Food Allergy 101: My allergy won't ruin my fun.
What if my food allergy was a real, live person? And what if I could talk to him about what he's taught me over the years? Every Thursday, I get that chance...
My friends and I are deep into a game of Catan, one of our favorite board games. It's an intense game, of course. When my friends and I are playing it, it always is.
Psssst. Pssssst. Pssssssssst.
Mr. A., my allergy, has been trying to get my attention for the last hour. He wants to play. We won't let him. No need for him here at this table. I'm not allergic to dice or to the Catan board or to the wooden playing pieces. All safe snacks. Nothing here can harm me.
There are no open seats at the table. And no one here is going to slide over to let him in. This is an allergy-free zone. My friends protect me like that.
I've learned a long time ago that I don't always have to let Mr. A. in when I'm playing games. I can be selfish if I feel threatened. I can be rude. I can be honest, especially if it means protecting myself.
When you have a food allergy, you need spaces and places where you can let your mind go so you can recharge. I work hard at school and at my jobs and on this blog, and I want to laugh and let loose like everyone else. I control if he sits here. I control if I let him play. And now, I'm too busy having fun for him to be anywhere near.
JJ Vulopas is a senior at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. An advocate for young people, JJ has lived with food allergies his entire life. He is the author of the children's book, Land of Not. You can read his daily blog at www.thelandofcan.com. Follow him on Instagram & Twitter @thelandofcan.