I’m pretty sure that’s an oxymoron) but with how I’ve felt lately in terms of feeling isolated from my friends… it’s great for me to be starting to connect with more people my age.

One dedicated young woman (with awesome pink hair) was there a whole hour before everyone else. One of the memorable conversations I had was with a gentleman; I had been telling him how I had come to be vegan, and asked how long he’d been vegan. He didn’t know. There was no solid date that he decided to be vegan. Apparently it just sort of happened gradually over time without much planning. I think this is an excellent thing in terms of telling people about how easy going and being vegan is. If some people just end up vegan accidentally, how hard can it be to do intentionally? Clearly, not very.

I had a conversation about that with a woman at a red light who had taken one of the pamphlets being offered to her. I told her that I was recently vegan, and barely noticing in terms of food. We talked about how there are substitutes for literally everything now, and I told her that to me, it really only feels like I’m buying different brands of food at the grocery store. She was very supportive and assured us she was going to do more research as she drove away when the light changed.

I think this is the first vigil that I’ve attended where the positives outweighed the negatives for me. I actually had a really good day.

I had a good day despite the fact that some people were laughing at us from their cars. Despite the fact that a driver re-routed his truck so that he wouldn’t have to stop at the light in front of us. Despite the fact a driver threw carrots at us on his way out after “unloading” his pigs (because, didn’t you know: vegans are always starving because we have nothing to eat… so really, he was being nice……………) while yelling who knows what. We had waved at his passenger because it looked like he was recording us or taking pictures on his phone.

I also had a good day despite seeing this after leaving the vigil. I had posted this link on my wall in the morning. 

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All in all, I think I’m getting better at managing things. Before leaving my house in the morning, I had to tell myself that I wasn’t allowed to get mad at myself for not being able to do anything for the pigs today. I need to remind myself that some things can be done today (like showing love and compassion to as many of them as I can) and some things can’t be done today (I can’t save any of the ones being sent to slaughter). But I can help reduce the demand by talking to people about it and helping them realize what they are participating in. Like the man at the light the first time I was there. Like the woman I spoke to yesterday. That is why I had a good day despite all of those thing, because someone listened and understood.

Now please excuse me while I go dig in to the delicious blondies I have cooling on my stove top.  Recipe.

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Photos: Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals

Full Album: here 

Also, if you haven’t checked out Toronto Pig Save, you should!