Ever since I was a child when I set out to do something it was all or nothing. I had to do things the “right” way, follow the rules and know everything there was to know about the task before I dove in. Over time this process became daunting, suffocating and eventually impossible. I became immobilized at the mere thought of trying anything new because of how exhausting doing it “the right way” was. Slowly my extracurricular activities dwindled. I began to feel inadequate, stupid and uninformed. Once I hit my teens I gave up entirely.
After moving to the city I found resources and many other people who had the same kind of inklings I did. It was quite liberating. Although my brain still swarmed with despair over knowing it all before I dipped my toes in the water I began to let go, a little anyway.
Fast forward to my early 20’s and after watching a very shocking PETA video (of course) combined with my pre-existing sensitivity and love of anything with a face (or nervous system) I went vegetarian. This was a pretty easy switch for me. I simply took meat out of my diet. Although this didn’t feel good enough it was for the time being and since I didn’t know anyone else vegetarian at the time I let it go. I did some research on the ole interweb about veganism and with the stigma, internet diarrhea and overwhelming amount of information I decided veganism wasn’t for me. This conclusion saved me from a breathless frenzy which could have potentially led me to give up my vegetarianism entirely.
Onward and upward I pursued my goals. Pregnancy made me weak but again, with no other nonmeat eating support I didn’t think it was a big deal. Post babies I met my very first radical feminist friend who also happened to be vegan. She inspired me to give veganism a go. I started small, weaned myself off of a few things I thought I couldn’t live without and magically I was ok. One day I woke up and said “screw it, I’m vegan.” I had had enough weaning, researching and preparing – I just went for it. I had this notion in my head about being vegan. That it was all the way or not at all (or maybe just a little). Juawana reassured me that anything was better than nothing. I was scared because I didn’t know if I should eat honey and what about the three leather items I own? Would I be stoned by other vegans if I wore my red cowboy boots? What about my two wool sweaters? Would someone call me out? And yet again, she reassured me. I am vegan for more reasons than animals (although they are my biggest motivator). I also love my health as well as the environment. Should I throw away or donate my animal products because I suddenly went vegan? Even if they were used to begin with? I don’t think there is a solid, right or wrong answer to that. Who has the right answer anyway? I do, because it’s my choice, my body, my ethics, my life.
Now that I have been vegan for a year my knowledge has grown, my thoughts, influences and ideas have evolved. I feel really good about my decision. I feel knowledgeable but know that I will learn more every day and that’s pretty rad.
My entire point of this rambling is that it’s ok not to be “perfect”, whatever that means. It’s ok to not know everything there is to know about something. It’s ok for other people to teach you and show you different things. Being humble will get you farther than you can ever imagine.
Try something new, push the label aside and go for it. Don’t think about the stigma, the “definition” or society’s view on what it means to be vegan, feminist, humanist, etc. Just be.
Good luck on your endeavors, take them one day at a time and don’t get hung up on the details.