Dear Allergy Teens,
You have compelled me to write this letter after seeing an instagram post the other day. It stated:
“At 16 I hate my food allergy more than ever. It sucks!!”
My first reaction is to ask how can you hate what you can’t change? That doesn’t make sense.
I know it can suck, I’ve been there. I’ve been labelled the allergy girl my whole life. I’ve had an allergic reaction. I’ve been terrified to eat. I’ve felt left out at parties and school trips when I can’t join in with everyone else, eat the same as everyone else, be the same as everyone else. You can sit there only drinking water feeling completely sorry for yourself. At these points I’ve thought why me?!
When it’s that time of year when school, college and university are starting again. The reality of starting coursework, exams, having to actually sort your life and meeting new people hits you. The last thing you want is to be singled out, to be labelled ‘different’…
Mark Twain put it perfectly: “I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.” It’s true we all worry sometimes about what other people think, and it’s true, people judge you, but they do it based on many more things than an allergy…(and those people who you worry are judging you, aren’t you just as guilty of judging them..?)
Having an allergy is a challenge but you can use it to make yourself a better, more confident, and a cooler all round human being. Not many people get the opportunities you do by having an allergy.Not many people get the opportunities you do by having an allergy. Click To Tweet
At this point you must be thinking, “what on earth is this lady on about?! opportunity?!” Yes thats right, allergies are an opportunity. You have an opportunity to be a better version of yourself.
Let me break it down for each of you guys and girls:
Guys, do you want to be cool and sought after by the girls? I’m pretty sure your answer is going to be a yes. What do you think girls want? They want a confident guy who knows his own mind and is willing to stand up for what he believes in. Not someone who is insecure and lets everyone walk all over him. Well, your allergy seems like a pretty good challenge to develop your confidence because if you don’t you will probably end up hospital. So, don’t let your allergies hold you back, don’t let the anxiety over your allergies control you, you control it. Own your allergy, do what’s necessary and don’t apologise for it.
Girls, you never have to feel embarrassed about having an allergy. People will say what they like and some of it isn’t always nice, but you always control how you feel about it. It is your life, your mind and your body. You have a responsibility to look after yourself and that means your allergy too. However that doesn’t mean your allergy should control you. You are in control and strong enough to advocate for yourself, even if you don’t feel like it. Just remember your life is more important than other people’s feelings and if someone can’t respect your allergy needs they are not worth having in your life, full stop.
So allergy teens, it comes down to this: life is more than your allergies. Allergies are only a biological fact of your body. They don’t define who you are. I mean everyone is allergic to rat poison but you never hear anyone complain about how their life would be better if they could only eat some without consequences. You have an allergy, but that’s just a fact. Facts do not equal feelings because you control how those facts get processed.
If you start complaining or feeling sorry for yourself, that is your decision. But have think, does it actually solve anything? No. It’s fine to have a 5 minute time out, get up set and feel it all, but then you need to decide how you are going to solve your problem. How you feel and how you handle your allergy, how you teach people to think about allergies is completely up to you. If you handle it with calmness and confidence, everyone else will follow suit. After all, when a ship is sinking everyone looks to the calm and controlled person for direction.
The bad news (that you already know): You’ve got a life threatening allergy, looming over you like an angry dragon.
The good news: The best people in life are those who’ve grown stronger from overcoming personal disaster. Your allergy is a wild dragon that must be tamed, and who doesn’t like a dragon tamer?
You are probably going to have this allergy for life, so you best get over it, get on with it and own it!
Nina, grown up allergy kid (anaphylaxis: peanuts and tree nuts)
P.S. Fellow dragon tamers, if you have any comments, queries, rants, raves, questions, likes or dislikes feel free to leave me a note in the comments section or send me an email.