Collaboration post – Finding a community
I met Kiara on Instagram. You know how that works. First a like here and there. We started following each other for support (we are both starting) realizing we liked what the other one was talking about.
Let’s collaborate – I said.
Right on – She answered.
We have different starting points – she is focusing on the community and I’m usually talking about your own development – but the reality is: sometimes to improve yourself is the best thing you can do for your community and it also works the other way around. Every now and then the best thing you can do for your self is to invest in your community
And that’s how and why we have today’s post. Hope you enjoy Kiara’s story, wrote by herself:
Do you remember that moment in your life that was the beginning of a big change?
I was working at a home furniture store for about 6 months and during one of my 5-hour shifts, my boss asked me to hand out white chocolate cookies and milk chocolate squares. It seemed like a fun and relaxing task to be asked.
However, at that time it was the hardest task they have ever asked me to do. Simply because serving out white chocolate and milk chocolate felt against my morals. Little back story, I am vegan, I went vegan when I was 16 years old and I have been vegan for 8 years now.
When I was being shown the display table with the cookies and chocolate I felt I was forced to a halt. I didn’t want to participate, which after an internal freakout, I had voiced my feelings to my boss.
However, those emotions stuck with me longer than I had anticipated. I started to become sensitive to the plastic issue at work and wanted to stop being in charge of selling products derived from animals, such as couches, pillows, and bedding. My emotions were intense, I was crying profusely in the washroom at work, solely to the pain that I felt mother cows were enduring for this milk chocolate and mini chocolate squares.
In the washroom, I thought about the conversation I had with my boss and I felt I was being too prideful and that it would negatively change the way my co-workers viewed me. I felt intimidated by the animal industry as they have a massive influence on the world. I pondered the thought that I had not one vegan friend to reach out too and that made the tears stream down my face more.
Sooner than later, I recognized that this was going to be the beginning of a big transformation in my life. I started to investigate the animal industry through posts on Instagram and started watching videos posted by an animal rights activist named Joey Carbstrong. He was participating in Anonymous for the voiceless, a group of animal rights activists who stand in the street with laptops or TVs showing footage inside the animal industry. People were stopping to have conversations with these activists. I watched a few of his videos and at the end of each video he would say “become active.” With strength and determination, I did decide to become active for the animals.
That following week I looked for the nearest animal rights group and luckily I was a 15-minute bike ride from the vigils. A couple of kind activists drove me to a cow-vigil. I looked inside these trucks and I saw young mother cows fearful of their life yet emitting the sweetest energy that made this experience all too corrupt. After realizing the struggles these animals endure and the empowerment I felt from being active, I realized it was time I step my game up.
I started standing in front of the trucks, with fellow activists, that were moments from driving into the slaughterhouses. I began handing out brochures to people in the middle of the road, singing to the animals, giving water to the animals, speaking into a megaphone advocating for these individuals, disrupting Ribfest and posting this content on my Instagram page. I met so many vegan people & went to so many vegan events.
It was unreal being able to eat anything at lunch hour and not pick around what was and wasn’t vegan. I would attend one or two pig vigils every week and even go before I had my work shifts. I would be there in the depths of winter, still going to see the 6-month-old baby pigs before slaughter. I was a dedicated activist and I felt empowered. I was surrounded by devoted activists who have been doing this for years and willing to risk their freedom and peace for animals. It was a community that felt like home in my heart.
My devotion and the connections I made in this community helped me connect so many dots within my personal life. Standing up against injustice was always something I wanted to do in my life since I was a kid. I had no idea that animal rights activism was going to be the first cause for me to advocate in.
There couldn’t have been a better cause for me during this time in my life. Internal voids I had for years we’re being filled by this community and that’s what made me stay going during such disheartening times. I went from feeling misunderstood and alone to expressive and appreciated and admired. This community made me realize that being vegan was bigger than just me, it was changing the earth, greatly changing animal lives and peoples lives. Being part of a community can do beautiful things within our personal lives that we may not think possible at first. Since joining this community my vegan journey became all that much better. I now feel that being vegan isn’t a lifestyle I am living against a whole nation. It is a lifestyle, born in my heart, that has helped me overcome many challenges.
There was one big thing that I realized during this time; that the different social groups all had one thing in common. We as human beings struggle with how we treat ourselves and with how we treat each other. That any real change in this world starts from changing our individual choices. I created community.tm, in the realization that we deserve an opportunity to better ourselves and build positive connections with one another in this world. Despite what social group you’re in or where you are on your self-love journey or how you self express, you can join this community. I gained a lot from a community and now I am giving back a community for others.
About the author: Kiara Armstrong (23) is the owner of @community.tm and an activist for the animals, environment & humans. She’s committed to continuing to better herself & to become an entrepreneur.