Living with food allergies is hard to come to terms with. Whether you have just one allergy or many like me, this condition is something that is inescapable – but why should we try to escape it? I recently attended FARE’s National Food Allergy Summit in Orlando. I got the opportunity to meet people in the food allergy community that I’ve connected with for years, hear others’ stories, and learn about the recent progress the community has made. It was truly an incredible experience.
Meeting people who were so proud and educated about living with food allergies gave me the confidence to realize that having food allergies is one of the best parts about myself. I left the summit with an overwhelming sense of self-acceptance. As an allergy kid, that was perhaps the first time I’ve felt that way.
Self-acceptance is easier said than done. It can be hard to accept yourself if you don’t have allergies, let alone if you’ve grown up with them your entire life. I’ve learned that people can try to fix you, change you, or tell you how to be, but in the end it’s those who see you for all that you are that truly help you find self-acceptance.
In recent years, there have been lots of scientific innovations to help food allergies, some of which might even be a “cure.” This research is important and crucial to making this world a better place for people with allergies. However, it’s important to remember that at the heart of these advancements should be the intent to support people with food allergies, not to change them. I don’t need to be “fixed”; I just want to live in a world where I can be who I am, safely and unapologetically.
As I continue to go about my life as a proud allergy kid, my goal is to have an open mind and see others for who they are. Everyone has their own personal struggles, whether it’s allergies or something else, and that’s okay. Our struggles aren’t something that we need to fix or change, but rather something that we can give ourselves the permission to accept. I know that many people will not accept me for my food allergies, but for now, I know that I do.