I really don’t want to hear it.
There was this popular show among my friends when I was in high school called Gundam Wing. I’d watched it, not been terribly impressed, shrugged and went on with my life.
As it turned out moving on with my life was going to prove rather difficult. Every conversation they had, every event they held, every note we passed in class had to do with Gundam Wing. What started out as an easy to ignore television show that simply wasn’t to my taste very quickly became something I came to loathe. Not because of the content of the show itself, but because I couldn’t avoid the constant bombardment of information that I had to zone out. It’s hard to have a good time with your friends when the only thing they want to talk about is something you can’t contribute to.
This is a much lesser form of a common theme that drives me up the wall: preaching your lifestyle.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy for my friends when they find something that works for them. I’m not particularly religious but I’m glad my friends find solace in theirs. In rough times I’m even jealous that they can achieve that kind of calm and peace.
It’s one thing to have found what works for you and be happy about it. It’s quite another to insist that since it worked for you it must work for everyone else.
The logic here is as mind-boggling as it is frequently applied.
For starters it works off of a one-size-fits-all mentality. If this thing worked for me, it must work for the entire world. This is the tenant both Weight Watchers and evangelical Christianity are built on, and trust me, these are folks you don’t want to emulate.
I remember going to Weight Watchers when I was younger. The way they structured their meals at the time involved avoiding fat and calories and eating foods a little higher in sugar and carbohydrates so their participants wouldn’t forget what flavor tastes like. Being diabetic, obviously this didn’t work out for me. The list of foods I could eat was incredibly slim, so every meal time felt like my own personal Sophie’s Choice. Did I want to be thin or healthy?
As any sane human being will tell you, ramping up your stress and anxiety while on a diet is basically the worst plan possible. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health, and you shouldn’t let it fall by the wayside while dieting. It’s a bad idea for a variety of reasons, least of which is that you’re less likely to actually lose weight. Or lose it in a healthy way, at least.
When it comes to morality I tend to dump religious zealots and vegans/vegetarians in the same bucket here. I feel like the need to proselytize comes from a strictly moral place where a person tells themselves that their choice is the only morally correct one. I was raised southern Baptist and we had access to the only real religious truth. Anyone out there practicing any other kind of religion, including other denominations of Christianity (especially those soulless Catholics), needed to be converted. We would go door to door in neighborhoods as children and try to convert the people living there. I realize now that they used children to keep people from slamming their doors on us so readily.
Vegans and vegetarians are attempting to convert us on animal rights rather than religious morality, but the message is nearly the same. We have found the correct, moral way to eat and live and if you don’t follow ours you’re a terrible person. My fave meat-eating insult is “bloodmouth carnist,” for the record.
For the most part all of these people come from a good place. These people want us to be saved, they want us to be good people. They want us to treat animals and humans well. What they fail to do is take into account the numerous reasons why these lifestyles don’t work for everyone. Someone with restricted mobility, funds and diet may not be able to live a vegan lifestyle. A person who doesn’t believe in the Christian tenants shouldn’t be forced into following a religion that makes no sense to them.
The bottom line is easy to follow: don’t act like you know what’s best for someone else. Talk about what makes you happy, absolutely. Offer tips if someone asks for them, even. But just because something worked well for you doesn’t mean it’s going to work well for everyone. We are a wonderfully diverse population. It’s that very diversity that makes this approach completely ridiculous.
Images via pinterest.com and giphy.com.
Comment: Have you ever been annoyed by someone preaching about an obsession?