Until packing up and moving across the country when Cody graduated I had lived in the same five mile radius my entire life. What this means is that almost every memory, both good and bad, happened in this five mile radius. The same five mile radius in which I am currently staying. Cody asked my dad if he could marry me in this house. But I have also broke up with boyfriends in this house. I have had birthday parties here, I have passed out drunk in a backyard a few blocks away, I used to babysit the now tall and gangly teenagers that live across the street. I had my baby a few blocks away from the mall where I bought my first pair of heels. I spent nights in the hospital due to depression steps away from where I had my first kiss.

There are a lot of memories here.

And a lot of them hurt.

High school didn’t go so well for me. While the LDS religion is not (NOT, I promise) the majority, it is prevailent. And Utah has always had a feeling of  “us against them” regardless of which side you are on. (And I’ve been on both.) And rarely does either side see this the way I have been able to see it.

I was a wild child, that is obvious. My fellow wild buddies and I would swear off the goody goody Mormons, we stuck together in all our rebelliousness. Avoided their gathering places, avoided the things they liked to do. But I was always secretly envious, they had such a good time together, all without alcohol or drugs. But I was only invited once, and I was treated like an outsider the whole time.

Flash forward to to now. I have a dear friend who has been with me for what feels like forever. She has always lived in the “right” neighborhood and had the “right” friends. Her parents knew the “right” people and she did all the “right” things. GAH, how envious I was of her and that she had been born into the Utah “club”. She was going to grow up and follow in her parents footsteps, her kids would be another generation of the “cool” kids. They would never have to worry about unpopularity, vicious rumours or clawing their way to the top.

Or so it seemed.

Today at the park by her house in the neighborhood I wished I had always lived in we watched the next generation of the “cool” kids. (with their Biblical names, might I add) They were going to be “cool” by birthright, “cool” because of where their parents chose to buy their house. I told her that one of the reasons I didn’t want to come back to Utah is because we would be classified, stamped and sorted as soon as we crossed city limits.

“LDS. Lawyer. White. Children.” YOU. GO. HERE.

And “here” is not where I want to be. It’s hard to break a Utah mold. Very few people have done it. If any. And compared to most of the other women I would be “sorted” with, I would be considered “not Mormon enough.” Anyone who has never lived in Utah is confused at this point, but I swear to you it’s true. This state feels like one big competition. And I don’t want to play.

After I told her this I was worried that she would be disappointed in my opinion. She loves Utah.

But then she told me she had the same feeling of inadequacy. That she will never be “Mormon enough” to fit the mold that she has been given. It was a weight off my shoulders. One little confession from someone I’ve looked up to and always considered such a perfect example of an LDS member for as long as I can remember.

Utah is beautiful. Painfully beautiful in fact. Salt Lake is an amazing city, it is run well and is very well taken care of. But there’s so many people running around trying to shove the rest of us into our place while keeping themselves in bigger, newer, shinier, tighter, more expensive places than their neighbor that they’re kind of a buzz-kill to the natural beauty of this area.

I understand we get comfortable with whom we associate with the most.

But is it normal where you live to get so comfortable that everyone else feels left out?

Comments

  1. Oh I’m a bid advocate to moving away from the familiar. I moved from Massachusetts and then finally to England. It’s changed me and I can sooo much relate to what you’ve said. Good for you for not wanting to play the game. It takes too much energy and at the end of the day it doesn’t matter. What matters is your family and as long as you’re happy with yourself, your family and the things you have done in life you’ll be good. Anyhoo I could go on an on… I feel really strongly about this subject.

  2. darn typos
    BIG advocate
    moved from Mass to SC then to England

  3. Wow, your home sounds like the Mormon version of my Catholic town! It is exactly the same here and I “TRIED” to be Catholic enough, but now I just don’t want to play…and I’m a convert too so I’m an outsider before I even go through all the motions of being an insider…but never am…and now, don’t want to be. If you don’t homebirth, homeschool, and live this pristeen Catholic lifstyle your out of the game and everyone wants to push you into a Catholic “Mold”…I love this beautiful place too..Shenandoah Valley…but hate being labeled by my fellow Catholics. Why is it, religious people can be the worst at treating each other well??
    Okay, sorry for that ramble, but I SO related to what you just wrote!

  4. We are feeling the very same feeling right now living in Orem. I do want to qualify and say we never felt that way when we lived in Springville so maybe it just gets progressively worse the closer you live to the center of the universe. But the ward we are in now, we have been given very strong impressions–if you aren’t related to someone who bought their house from Lavelle Edwards’ father (who built all the houses in this area), then could you please move so that one of our grandkids could live there?! We have lived here for 18 months and have had it announced in church 3 times that we are moving-without us even thinking it. At the very least it is not very welcoming to the outsiders. I miss normal church people. I am tired of trying to compete all the time!!

  5. Having lived in Utah for 7 years (and spending 3 of those TRYING TO GET OUT) I know what you mean. Right now I live in a fairly “mixed” area and haven’t noticed too much of the “moldiness” – but maybe because that’s cause I stick to myself…hmm. Something for me to think about.

  6. So you miss Indiana already?

    You are welcome here. You can tell by the way we look and how we live that we don’t pigeonhole anyone.

    Except in Carmel, where I don’t fit in.

  7. I’m confused. If you are LDS now then don’t the Utah LDS accept you? But then it shouldn’t matter because you are you and that is pretty cool! BTW my best girlfriend of 28 years lives in Sandy. Hi Shelly.

  8. I’m sitting here trying to think of a great response. It’s not happening.

    I think that you vocalized it really well, even though I have never been to Utah.

    There are communities, cities, and apparently even entire states that can get caught up in appearances.

    The appearances are not real. But they can do real damage.

    It happens everywhere, unfortunately. Even in churches.

    I just pray that I don’t get that way. Or that I am not already that way.

  9. I feel like this where ever I am in life. I can only imagine what it must feel like when you have good reason to feel this way.

    This is what bothers me about SLC. I want so badly to move there and possibly raise a family there one day. I love the natural beauty, the city itself, and the history..even if I’m not Mormon. I still appreciate the history and the culture. My husband is nervous that the environment will be too “us against them” for children. We aren’t so worried about us as a couple… just about future kids, should we end up with some or not.

    The good news is, there are worse places to grow up. “Us against them” is everywhere.. with all different types of people.

  10. I think you would be surprised at how many people don’t feel they are “Cutting it”. Even the judging, cookie cutter types. Especially them, actually.

    People often say how difficult it is to “Break in” to the social circles in Utah. It is because there is a ton of comfy complacency. People have ready made friends in their wards, many have grown up in the area that they live in, etc.

    I moved from the SLC area up to Cache Valley. It’s smaller so it is a lot more “Moldy” than Salt Lake. Everyone is in your business. I think that it would have been better to be a Mormon outside of the state than here. Activity would be mainly out of desire instead of knowing that everyone will notice and talk if you don’t show up.

    After my son died, and for many other reasons, my husband and I stopped attending church. I’m not a hater, I have not one bad thing to say about Mormonism and I don’t close off the possibility of going back.. It is just too much for now.

    Going over that line sucked. Everyone is in your business and I walked around feeling watched, judged and like people looked at me with a cup of Starbucks and thought “WRONGDOER!”

    Yah, there are people like that here. There are also people like that everywhere that a religion is dominant.

    It’s been three years and I’ve mellowed out. I have actually found many “UnMoldy” friends that I love dearly.

    Frankly, I would love to see you move here. The state needs that kind of mind set. The more the merrier, I say.

    (Didn’t mean to go all, “War and Peace” length on ya. Sorry!)

  11. Liam Craig says:

    i feel like you do in utah, about where we are right now! thats exactly how I feel. but with her its more like the people in dentistry are the cool ppl and no one else is, not so much the religion but the program your husband is in!

  12. But is it normal where you live to get so comfortable that everyone else feels left out?

    Good question.

  13. I live within five miles of where I grew up… in a mormon community much like your own (further north… idaho), and it’s no different. I don’t fit the mold, I don’t want to fit the mold.

  14. I think everything we experience is like high school reinvented. I was in the ‘cool’ group in high school – and it was terrible. I hated it. I would never go back to that for all the money in the world. Who ever feels like they belong? I think when people say they feel like they belong, they’re lying (at least – that’s what I tell myself).

  15. I recently moved to a new state and away from ‘those 5 miles’. It is not the first time I have left but it is the first time I have known that it was for good. I wonder how much of the outsider feeling comes from knowing that you have moved on from what ‘used to be’.

  16. Hi, I found your blog a bit ago and have enjoyed reading it.Today’s post brought back memories of high school, which I spent in good ol’ Orem, UT so I figured I could de-lurk for one comment.

    We moved around alot when I was a kid so landing in Orem when I was 12 was hard, especially since I didn’t fit their molds. By the time high school came around I had learned that I would never fit in any of their molds, neither the goody goody nor the rebel. I landed somewhere in between and resigned myself to that.
    But it wasn’t until I moved out to the east coast 2 years ago, that I realized I had not only become resigned to it, but had begun to define myself by it. When I was stopped being defined as ‘outside the mold’ I had to learn who I was for the first time. Not who everyone in my ward decided I was. Now I dread my visits home, when no matter how I have changed, I am still not in the prescribed mold that I feel I should fit into. I sometimes feel the judgment is more in my head then in reality. Then I actually visit. Lol! Good luck with your visit home.

    Rae

  17. Oh gosh. I’m a military brat. I’ve lived in places where I was definitely considered an outsider and in communities where everyone was a nomad like me. I preferred the nomads growing up, but I don’t want my children to be nomads. I want them to grow up in one place in one home in the hopes that they won’t feel like outsiders. It’s sad to hear that it happens everywhere. Whether it’s religion or money or education, it seems that we humans have cliques hardwired into our brains. Sigh.

  18. I know what you say is true but I guess I didn’t really notice it in the eight years I lived there. Probably because I landed right in the heart of Provo, my life saturated in BYU, met my husband there even, and continued on in that same world. I was probably part of the goodygoody crowd, but didn’t notice it because as far as I could tell, EVERYBODY was in that crowd.

    Then again, I guess it would be a little different at BYU than in high school.

  19. This all makes sense. I think we’ve all felt that. Those of us who have never lived in Utah often find it … cloying (for lack of a better word). You tend to get the feeling that the LDS religion is seeped into their bones on back to the Mormon handcart companies. Meanwhile, my own family’s conversion takes place with my own grandparents and mother. You always have this feeling of not measuring up; of feeling completely and totally inadequate.

    I’d venture a strong guess that many people feel that way if they live anywhere where there is a strong influence of culture or religion. Part of humanity, I guess. But once you’re aware of, I guess the thing to do is look around and see how we do it ourselves and change it for those that might feel that way around us.

  20. Yup. Exactly. I am an air force wife, and I have moved quite a bit but I have never felt culture shock the way I did when I moved to Utah. Mormons are weird. I can say that because I am one. Utah Mormons are a whole different breed.

  21. Never been to Utah but I know the feeling of a hometown and being “outsiders”. Sucks.

    (((HUGS))) to you missin’ your hubs too :( It sucks, but the days will fly eventually, I promise. Then you’ll be write back in the great state of Indy (hehe) and your husband will be gratin’ nerves at some point :)

  22. Wow, great post. I love the honesty of it. You’ll do ok, little friend. It takes people feeling like outsiders and deciding to do something about it to BREAK the mold… to make the next round of outsiders feel welcome. I don’t know if that last sentence made any sense… probably not. But I DO believe that through discomfort can come greater self-awareness and growth. Best of luck to you! Hang in there… you’ve always got us internet pals! :)

  23. Hey!!! Your last email to me went to my spam folder and I didn’t get to read it! I wanna hang out and have the day off tomorrow! :)

  24. I know people will be offended when I say this, but I hate Utah. I’ve always hated it. My parents expected me to go to school there and I refused. At a very young age while visiting cousins I could sense what went on there. Like you just pointed out. The only thing that saved me from going crazy rebel in highschool was that I WAS DIFFERENT. I was one out of maybe 9 in my highschool. I had very few “practicing” friends. And I enjoyed being the weird Mormon. Anyway, don’t let them drag you down. And I understand the sadness in missing your husband. I was away from mine for 28 days this summer. It sucked more than I thought it could.
    Good Luck.

  25. Im the opposite in that I was raised LDS but Im no longer practicing and stopped while I was in Utah. Both sides seem to expect a lot. Your either with us or against us type mentality. Many people expect me to be a raving anti-mormon lunatic and never stick up for “them” because I left. I often wondered if other people felt that same way – I just want to be me and could care less what you do as long as your fair and loving. Thats really all that matters.

  26. I grew up in Utah County and now live very far away. There’s a reason.

    I just had to delete an entire paragraph on “Utah sucks” etc.

    And in high school, my friend and I called those people the “moldys”. I love that you use the same phrase. AWESOME.

    Good luck kicking Utah’s ass.

  27. Oh my! You nailed Utah right on the head with that post. I moved to Utah in 7th grade thanks to the Air Force. We lived in Layton and ended up staying through high school and then I went on to Utah State. We are NOT mormon and it was very very difficult spending those years there. My sister ended up converting for her husband though.

    I moved after I divorced and my daughter was tiny, only 4 months old. I did not want her to grow up there. Mormon or not, the vainess, the competition, the fake niceyness of a lot of people there, I just couldn’t let her grow up there. We now live in Texas. I have tried to describe it to others and you just can’t. Well, actually, you can, you did a great job!

    Utah mormons and out of state mormons are completely different. As I’m sure you have seen. And I love mormons like you, that have been there and done that lived their lives, maybe not to the best, but you’ve learned from it, can better relate to others, and don’t act holier than thou. Good for you! Actually any religion where someone has those life experiences helps so much.

  28. I just found your blog over on mormonmommyblogs. How have I not found you before now?? Your style is wonderful!

    I have spent the better part of an hour reading you… and thinking “Man! This could SO be me!” I grew up in Utah too, and couldn’t leave fast enough. I was in Chicago for 10 years, while my husband was in Law school. I so did not want to move back to Utah for all the reasons you listed. LDS.Lawyer.White.Kids. Check. My husband pretty much brought me back here kicking and screaming.
    I don’t fit the “utah mormon mold” nor do I want to. I hate the competition, the needing to look just right, dress just right… drive the right car. It’s ridiculous and its very hard.

    Your blog is fantastic. So many similar situations, feelings, depression etc… It’s like we were twins separated at birth.

    What a lucky find on my part to have found your blog!
    And, I would have 100% been out dancing and shakin’ ma thang with you at Blogher (jealous!)– You are an inspiration!

  29. Holy cow! I TOTALLY relate. I grew up in CA, but moved to Utah several years after we married basically to get away from my family (long story). Since my husband grew up in Provo, it made sense to go to Utah. However, I couldn’t stand the feeling there. We ended up moving to Park City for a few years because at least it wasn’t so mormon-y, more like CA. We loved it there, however there was a lot of tension between members and non-members in that town. Those that weren’t in the church generally hated those that were and didn’t want us invading the one town they had to themselves and the church members spent a lot of time trying to convince them of how cool we are and not like the other “Utah mormons”.

    Moving to New England was the best thing we did. I’m in LOVE with the church here. It’s such a non-judgmental atmosphere and the ward is like a true family. People here understand that not everyone has the ideal mormon life and accepts everyone’s circumstances.

    Alysons last blog post..Nearly 5’3" and Growing

  30. My sentiments exactly.

    Emily the Utah transplant from the Midwests last blog post..Gadget Lust