Negotiating Activism and Introversion

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This post has been in the making for several months. I first had the idea to write it back in December over my Winter break. As I was reflecting on my first semester in graduate school, I thought a lot about how my personal identities and activism meshed with my tendency toward introversion. Like a lot of my posts, this one is very personal in nature. I hope that it speaks to your whether you’re introverted or feed off of being around others. If you’re also an introvert I hope it might stand as testament to the fact that you’re not alone and there are a lot of us out there. If you’re more extroverted in nature or are somewhat of a combination of both sides of the human interaction spectrum, I hope this post might give you some insight into what it’s like for those of us who need and value some space from others. As always–feel free to reach out to me via the comments section, or via email (available in the “Contact” tab above) if you’d like to open a dialogue on these issues.

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Ok, so I’m an introvert. I’m not fond of large crowds of people, loud noises, and I’d much rather have a long one-on-one coffee session with a friend (which I was lucky enough to do this past weekend! Ok several weekends ago now…) than go out with a group of “girrlll frannds!” shopping or to a bar. I rise to the occasion with presentations and public speaking–to the point where some of the feedback I’ve gotten has really surprised me. (It’s just dealing with a bunch of people coming up to me after that is somewhat bewildering.) I spent my first few months at graduate school thinking a lot about my new location and place within academia and how it collided with my tendency toward introversion. Then I found this article from Huffington post. I posted it to Facebook. As trivial as most people likely think that is, for me it was a big deal.

Let me rephrase that: it was a HUGE, MIND-BLOWINGLY ENORMOUS PERSONAL EVENT TO POST THIS ARTICLE TO FACEBOOK! 

With the posting of the article, the façade of strictly internal pondering was gone. The walls were down and armor off.

I am an introvert.

“Think of each of us as having a cup of energy available. For introverts, most social interactions take a little out of that cup instead of filling it the way it does for extroverts. Most of us like it. We’re happy to give, and love to see you. When the cup is empty though, we need some time to refuel.”

BOOM. Me to a T. Down to the very last detail. So when you’re in a group setting (introvert or extrovert) how do you go about maintaining your personal activist agenda when that cup gets rocked or is suddenly called into question? While I’m getting better and better at it, I often find it difficult to speak up, especially in social situations. Usually this is when the contents of my social interaction cup are running low. So how do I negotiate my activism (not just vegan but queer, feminist, progressive etc.) when a lot of time it’s hard for me to expend the contents of this cup?

My introverted mantra, always in my mind: you do you.

Let me say that there are days, there are situations where speaking up just isn’t going to happen. Does that make you a bad activist? No absolutely not. For many of us, our politics (especially for many vegans) are very personal. If you ever feel that you’re in a situation where you might be verbally attacked, shamed, or made to feel badly about yourself or lifestyle in any way and you don’t think speaking up is the best course of action, don’t do it. And perhaps more importantly, DON’T BEAT YOURSELF UP ABOUT IT. If you’re in a safe space that invites dialogue and where people are interested (without being defensive) and you feel that’s a good platform to share your views by all means, go for it! If it’s just not going to happen, for whatever reason, that’s ok. You’re not a bad activist. You do you.

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If you feel uncomfortable speaking up, do it. Don’t rethink or overthink it, but go ahead and put yourself out there. The more you do it, the easier it will become. And again, if you’re in a situation where that just can’t happen for whatever reason, don’t feel badly about it. Be sure to attend to your needs. You can’t be a good activist if you’re overtired or stressed or super nervous. If you need to recharge before you go to vegan meet up group or before a rally or a show or whatever else, don’t deny yourself what you need.

This is something I’ve struggled with a lot. I’ve found that in many circumstances I push myself out of my natural comfort zone. While this can be a very positive thing that provokes new experiences and growth, sometimes it is exactly what its terminology suggest: really and truly uncomfortable. Often, that can mean unpleasant.

It always surprises me that others don’t realize my introversion. I always get the same slew of responses: “But you’re so polite/friendly/nice/personable!” First off, introversion doesn’t necessarily negate the presence of any standard social niceties or ability to be congenial in public–it only means I have to try a little harder than most to exert them. Most introverts do enjoy people for the most part, but need to balance that out with time to themselves. While I used to see this social approach as an impediment to my activism, I’ve come to see it as a useful tool. Though I don’t speak up as much as some of my friends or colleagues, when I do I make sure that I’ve really thought about what I’m saying.

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If someone asks me about my veganism/feminism/gender (neutrality) politics/queer theory etc. I’m glad to talk about things that I’m passionate about and meet that person where they are with the way I frame what I’m saying. For example, if someone’s interested in veganism, or just likes vegan food I try and talk mostly about foods rather than factory farming. If someone’s using discriminatory language, I try to speak up and tell them not only a more PC way of phrasing a term, but also how and why we should speak about certain topics differently. Respecting boundaries either physical, social, or ideological is the most comfortable way for me to approach my activism, regardless of the topic at hand. I’m a live and let live vegan, after all.

All badass cartoons found here.

Blue Corn Chilaquiles

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Whew! It’s paper writing season around here. Insane. I’ve been eating very well lately (hopefully a recent eats post coming your way soon) but hands down this is one of the best things I’ve made lately. As in holy hell, chilaquiles. Incredible. And it couldn’t be easier to make! One of those tasty meals that’s just perfect for the weekend–indulgent-feeling while maintaining healthful ingredients, pairs well with beer, (or in my case GF cherry cider) and a movie (I had fun with a few 1980s flicks this weekend: The Running Man and Deep Star Six. Both are great, if you’re looking for a flick to watch and I feel like an animal rights/factoring farming narrative and be read into the former.)

This recipes harnesses the smoky, tasty, umami-ridden goodness of chipotle peppers. I used the dried kind reconstituted (see recipe for instructions) but the kind in the can with adobe sauce would be great too. Plus you’d get adobe sauce, so what’s not to love?

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Chilaquiles

1 jar mild-medium salsa (I used Trader Joes salsa Authentica)

1 chipotle peppers,  reconstituted, ribbed and seeded2

2 c. vegetable broth, divided

1 bag blue corn chips (I used these.)

1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed

toppings of your choice: Tofutti, Daiya, cilantro, green onions, lettuce, tomatoes, extra salsa etc.

To reconstitute the chipotles, cut a slit into each with a knife, then submerge in boiling water. The slit allows the water to seep into the interior of the peppers, which can sometimes remain dry depending on how shriveled they are. I let mine soak at least an hour to make sure they’re nice and soft.

To rib and seed your chipotles: cut off the stem end and then lengthwise, open each half and scrape the ribs and seeds out of the pepper. Be sure to avoid touching the interior too much with your hands and definitely DON’T touch your face (ESPECIALLY your eyes) while doing this. While chipotles aren’t the hottest peppers by any stretch (feel free to leave the seeds in some of all of the peppers if you like the heat) they can still cause skin irritation, especially on sensitive areas.

Toss the prepared peppers into a food processor with the entire jar of salsa and 1 cup of the veggie broth. Blend until completely smooth. Transfer to a sauce pan and slowly simmer over low heat until bubbly. Then add the bag of corn chips. I used one of the smaller bags, so I added all of them, but add as many as you can allowing for each one to get fully coated with the sauce. Simmer until the chips are tender. Meanwhile, add the additional cup of broth to a separate pan with the pintos and some salt and pepper. Simmer until heated through and the liquid as thickened and the pintos have absorbed most of it. To serve: place a heft scoop of chilaquiles on a plate and top with pintos, then desired toppings. If you’re using the Daiya, I’d recommend placing that directly on top of the chips with the pintos on top so it gets all gooey and melty. Eat immediately with a fork and plenty of napkins.

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I recommend adding as many nacho-esque toppings as you’d like including lots of salsa verde.

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The perfect end-of-the-weekend-meal to consume while watching a movie and editing a paper. That said, the next couple of weeks are pretty insane for me but I’ll be skulking around the internets mostly via social media. Happy Spring, all!

Eats from my Staycation, Interspersed with Cat Photos

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I was on Spring Break last week! Many of you likely already know this from social media, and here. After my trip up to present at a conference, I spent the last week staycationing–mainly working on papers and relaxing around town. I’ve discovered that I really like Tallahassee when it’s quiet here. Most of the students were off on their breaks, I had a nice quiet week alone in 70+ degree weather. Windows open, podcasts or Arlo Guthrie vinyl on, a cute cat entertaining me with his general state of being. I had a LOT of delicious food last week! Part of relaxing and stayacationing for me involved cooking as much as possible. So here are some of my favorite dishes from my staycation, interspersed with cat photos no less. It was such a good week, and so productive! Glad to be able to share some of it with you here.

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Doesn’t even need a caption. Except: that little blue thing is his owl toy.

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Protein packed gluten free bowl of gooddess: red lentil penne with a tempeh “meat” marinara sauce, steamed kale, millet-based garlic bread.

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A little blurry, but the grump coming from this creature was just too good not to share.

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Very light red curry soup with lots of veggies. Topped with sriracha and pea shoots and plenty of cilantro.

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Helped me with my research last week! Supportive as always, especially if library books (one of his absolute favorite things) are involved.

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I made protein cookie bars! SO GOOD. Didn’t keep too well though. I’m going to give these a few more tries and hopefully tweak the recipe before I share it.

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Finished up my work early Saturday afternoon and treated myself to reading one of my favorite comics, Ghost, at a coffee shop outside.

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Buffalo tempeh, green peas, side of kale with tomatoes and mushrooms, topped with pea shoots. Pea shoots are my JAM lately. So springy, am I right?

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Hands down, one of my absolute favorite staycation concoctions: the PPK’s chipotle mac and cheese with roasted brussels, served over power greens.

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Taken while reading the other night. This literally tickles me to death. I laugh every time I see it. I’m not really sure how I got so lucky in capturing this moment, but it’s kept me entertained ever since.

Also over my staycation: got a LOT of academic work done, cleaned up the apartment (anyone interested in an eco-friendly clean home guide? Thinking of writing one here.), finished the third Game of Thrones Book (if you have spoilers, KEEP THEM TO YOURSELF! Reading all the books before moving to the show.) and am now onto A Feast for Crows, as in only 70 pages in and loving Martin’s descriptions of Dorne so far. Also stoked to see (through just flipping through quickly) perspectives from more women characters in this book. Brienne Tarth for the win!

Also I’ve rekindled my love of Twitter. If you want to talk to me about GOT up through book 3, hit me up there.

Pizza Quesadilla

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There are few things I love more than a good quesadilla. I truly adore them. Melty, gooey, a little toasty and a bit crunchy. Comfort food at its best. As a health conscious vegan, I love getting the best of both worlds in a meal: indulgence and a kick of nutrients in the mix. The pizza quesadilla presents the perfect amalgam of health and comfort with the creaminess of Daiya cheese and vegan sour cream for dunking and a kick of protein and greens in the mix.

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Pizza Quesadilla

Brown rice tortillas

1 jar vegan marinara sauce of your choice

Daiya mozzarella shreds or another vegan cheese you love

fresh spinach

Tofutti for dipping

extra marinara, also for dipping

Heat a non stick frying pan over medium high heat. To assemble a quesadilla, spread each of the 2 tortillas with marinara and sprinkle with Daiya. Add spinach to one half, then place the other tortillas on top. Cook in the pan roughly 2-3 minutes per side or until the Daiya starts to melt. Repeat as often as necessary to achieve your desired number of quesadillas. Serve hot with Tofutti and heated marinara on the side for dipping.

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Not only is this comfort dish gluten free, but it also has a sneaky dose of protein via the tortillas. A serving of brown rice has far more protein (5 g per serving) than other forms of tortilla ingredients. Subbing another type of whole grain tortilla or your choice will allow you to sneak in whatever grain or protein you’re currently craving.

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These make great appetizers or game day food if you’re someone who watches the sports. I tend to like eating this type of thing on the weekends as a comfort food indulgence enjoyed while I watch a favorite movie or TV show. While they feel indulgent (at least to me!) they’re actually astonishingly healthy. Cutting out refined gluten or flours via a whole foods based tortilla and adding in spinach is a great way to pack some whole grain goodness into your quesadilla. You could also add baked tofu or tempeh to these for added protein, olives for an extra salty kick, or any other goodies you might add to your favorite pizza.

Enjoy!