Teachers sometimes label students based on demographics, gender, appearance, family name, and more. Potential employers mark applicants with facial piercings, tattoos, locs, size, hair color, and communication style.
More labels we use to describe people are a parent, educator, athlete, Christian, attorney, wife, coach, or something else.
Then there is…Vegan, Vegetarian, Pescatarian, Lacto-Ovo-Vegetarian, Macrobiotic, and more.
The words are labels. Based on your understanding of a name and the people attached to them, you develop perceptions. Your perceptions motivate your thoughts and your actions.
Your perception may also influence your expectations of the behavior and actions of others.
I am not much for labels to describe myself and pride myself on being an eclectic woman. Having said that, I self-identify with Veganism.
I do not eat meat, dairy products, or seafood. Occasionally I “cheat” with shrimp, lobster, or crab.
Recently, I was dining at a restaurant. I ordered shrimp. I was casually called out for posting my “Vegan” dishes on social media but eating shrimp at the restaurant. Someone at the table had a belief about their understanding of Veganism, and I did not fit the model, so they questioned me.
I was surprised but choose to explain. I know I did not have to explain, but, as an educator, I felt compelled to expound. I want to teach others on any topic, concept, or idea I am versed in.
And so, here is the lesson.
I do not take life too seriously and avoid placing restrictions on myself that create unnecessary tension or stress.
From the time we are born, our days on earth are numbered. God is the only one who knows when we will be called home. Life is short, so I pursue joy.
November 2019, marked my second year anniversary as a Vegan. I have no desire to ever eat meat, dairy, or fish again. I am cool with a plant-based lifestyle. My weekly grocery list never includes lobster, crab, or shrimp.
When dining out with family or friends, occasionally, a restaurant will have a limited menu. So limited that, when I need a protein source, I will order lobster, crab, or shrimp. And you know what? I order it without guilt and with a big ass smile on my face. Lol!
Okay, honestly, a part of me hopes to someday eliminate this choice; however, I lift weights, and I need to continue to develop muscle mass. Never mind, 55 is creeping up on me.
I am not, and don’t want to be that one person in a party of six that insists everyone change restaurants because of a limited vegan/vegetarian menu. No shade to the person(s) who stand up and do so. It is not that important to me. I accept and forgive myself instead of berating myself for not being as I want to be.
What is more important to me is nurturing relationships with those who matter most to me. I consciously choose to experience love, joy, and laughter with people who matter.
I am imperfect.
“For we all stumble in many ways if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body.– James 3:2
“Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins.-Ecclesiastes 7:20
The purpose of this post is to encourage you to resist expecting others to behave a certain way based on a label (self-titled or other). I will be the first to admit it; it takes practice, but trust me, I know you can do it.
As it applies to your wellness when you set expectations for the behaviors of others based on your perception of how you think they should act, you create an environment conducive to experience disappointment and possible conflict. I learned this the hard way.
We must learn to accept people for who they are and remember, the only person we can change is ourselves. Focus on you. What do you want out of your life? What are your goals? Are you holding back on something because you are worried about what others will think or say?
Consider this post a challenge. A challenge to break from your discernment of how you think you should act based on an archaic notion from the past.
In 22 days, the ball in Times Square will drop. With the New Year come new goals and resolutions. Instead of randomly setting another New Year’s resolution that will fade faster than the ink on a paper receipt, set an intentional and realistic goal to do something you have always wanted to do. Like something that will set your soul on fire! Go BIG. Make it worth the time and effort.