My most recent appointment with my allergist was going really well … until he broke the news to me that I will probably never outgrow my allergies and they will probably never reduce in severity. Ever since then, I have been thinking a lot about adulthood and life after college. I haven’t even admitted this to anyone (including my family and closest friends) but I am actually terrified to grow up especially knowing my allergies aren’t going away any time soon. I feel like at this point in my life I am good at managing my food allergies but I know that as I get older, I will encounter new situations that will challenge my coping skills.
Here is what I am most afraid of as I grow up:
1. Being Financially Independent
I am so lucky that my parents still support me still even though I am in college. My grocery bill alone is enough to make any college student want to cry. It is scary to think that all of the additional things that my parents pay for like my medications, doctors appointments, insurance, hospital bills will be my responsibility soon.
Currently, since I am only 19, I don’t drink. Having as many food allergies as I do makes it hard to find safe alcohol. As a result I have chosen not to drink until I am old enough to legally call companies and discuss with them the ingredients that are in their alcohol. I know when I am older my friends will want to go to the bar and drink. I’m afraid that I will feel left out when we go to the bars as I sip my safe diet coke.
3. Eating Out
Because of all my food allergies, I can not eat any food prepared in restaurants. As a result, I bring all of my own food out to eat. I am afraid as I get older it will be seen as less acceptable to bring my lunchbox of my own food to restaurants.
4. Hand Shaking
As weird as it sounds, I am afraid of being in a situation where shaking hands could be awkward. Personally, I don’t like to disclose my allergies until people really get to know me. Unfortunately, most of the time, meeting new people involves shaking hands which is potentially dangerous if I am greeting someone who has just been eating food I am allergic to. I am also afraid of coming off as weak or unprofessional if I tell them I can’t shake their hand because of my allergies.
5. Loosing Protection of Others
Growing up, I have always been lucky to have friends and family who look out for me. Having food allergies and being hyper-vigilant 24/7 gets tiring. I am so fortunate to have friends and family who shoulder the burden. I am afraid though that as I get older, my friends and family will stop protecting me and I will be left to manage my allergies all alone. I am so thankful to everyone who helps me now and I don’t want to lose them.
6. Meeting the Right Guy
When you have food allergies, finding the right guy can be hard. It is hard to find someone who gets it and is willing to keep you safe. I will never expect my boyfriend/husband to avoid everything I am allergic to but I hope I can find a guy who will be willing to eat my food and help me stay safe.
7. Getting Married
I think it is safe to say every girl dreams about her wedding. We dream about the dress we are going to wear, the classic cake smash, our honeymoon and sharing one of the most important days of our life with the people we love. I am not going to lie, as much as I like fantasizing it, I fear my wedding. I fear how difficult it is going to be to be safe when all my relatives want to kiss me on the cheek. I fear how we are going to pull off a classic cake smash. Most of all though, I fear coming in a limo to my reception but that I will leave in an ambulance.
8. Having Children
I have always loved kids. I always joke with my mom but I want a lot of kids and that she will be a grandmother to lots of grandchildren. I am afraid though that they will have food allergies too. I don’t want them to have to deal with what I deal with on a daily basis. At the same time, I don’t want to worry about not being able to kiss or hug my child because they ate something I am allergic to.
9. Not Living To See a Cure
Every day I hope that food allergies will have some incredible breakthrough treatment and they will be cured. Unfortunately though, I don’t see any convincing evidence of that happening soon. I just hope that scientists prove me wrong. I am afraid of living my entire life with food allergies and not getting a change to experience food the way my friends and family do.
10. Living With Regrets
I try to live my life without regrets and as cliche as it may sound, it is true. I am afraid though that I am going to look back on my life at the things I didn’t do in college because of my allergies and wish that I had done them.
No matter how old I get though, I will always still be young and goofy at heart!
Originally published on Lily Roth’s blog, Food Allergy Survival Guide