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Are We Not All Teenagers?

Right now in my ward I get to work with the Young Women. I ?ve grown to love it, though I didn ?t at first. What I dreaded the most was all the drama. I think the hardest part of being a teen is figuring out who you are, and then how that relates to the people around you. For the most part, though, the girls in our ward get along pretty well and are inclusive toward each other. Of course they ?re still learning about those tricky interpersonal relationships, but I expect that.

The most surprising thing I ?ve found is the drama that goes on among the women. I ?m not just talking about the young women leaders; I ?m talking about our whole ward. I had no idea.

I ?ve spent the better part of my adult life trying to avoid the drama that goes on between females. Which is why I ?m actually startled by the number of women who have come to talk to me in the past 12 months or so. They want to tell me how isolated they feel. They tell me they ?ve never really been able to make a good friend and carry that friendship. They think that people are gossiping about them. And every one of them thinks that this disconnected feeling is unique to them.

I ?m not sure why they are telling me these things. My last calling was in the Relief Society presidency. That would have been much more logical. Maybe I ?ve developed That Look over the past year. The Look that says Hey, how could I judge you when I have mascara under my eyes and my dress is tucked into my pantyhose? ? But I digress.

Are these women really the exceptions they think they are? Or is this feeling more the norm?

I guess we never really grow up. No matter how old we get, we ?re all perpetually 14 years old inside. We all need someone to remind us that we are daughters of our Heavenly Father who loves us. We all need someone to sit by at church, we need someone to share our successes and fears with, and we need to be needed. I think we all need President Hinckley ?s three keys for new members; a friend, a calling, and nourishment in the good word of God.

All this time I thought it was just me. Do you feel disconnected, too? And why is that?

{ 17 comments… add one }
  • kiar August 28, 2007, 11:36 am

    I think deep down, we are all so insecure, and those of us who say they aren’t are lying!!! I have felt the same way, and have tried to overcome it. I think it has a lot to do with the ward you are in. In my last ward, it was really hard to fit in, and the ward prior to that was a nightmare (no one even knew I was pregnant with our third child until I brought him to church!! or that we moved away. they just assumed we had gone inactive) But there is a bright light! the ward I am in now, while it stillhas its cliques and gossipy individuals, has been so amazing, and the stake relief society pres even came to welcome me into the ward. when we moved here, we had actually planned on slipping off the radar,and not going to church (bad attitude, I know) but we were dragged kicking and screaming backinto the fold. and now we couldn’t be happier. we have great friends and everyone says hello when we get to church! And its not he fake “hi, how are you” and run the other way, its genuine and hearfelt. people actually care

  • Alison Moore Smith August 28, 2007, 2:36 pm

    At the risk of being called a liar (!!!) :surprised: πŸ˜‰ I really don’t feel insecure very often anymore. I have never lived in a perfect ward as an adult, but I’ve always been able to get to the point where I felt welcomed and good. In fact, if someone doesn’t like me in person, I sometimes take it as a challenge. Not in all situations, but particularly at church which is a more permanent setting than most.

    That probably has more to do with the fact that I endured about a lifetime’s worth of insecurity between ages five and 18. In One day during my freshman year in college, I just decided that I’d had it with the insecurities. I was sincerely just exhausted by it. So, I gave it up. Talk about freedom.

    Anyway, I hate to take complete, total credit for all that is right with the world (really, I do!) but isn’t Randi Harris a jewel??? What a stroke of genius that I found her to write for us all! πŸ™‚

  • JustRandi August 28, 2007, 2:47 pm

    Sheesh Alison! What a nice thing to say! Thank-you.
    Kiar -You are SO lucky to have such a great ward! It’s definitely the way things are supposed to be.

    Do you think it’s possible that our LDS culture actually pushes us apart in some ways? I mean, as good LDS women, we are supposed to be very very busy all the time. At least from where I sit, socializing just for it’s own sake is sort of looked down on. You’re supposed to be really, too busy for that. You know – anxiously engaged and all. If you’re socializing, you should at least be doing a service project, or inviting a non-member as missionary work – which doesn’t really foster closeness and friendship, you know? Maybe that’s another whole topic, but I think it’s related.

  • agardner August 28, 2007, 4:28 pm

    You raise some great questions – do all women feel like this? I think a very many do, unfortunately, at least at some point in their lives. And really, I don’t ever, ever want to relive those teenage years! But sometimes it does feel that way. Wards can unfortunately have that same “high school-ish” culture about them.

    I’m kind of the same as Alison in the sense that I just decided I wasn’t going to play the game. I do try to make friends in the wards I’ve lived in, and have made some very close friends that way. But I also try to be friendly to everyone, knowing that there are plenty out there who are not feeling like they fit in. I’ve been there, so I get it.

    My last ward was a real struggle for me. I won’t go into too many details but in a nutshell – we moved into a ward that my mom was raised in (into a new home on the property she grew up on). Everyone knew me (or more specifically, my mom) and welcomed me right off the bat. These were people who had taught my mom in Primary, struggled through the teenage years with her, and saw her successfully into adulthood (she was not from an active family, so this was quite a feat – and it was largely due to those very same people that she is active today). Anyway, great, great people. There was one lady who taught my mom in Primary who would come up to me nearly every Sunday and give me a hug and say, “I just have to hug you because you look so much like your mom”.

    Then the population boom happened (we lived near the Mt. Timpanogos Temple, if that’s any indication – what was once farmland and my mom’s little Manila ward is now 4-5 stakes!). Most of the growth was people vastly different from me (think big houses, weaved hair, fancy vacations, and everyone driving the same pewter suburban-well, not the same one but you know what I mean), and it was hard, and I felt like an outsider. Our ward split (several times), and most of the good old folks that had been around forever were in other wards (even other stakes) suddenly.

    I was called to be Primary president, which kind of isolated me even more (what, Primary isolating??? lol). But I did call a counselor who really saved me and became my best friend (thank heavens for inspiration – I didn’t know the woman from Eve when I felt inspired to submit her name, and it was the best thing I ever did). I made attempts to be friends with other women, but was kind of always on the outside (literally and figuratively – I lived on a street that was not part of the “neighborhood” which was most of the ward – across the street from me one way was another ward, and across the street the other way was another stake). Anyway, I finally just had to decide that I was just going to try to get to know people and be as friendly as possible, and if they didn’t like me it was their problem. I ended up making a lot of friends. Not necessarily life-long, best-buddy friends, but at least people that I enjoyed being with and felt supported around. We moved a little more than a year ago and I have to say that in hindsight it was by far the hardest ward I’ve ever been in, but it did teach me a lot about myself as well. More than anything, it taught me that I go to church because I love the gospel and the Savior – because I certainly wasn’t there for the social aspect!

    My current ward is so different – we come in all different shapes, sizes, and colors. Our ward is huge geographically (covers 5 high-school boundary areas) and we really have to make an effort to get together. I like it that way. I don’t see many of the cliques happening like I have in other wards. At times it feels isolating to be the only one in the neighborhood who is LDS (our nearest LDS neighbors are about 1 mile away), but it does create a certain bond with other LDS folks when you do get to see them.

  • Alison Moore Smith August 28, 2007, 5:51 pm

    Posted By: JustRandiAt least from where I sit, socializing just for it’s own sake is sort of looked down on.

    Oh! I’m on an email list for RS presidents past and present. Just last month one woman sent in a question about an enrichment activity being planned. In a nutshell she said that some wanted to have an evening when they got together to have dinner and socialize. The president posted to the list to ask for advice. She was worried about that for two reasons: (1) If they were going away from their families they should be doing something gospel-centered, not just talking and (2) She thought it would just turn into a gossip/husband-bashing fest.

    Wah! πŸ˜₯

  • mlinford August 28, 2007, 6:19 pm

    Fellowshipping and gathering together is gospel-centered, if you ask me. We don’t get enough time to really connect on Sundays, imo.

  • mlinford August 28, 2007, 6:19 pm

    btw, I just started the Rasband anti-self-esteem book. Has that been a book club book? It otta be. If we really really learn how to turn to the Lord (not that I have that figured out at all) then we really should be at a place where we feel ‘confidence wax[ing] strong.’ It’s too easy, though, to look to externalities to define our worth.

  • Rebecca August 28, 2007, 6:26 pm

    A couple of weeks ago my ward had a little ‘late night’ at one of the sister’s homes for a Relief Society Activity. Someone brought a quilt to tie for the Humanitarian Center, there was food, games, and socializing. The quilt got tied really quickly so that left games (I am not a game person) or socializing. I was going to leave at that point because I am not the most social person but some of the sisters dragged me into one of the games and it turned out to be so much fun. It was more like a Young Women’s activity (minus the teenage angst) and as I was talking to a few of the women Sunday we were all talking about how fun it was to be ourselves for a few hours…meaning that it was if we were free from any of the other worries that we usually carry around with us and we were just girls again having a fun time. I don’t think I even heard anyone talk about children, husbands, or work. I definitely saw different sides to people that I hadn’t seen before. It was cathartic in a way…I think that sometimes we forget that it is OK for us to have fun and relax for a little while and forget about some of those pressing cares.

  • facethemusic August 28, 2007, 6:38 pm

    1) If they were going away from their families they should be doing something gospel-centered

    Yikes! May I say I’m grateful to NOT have ever had a Relief Society president who felt this way??

    I had a similar experience when we first moved into our current ward — (which actually, has changed names, buildings, and boundaries several times since we’ve been here). We’d been here for a few years and I felt like we fit in very well. I liked everyone and felt like they all liked me. But then I heard little side conversations at church– sisters were getting together so they could socialize and the kids could play. Couples were inviting other couples and their families over to dinner. They were having joint FHE’s, etc. It didn’t take too long before I started wondering why no one was asking US to join them. I pouted about it for a few weeks– especially when I’d hear people dicussing their play day at the park, or how good dinner was the other night, etc, etc. Then one day I figured, well, if no one is going to invite US, we’ll invite THEM.
    So we started inviting people over for dinner. Then I started a playgroup. The playgroup was especially succesful– though it faded out after awhile. And we’ve had great evenings together with other couples from the ward. We’ve probably had most of the active members over at one time or another. (Some even several times)
    The funny thing is– we’ve been here 12 years now, and we’ve STILL only been invited over to 3 other family’s homes, even though we’ve probably had half of the ward over to ours. I think part of it IS the ‘busy’ factor that Randi brought up. I also think that having people over is something that many people just don’t do anymore.
    But also, I’ve come to realize that people really DO have people they “click” with , and I don’t mean that in the negative, as in forming “cliques”. What’s funny, is that it seems to me that sometimes, even though I’VE felt like my husband and I “clicked” with another couple, that they didn’t seem to share the feeling. I could totally be wrong on that– but it did *seem* that way to me.
    One of the things I noticed is that often, though not always, the couples that “click” have husbands that share the same occupation or major in school. We have a chiropractic college here, and I swear, it seems like half the men in our ward are students there. Well, those couples all hang out together. The sisters in our ward whose husbands are med students also hang out together. The law students… same thing. The music majors… yup.
    Often, it has to do with callings as well. I felt like the sister who served as the YW president in our ward was someone I “clicked” with. I served as her 2nd counselor, and when we were together we’d laugh up a storm. I watched her kids a few times, she watched mine. We chatted on the phone regularly– and not just about our callings. But then, our presidency was released and we had different callings. She kept saying she was going to have us over for dinner, that we should get together, but we never did. I hardly ever saw her, and we never talked on the phone anymore. In fact, when they moved just recently, I didn’t even know that they were already gone.
    So even though I can honestly say that I live in the most friendly ward I’ve ever been in, (though I’ve never really been in an “unfriendly” ward) and even though I feel like everyone likes us (or if there are people who don’t, they don’t let it show), and even though I know I could count on just about anyone in the ward for anything if a need arose, and even though I’d say they were all friends, there’s STILL only one family and 1 individual that I would actually call “good, close friends” in our ward. I think that’s probably pretty normal, don’t you think?

  • kiar August 28, 2007, 7:32 pm

    ok sorry not everyone is a liar! lol. i am glad that there are people out there that have self esteem! I think that wards are a hard thing to deal with sometimes, sine there are so many cliques… but it is true that many people click with those of similar interests. My friend says that our group needs to have shirts made that say “Friends By Default” since we are the young families in the ward that all end up hanging out together.

  • east-of-eden August 29, 2007, 7:57 am

    This has been an interesting read, I waited to comment to see what you all (or could that be y’all) would say.

    I was thinking about this the other day, then the lovely Randi wrote about it. I have always struggeled to “feel” like I fit in. I think there have only been two times in my adult life that I’ve felt like I was part of the crowd–at BYU then at ASU, both student wards, and both time because I’ve connected with particular people.

    As to Randi’s query, I do think busyness has do with it sometimes. People are busy, and then they get home and they are tired. I know when I was working, I had enough nice in me at the end of the day for my husband, no more, no less. And you know that little song on Sesame Street, “One of these kids is not like the other…” I’ve always been the kid with the hula-hoop when every one else is bouncing a ball.

    Here in our ward, we’ve never “felt part of the crowd” for a few reasons. My husband is not “one of the guys”. He does not enjoy sports, and has always been on the shy side. For me, I’ve always had good friends, who by chance or circumstance (I’m not sure which) have become really close and good, because we’ve shared common experiences. I have not really found those people here–a few but not many. Someone also mentioned friends by default. Most of the people our age have young families. As we’ve gone thru pregnancy loss, and infertiltiy we’ve not been interesting in socializing with people who only seem to talk about their children. I realize that we might be in this place one day, but for now, we don’t like “baby-dust” in the air too much. We don’t want to be the party poopers, so we opt out.

    This summer, my three very good friends from our ward moved away, and it’s been very hard. I”ve found myself still in recovery mode from that, but also not feeling really up to going out and working on new deep friendships. I don’t know if I’m just giving myself space and time to adjust, or if I’m just not ready to start all over again.

  • JustRandi August 29, 2007, 10:43 am

    It’s an interesting discussion, isn’t it? I’ve lived in my ward for 15 years, and while I’m comfortable going in to almost any meeting and sitting by pretty much anybody – when it comes to socializing or really feeling included, I have more trouble. When my kids were younger, my best strategy was to call a few moms and ask them to the playground. It was perfect.
    But now that I don’t have that easy, convenient excuse, I have much more trouble initiating things. Everyone just seems SO busy, and then I don’t want to admit that I’m not all that busy – or for heaven’s sakes why am I not making my weekly bread? Listen, I’m much too busy to make bread every week. I mean, when would I blog and everything?

    I like Tracy’s idea of just sort of sucking it up and inviting people over for dinner, or even just dessert on a Sunday night. I’d probably we willing to give up some blogging time for that.

  • Alison Moore Smith August 29, 2007, 10:48 am

    No, Randi, sorry. You’ll have to give up something else. We need you. πŸ™‚

  • facethemusic August 29, 2007, 12:54 pm

    She can invite US over for dinner, Alison!!!
    So what are we having tonight, Randi??

  • JustRandi August 29, 2007, 3:03 pm

    You’re ALL invited, and we’re having whatever you’re bringing!

  • east-of-eden August 29, 2007, 4:56 pm

    Great, that means from me you will get, leftover beans with one tortilla, an egg and some jello. (Can’t you tell tomorrow is pay day??)

  • Alison Moore Smith August 28, 2007, 11:33 pm

    Posted By: mlinfordFellowshipping and gathering together is gospel-centered, if you ask me.

    A big amen to that, Michelle. That was my response to her!

    Posted By: mlinfordI just started the Rasband anti-self-esteem book. Has that been a book club book?

    Yea, verily, we did! (Great minds think alike, eh?)

    Posted By: RebeccaI was going to leave at that point because I am not the most social person but some of the sisters dragged me into one of the games and it turned out to be so much fun.

    Don’t you listen to Rebecca now. She’s just as sociable as any of us. Well, OK, she listens really well when I rattle on and on and on…but, hey, that’s part of socializing! (The most noble part as well.)

    Rebecca, I am GLAD that someone dragged you in. You know I would have done that. And you see what you learned?!! πŸ˜‰

    Yes, Tracy, great points. I’d say it is.

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