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  • Writer's pictureArjanna van der Plas


My eating habits trigger the hell out of people.

I have a nut allergy, and I prefer eating vegetarian food (#pickyeater)

I don’t drink alcohol (#killjoy)

I only drink coffee once a month (#healthfreak).

And to top it off, I just finished a month-long no sugar-challenge with CARE (#ohstopitalready).

Even writing these things down makes me want to defend myself.

“Just because I don’t like eating meat, doesn’t mean you can’t”, I am saying to you in my head, and “I am not judging you for needing coffee in the morning, caffeine just doesn’t seem to have any effect on me.”

The things I put in my mouth are different from the stuff that the average Swiss consumes. And that often makes many others highly uncomfortable - which in turn makes me uncomfortable.

But that shouldn’t mean I should take that glass of champagne when I dislike drinking alcohol (“oh come on, you can’t celebrate with water!”), or eat a sugary cupcake during the no sugar-challenge (“how can I enjoy eating mine without feeling guilty now?!”), should it?

Pleasing others seems to be the easy choice in these situations. “Ok, I will take the schnitzel/dessert/aperol spritz to release the tension.”

But why would I compromise my body, my health and my joy for that?

If you’ve been reading until here, you probably recognize this discomfort.

Maybe you are not a picky eater, but an introvert who needs to tell people over and over again that even if you love them to death, you’d rather not come to their party.

Or maybe your political preferences are different from those of your friends and family members, and you try to become invisible every time they loudly discuss their discontentment with your favorite politician.

My invitation, inspired by the incredible WOMEN'S HUB session we did with Lira Low, is to approach these situations with kindness and curiosity - for yourself and for the people around you.

Because the moment I show up with kindness and humor (rather than defensiveness) when I decline when someone offers me unlimited spareribs and beer, it leads to a moment of connection, and sometimes even a good conversation.

And the same can happen when we trigger each other when it comes to graver subjects, like the situation in Gaza, COP28, or the surprising election results in the Netherlands.

So that’s my wish for you for this last month of the year: kindness, curiosity and hopefully from there, connection.

What would you like to see more of in the world, in big or small ways? I’d love to hear from you!

Sign up for my semi biweekly two-minute treat emails here to receive my next story in your inbox!

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