I’ve been thinking about writing this post for a while now and I must admit that it’s hard for me to write for a number of reasons. Finding the balance between celebrating my vulnerability in this space with my readers and respecting the vulnerability of others is a very challenging and sometimes tedious task. It may not always come easily to me, but I strive to be as open and sharing as possible. I believe unconventionally honest openness along with radical acceptance can be life-changing, and I want to honor that in practice—both in my real life and here on Clear the Way. That’s why I’m sharing this post with you today.
Before I open up to you, I want it to be clear that this post is not a judgment call on those who choose to celebrate this holiday or how they may choose to celebrate it. I simply want to share a personal decision that I feel is right for me, for now. I understand that the Thanksgiving holiday is (to many people) a time to gather with loved ones to share in gratitude, acceptance, and delicious home-cooked foods. While this is true for some, it has not been true for me.
Thanksgiving has been very difficult for me for a number of reasons, and this is where I feel stuck because challenging the celebration of Thanksgiving has never gone well for me in my personal life.
I have struggled to make peace with unmet (personal) expectations and my strict vegan, gluten-free diet as well as my political beliefs involving the Thanksgiving myth, but have found no way to do so while taking part in this holiday in the traditional sense (or even somewhat traditional, with vegan substitutes). For many years, the Thanksgiving celebration has been a source of great stress and agony in my life, and that is why I have decided not to celebrate this year.
I’m not saying this is a forever choice. While addressing my activism in all areas of my life lately, I realize that my choices will always be in flux. The person I am today is very different from the person I was even two years ago. That’s the beautiful thing about living and learning—you change.
But this is also what we resist most. It can be very hard to let go of what is familiar, even when it’s no longer familiar. For years, I have not related to the celebration of this holiday. I have felt within myself that I am compromising something very great, and that compromise has not been worth it.
I am proud of my decision to opt out of this year’s celebration. It’s the right decision for me. I feel, for the first time in a long time, that I am honoring that small fire inside of me that is working to forge me into my future self. I feel like I am finally living my own life, learning to respect others and accept differences while respecting and accepting myself.
For this break, I will be exploring new ways of celebration that focus on honoring the histories of the overlooked, finding gratitude within my own framework, and probably eating greasy Chinese take-out. Even though I won’t be celebrating Thanksgiving this year, I wish you happiness this Thanksgiving no matter how you do or do not celebrate.
Tell me, how do you find a balance between living for others and living for yourself? Have you ever had to make a difficult decision to negotiate these feelings?