Monday, June 24, 2013

Monday Musings - vegetarians, cat lovers and anxiety, oh my!

I asked for topic suggestions a few days ago, and here are the things you guys want me to write about. Off we go.

1. Why do vegetarians always feel like they have to tell people?
Though I've never been a vegetarian, I'm going to find as many answers to this one as I can. Incidentally, I don't think I will ever be a vegetarian because of bacon. If there was a bacon exception, maybe. Maybe.

For most of the vegetarians I know (and vegans for that matter), I truly believe that they tell people because they want to make sure you don't accidentally make them eat something they choose not to. Having been fed things I wouldn't have chosen to eat in the past underhandedly, I get it. Regardless of the reason that someone chooses to be a vegetarian, they clearly don't have intentions to consume meat. Most of the rest of the people in the world eat meat, so logic would just require a courtesy "head's up" in advance.

I think this is compounded because in most areas of the country, vegetarians are the exception, not the rule. Almost no one asks people what their food preferences/requirements are, so those who eat anything outside the normal expectations in our society have to take the initiative to tell others. There are areas, like the Boulder area here, where most people just accept that vegetarians and vegans are as common as omnivore humans, and the culture of the area is just different. That isn't the case in most places, though.

I actually know a dude who is just a carnivore. I don't think he's eaten a fruit or vegetable voluntarily in his entire life. Seriously.

Many vegetarians choose the lifestyle for health reasons, which is awesome. I'm sure they get SO FUCKING TIRED of people asking them where they get their protein from. First of all, tons of foods have protein in them, not just meat. Second of all, stop asking this question because it's rude. No one asks a meat-eater where they get their fiber from.

p.s. they eat these and a bunch of
other plant based proteins. deal with it.
Some vegetarians are activists as well, and have chosen not to eat animals for that reason. They, like any other activist in any other realm, feel compelled to educate people about animal living conditions, meat processing and anything else oogie about the industry so as to dissuade others from eating meat as well. They do it because they feel some higher motivation to share the lifestyle and reasons for it, to advocate for it - and that's no different than anyone else who speaks out about any other issue. It is annoying if they decide to tell you about the conditions cows are raised in while you're eating that cheeseburger, though.

Some vegetarians are pretentious about it, talking about it only because it implies some kind of food superiority. Which is fine and all, go eat your $24/lb vegan cheese if you must, but I really could care less...and I sure as hell don't have $24 to spend on cheese. I'm talking to you, Gwenyth.

2. Why do people who love cats feel compelled to make other people love cats?
Oh, if only I knew. I love cats as much as the next person, but I don't love cats. I've been a cat owner for most of my life and enjoy the companionship of them, as well as appreciate the diversity in their personalities. What I don't understand are those who simply insist that everyone should love cats.

Not everyone does. I have a friend who is terrified of them.

I know people who have broken up relationships because one loved a cat and one was allergic, and they chose the cat. I know people who dress their cats up. I know people who take their cats on vacation.

Which is GREAT! But I'm not ever going to love a cat like that. And neither are most people.

I'm not in a great place with this topic and really didn't want to write about it. My cat has gone missing. As much as he drove me absolutely insane, I loved the jerkface. We tried and tried to keep him indoors and he refused, attacking us any time we were near doors. He wouldn't be contained. He loved the outdoors. He hunted and climbed trees and chased everything.

And he hasn't been home in a week, as of today.

Save the lectures on proper cat ownership, please. I've had indoor cats and I've had outdoor cats. This one was an outdoor cat if there ever was, and as humans we can't train that out of them. Sad face.

3. How do you deal with social anxiety?
This is one type of anxiety that I haven't had to deal with too much personally, but I have had to deal with it every single day since Freckles was born. She has sensory processing difficulties, had horrible colic and just generally doesn't adjust quickly or easily to any change in social situations. As she has gotten older, it has gotten a little better.

Here's what I've learned, being the mom of the "shy" kid.

First, she isn't actually shy. She's overwhelmed, anxious, and sometimes scared. There's a difference.

Second, it helps if she has some idea what to expect in advance. Who will be somewhere, what will be expected of her, what activities will be happening, what adults will be present.

Third, it takes time. She will eventually adjust to almost any situation, given long enough. Even when she's around people she knows well in familiar settings, it can still take a while. Every single soccer season, we had to contend with anxiety problems before the first practices.

Fourth, be a safe place. Acknowledge the anxiety without feeding into it. Reassure them (or yourself) that things will be okay, that you will be okay. Taking deep breaths will help calm the reactions. Sometimes I literally have to get down to her level and in her face to get her to calm down. She needs to know someone who understands is there.

Fifth, celebrate victories. When my daughter had to get up in front of the entire school and speak, it was a hard time as a parent, let me tell you. I didn't want to call more attention to it than necessary, but didn't want to pretend like it didn't bother her either. Acknowledge without feeding in. She did it, and she was great...and that's when you have to let the reaction come, only after. Situations like that are really hard for her, and every time she conquers it, we congratulate her.

Sixth, don't push it. From the time she was a baby, we learned (at first the hard way), that forcing her to be around people or situations she wasn't comfortable with would backfire miserably and make everything worse. So we stopped. It was hard for some family members, as they took her hesitation towards them personally...but as I explained about a million times, it was never about them...it was about her.

Social anxiety symptoms improve in some people as they get older, but in others it worsens. It's important for others to understand that the anxiety isn't something they can necessarily predict or control, and that sometimes it just happens. Gently pushing boundaries can help some people overcome it, if done for the right reasons.

My advice to all the people out there who don't have to deal with it is this: just be patient with the people who do. And don't take whatever they do or don't do personally, because I can promise it's not about you.

3 comments:

  1. My sister became a vegetarian when she was a teenager. To this day my Grandmother cannot understand what it means. She still makes chicken. Sometimes telling people doesn't even work! haha!

    Our cat is missing too. :(

    I have some social anxiety. It has gotten better with age. I think mostly because I am more in control as an adult and I know what I am feeling. When I was a kid I'd just get pushed into a crowd and forced to talk...that only made it worse!

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  2. Nooooooooo......come home kitties!

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  3. My middle son has social anxiety...it was to the point when he was younger that he would scream bloody murder if someone talked to him, yeah there was NO chance of anyone trying to kidnap him, lol. He still has it, if his brother isn't on the bus, he freaks out. If is brother isn't at school (and he knows it) he freaks out...it's almost like he has a panic attack. This last school year was quite the challenge, because it was the first year where he was the only child (of mine) that was in that school, his older brother was at the high school, and his younger brother was in elementary...so needless to say, I had to drive him to and from school everyday.

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