When my mom mentioned a gluten free event in her area (with FOOD), I decided to take a look. Shortly thereafter, I was attending a "Gluten Free Tasting" held in Clearwater, FL. It was hosted by a small gluten free business that focuses on awareness, marketing and general gluten free goodness (Gluten Away is the company name - what's not to like about that?). I wasn’t sure what to expect walking in and was surprised to be so warmly greeted by the team there. While my family meandered onto the main event (um yes, food!), I stood and talked with the host, and then her son. They both had Celiac and they both understood what I can never fully convey to anyone without it. My questions rolled out like heavy waves, consistent and sloppy. “Do you feel this”, “have you ever felt that”, “what do you do when this happens”??? It was pathetic and wonderful at the same time and I realized that sometimes, you just gotta find a friend!
Attending my first (of what would become many) gluten free event made me realize that life is just not meant to be lived alone. Not that I do by any means. I have more than a handful of close friends and family that I am blessed beyond measure to call mine. But, in that instant, there was something that connected these new people with me, something people without Celiac can empathize with but never fully know. You may explain to people what it’s like to be tired after bringing a new baby home. But in an instant of meeting another mom with a newborn you can stop explaining. They get it!
And so as my transition begins of starting a business focused on community, I would encourage you to branch out and meet some new people. You don’t have to have Celiac (or a newborn for that matter), you could just be wondering how to be a woman in this crazy world. Or, how to transition from college life to a full-fledged adult. Whatever the case may be, I am telling you it is worth taking some time to talk to people living in your shoes. That being said, be picky! I don’t take a lot of gluten free advice from the waitstaff that thinks it means organic ingredients and I wouldn’t want career advice from someone who is living in their parent’s basement playing video games most of the day. Find someone that knows a little something about where you are and is a solid, positive influence for you. And then, when you’ve learned a little something, take the time to pass it on to someone else. What’s the harm? We could all use a little extra karma : )