“If you want to know about healthy eating, ask that girl!”
My friend was paying me a compliment and the look on his face was one of great pride. He had recently reviewed The Jealous Vegan website in advance of our launch and he was excited about the birth of the project that had been gestating for several months.
In that moment, I realized how difficult it will be to be identified as part of the Creative Team to the world at large. You see, I am not currently, nor have I been in my recent past, a picture of health. How will people regard me if they don’t know my situation, my challenges, my journey? Will they see me as an imposter trying to lead them on the way to better health or will they consider me an amateur inviting others to come along with me? In short, am I the Great Wizard of Oz, pretending to be more or am I Dorothy, leading a ragtag band of travelers down the Yellow Brick road?
When you meet someone of ambivalent racial identity and say “So, what are you?”, they may cringe at our efforts to put them into a category. The response may be mild, ‘My father is of African descent and my mother is from Peru’ or it may be harsh, ‘I’m human. What are you?’ Often times the inquirer is genuinely curious but doesn’t know what to say because the image in front of them is inconsistent with their previous experience in life.
I am bracing myself for a similar experience with my on-again, off-again, on-again plant-based journey. For a time I would have regarded myself as more vegan than anything else, but after 8 months of a 6-month experiment I started investigating other eating programs to see if they would move me closer to my goals. Nope! The verdict is in and nothing has been as consistently satisfying for my sleep, my mood, my skin (including my scalp) and my weight as eating plant-based. So, that’s the awkward position I find myself in as a part of the Jealous Vegan Team. I’m still finding my way, not really vegan, and you can probably tell just by looking at me.
When you’re judged solely by your success and not your intention, where does that leave you?
If you work in a typical office environment you’ve probably seen the picture of a iceberg in one PowerPoint slide or another. The presenter is trying to showcase how what is visible of an ice cap is just a sliver of its actual size. All you see is what’s above the surface and it’s literally just the tip of the iceberg. The mass of strength is what’s underneath and it’s not visible unless you don the scuba gear and jump in the water. However, our microwave / instant-pot generation doesn’t typically allow for the slow growth that’s churning under the surface. We want results yesterday, are prone to abandon something if it doesn’t make us that overnight sensation, and we’re surely quick to judge others for a course of action that doesn’t yield the results we expect to see.
What we all need is patience. Patience with our bodies as it makes adjustments that aren’t measured by pounds, inches or dress sizes. Patience with those who don’t understand or agree with our approach. Patience with others as they try to find their way.
Patience not to abandon the course because we can’t detect the changes that are happening beneath the surface.