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  • Sophie

A Voice of Experience

When I was in Kindergarten, the only thing I could tell you about food allergies was that I was allergic to sesame and tree nuts and it would be bad if I ate them. I remember sitting on the playground one day after my mom had scheduled for me to meet with a high schooler from my school. Her name was Devyn Penny and I thought that it was so cool that there was someone else with the same allergies as me. Devyn was really nice and I remember feeling a lot more confident after I talked to her. After that conservation, we never really had any interactions until a few weeks ago.

When my mom told me that she had Devyn’s contact information and it could be a really cool experience to talk with her, I was really excited. So as quickly as I could, I set up a time to talk with Devyn over the phone. What I realized was that it’s nice to have people your age that have the same allergies as you but seeing someone a bit older than you being very successful and not letting their food allergy get in the way is another thing entirely. I feel so lucky that I have someone like Devyn in my life who sets a great example of a role model in life.

We talked about everything from cooking to college and from friends to fear. She gave me many great recommendations for restaurants in my area and advised me on the food situations in college. Just like back then, I feel so much more prepared for the world now. Always hearing my parents and my doctor's perspective on things gets repetitive after awhile, and it was very refreshing to have a new opinion on everything that has to do with food allergies in my life.

The most important thing that we talked about that I would like to share however, is fear. Although it seems so, fear isn’t immortal. In can be conquered but you have to have the initiative to do so. It takes different things for everyone to conquer fear but Devyn did it by giving herself a reality check. Having food allergies is hard enough but the anxiety that comes with them can seriously mess with your head. We talked about having “empowerment moments” and how that can be a solution. Empowerment moments are those times when you take control of the situation yourself and regain control mentally of a stressful situation. That’s not all though. With food allergies, it also takes realizing that you have to make the choice to make your food allergies a positive thing. If you do that you have to tell yourself that you’re going to do the best you can do but at one point you can’t control it any longer. You can do your best and no more and as hard as that is to realize, if you truly believe it then you really have overcome the irrational side of food allergy fears.

After our interview/conversation, I sat there thinking about this for a long time. I’ve had so much food allergy anxiety for so long, and here is a solution that has been laid out for me and now all I have to do is take the jump. And so I am. It’s a long process but I’m already seeing results that make me really happy and proud of myself. So thank you Devyn for showing me that fear is not immortal.


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