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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

"You Can't Handle the Truth!"

Many people have been curious about why I started blogging. The truth is I was going little crazy (evidenced in my last blog), and needed an outlet. I was determined to find a positive way to express my frustrations and since people often laughed when I told them my zany tales, I thought that just maybe I could write the stories down and try and find humor in all my daily encounters with Utah culture.

So, for those of you care, blogging has helped me tremendously. I now see a story almost everywhere and it has been fun and challenging to share those stories with you. I have been pleasantly surprised at how many LDS readers have appreciated how I approach things and have thanked me for giving them an insight into what it feels like to be an outsider. I have also gotten comments from many “PLU’S” who can totally relate to my experiences. I am happy they have found me and look forward to hearing more from them. However, a few readers have not been so enthusiastic. Unfortunately, it seems a few people were offended by my anecdotes. That was certainly never my intention. I just try to be honest about my life and feelings and add a touch of humor to both. I poke fun at myself as much as I do at Utah. I do appreciate all the commentary I am getting – and am pleased it is mostly positive. To those who fail to find any humor or empathy I ask what do you want from me?

“You want answers?”

“I want the truth!”

“You Can’t Handle the Truth!”


Mary, From the mountains said...

I posted a link to your blog on my facebook page for other people who are either new to Utah or have lived here their entire lives, but still feel like outsiders. Your latest post reminds me of the time I went to a Tupperware party where I was the only person who was not from the Philippines. I sat in isolation not understanding a word that was spoken all evening and the other women just kept staring at me.

jill said...

Hi Mary. I am so happy to have you as a reader and fellow PLU! As I have said there are so many times that I have felt like the village idiot since I moved to Utah. The sad part is when they actually treat you like one.

Rebecca Averill said...

I just found your blog and love it. I have been LDS my entire life, but I have always lived in Colorado. I do have quite a bit of experience with Utah though, since I have family there. I am getting ready to move to Provo in a few days to start my freshman year at BYU, and I am so excited about moving out and starting college. However...I am absolutely dreading the Utah Mormon culture. BYU is a wonderful school, but I'm not sure how to handle all the utah quirks. Although I'm sure it won't be as drastic of a change for me as it was for you, I'm already anticipating the culture shock. I know it's going to take a while before I get used to Utah. For what it's worth, I would never forgive myself if the words "oh my heck" ever came out of my mouth. Also, I was shocked and a little upset about your stories of the rescheduling of the band concert and the incident with the counselor and the seminary class. I agree that this isn't how things should be.

As a minority Mormon, I am so aware of what it's like to feel judged or left out because of what I do/do not believe in. I think it's largely because of this that I am so glad to hear your perspective from the other side of the spectrum. Unfortunately, judging and discriminating are far too common among all groups of people. Often, I think, this is done automatically, unconsciously... I hate this so much. EVERYONE has the right to live and think however they choose, no matter what, and there should be no penalties from society for doing so. But, I think that it can be too easy for people to be caught up in their own small worlds, to avoid anything or anyone different from themselves, simply because it's easier than trying to reach a common ground and understand others. People don't like stepping out of comfort zones.

This is why I'm so glad I read your stories and thoughts about what it is like to be a minority among the Mormons. I know what it is like to be a minority myself, and so I want to be so careful to never ever make anyone else feel that they are being judged or shut out. Your stories have opened my mind a little and shown me that my automatic responses or what I might view as simple, inconsequential actions could make someone feel left out, looked down upon, shunned. Where I come from, (somewhat playfully) mocking Utah culture is all too common. But I never took the time before to consider what it must be like to live in the middle of this when you aren't a part of it. I hope that I will never be guilty of even unconsciously making someone who isn't LDS feel like the village idiot. It is so sad to me that our church's teachings are so focused on loving our neighbors, but when we are surrounded primarily by Mormons, we shut out and judge those who have different beliefs and/or lifestyles than we do. Most of my closest friends are not Mormons, and I love them to pieces. They are wonderful people. I can't imagine judging them because they don't know what a stake center is or why I won't smoke or why my brother is spending two years in Germany. They don't have the Mormon background I do, and of course there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. I don't have a problem with them partying or drinking coffee. It's their life and they can live it however they want to.... and I can still be their friend.

Anyway, sorry for rambling so much. (this turned into quite the novel) I really just wanted to say thank you for putting this out there for people like you and people like me to be able to understand each other a little better. I guess this has strengthened my resolve to not let the less-positive aspects of utah culture influence me, once I move out there. I hate being judged, so I hope that I will never find myself being judgmental in turn. I really do admire your spirit and character, and thank you for giving me this chance to gain a little more insight about myself and this crazy world of Utah that I am about to enter. =)

jill said...

Hi Rebecca. I am so happy you found my blog. BYU is a great school and I think they are lucky to have you as a future student. Hopefully, you can help YOur fellow students see that it is OK to be different. Good luck in the fall and make sure and let me know how you are doing!

Terry and Melissa Rees said...

Just stumbled upon your blog. I really feel bad for you! I'm totally Mormon and was born and raised in Utah and I feel like you sometimes. It can be quite stifling to live here. Just be glad you're not in Utah county!! Mormons really do mean well, but we do come across as weird. I lived in Arizona for 2 years and pretty much got bullied and teased because I am a Mormon. I guess it was like what you are going through now! Imagine my shock when I walked into a grocery store and they had a "wine and spirits" isle. I couldn't believe! You didn't have to go to the liquor store to buy booze! Very odd, but that's what I get for growing up in Utah. My husband is absolutely hating being back in Utah, even though he is a good little Mormon boy. I like it because our family is here, and I think people are generally more friendly in Utah. Or maybe people in Arizona are just jerks... Anyhoo, I added you to my blog list. Hope that's ok!

jill said...

Hi Melissa. Thanks for joining the discussion. I am so sorry anyone was mean to you in Arizona. Sadly, there are mean people everywhere. In California, no one seemed to care what religion you were, everyone did their own thing and that was OK. People in Utah are not purposely mean, jus very exclusive. I look forward to hearing more from you!