“You Don’t Eat Cheese?”
Whenever I go out to eat with people outside my family, the conversation always starts the same way. Most people are confused, and some have even gotten mad at me for the way my taste buds work. I do not, and have not eaten, for as long as I can remember, the staple in the American diet known as cheese. My parents say that I used to like cheese when I was a baby, but as we know, babies don’t really have a say about what they can and cannot eat. The pungent smell, slimy texture, and the idea that it is a product of old cow milk, all add to my epic battle with this much-loved food.
Not eating cheese has caused a fair share of problems at restaurants, as I constantly have to ask for dishes without it. In addition, I’ve had to return dishes to the kitchen if just the tiniest drop of parmesan is on it, which does not make the restaurant staff happy. While my eating preference can be annoying, and sometimes even embarrassing, it comes with its benefits. For example, I don’t have high cholesterol—a problem in my family—because I don’t eat cheese. In addition, not eating cheese is the perfect conversation starter in almost any situation, because it is atypical.
While I can’t control the fact that I don’t like cheese, my dislike of it and advocacy against it have given me the courage to stand up for other unpopular things I believe in. Instead of watching sports highlights in my free time like most young men, I watch documentaries about the ocean because that’s where my true interest lies. When I was ten, instead of asking for toys for Christmas I asked for money to start my first stock portfolio because that’s what I found fun. My best friends have called these, among other things that I do, “weird,” but I don’t mind it at all. These traits are what make me me.
When I look around I always see many people trying to duplicate the looks, sentiments, and actions of others. This is especially true today when celebrities are followed around by cameras at all times and half of the stories in the news are about who’s dating whom, rather than serious issues. People are often afraid to be themselves because they are too busy trying to be someone else. If you live life trying to be someone else, you can never truly be happy.
The school I go to has a small graduating class of around 120 students, most of whom have been together since kindergarten. Everyone knows everything about one another, and social groups are very cliquey. Over the years, I’ve seen kids and even their parents do some crazy things to try to be popular, but even if their attempts are successful, these kids don’t always achieve the happiness they seek. I’m lucky that my parents not only supported my eating habits but my independent thoughts and interests as well. If there’s anything I learned from Bronxville, it is to be true to myself and to question social norms. I constantly say this to younger kids asking for advice as they go into high school, and it will definitely be a talking point of mine when I am a freshman-transition leader this fall.
Because I am comfortable with being different, I am able to be the real me. While it can be very funny to hear people's reactions to me telling them that I don’t eat cheese, it has taught me something valuable about myself. Hopefully, people don’t actually think I’m weird, but the “being different” part I can live with. Actually, I am proud of that.
You Don’t Eat Cheese?
“You Don’t Eat Cheese?”