How do Non-Mormons even RELATE to each other?
Today, I was having a minor personal crisis. I was wondering…if I had to explain a bit about myself, how would I do it?
I actually know my answer to that question. If I had to explain some things about myself, then I would pick from a small pool of topics, depending on whether the situation were sensitive or not sensitive. In a non-sensitive situation, then I would mention how I was raised Mormon. I’d probably mention not believing in it now.
The problem is that many situations are sensitive, however. Work, for example. Or when you just meet someone and don’t want to totally weird them out.
In sensitive situations, I have….fencing. And that’s about it.
As I was thinking, I realized something that many Mormons probably take for granted, and something that I’ve seen many ex-, post-, and former Mormons regret: Mormons have ready-made topics for discussion. Wards, callings, families, and so on. For ex-Mormons this is frustrating because every conversation has the potential of turning to these things when there is a lull, and not being able to keep up the beat (e.g., you don’t have a calling because you are not active in the church…), and at times, it can seem as if the church is a conversational crutch.
Well, I don’t know, but I sure would love to keep that crutch…
I don’t know how regular folks are supposed to relate to each other. What do we talk about? I mean…small talk. Chit-chat. Now, part of this may be just because I’m horrifically socially awkward and haven’t properly studied up on how normal people communicate, BUT still, I have these questions.
I get that normal people talk about things like sports…but that’s the thing…other than fencing, I’m not really a fan of sports. And I mean, I would love to tell people loads of stuff about fencing (or about my history with the church)…but even I can recognize that most of what I would have to say would be the infodump necessary to bring them up to speed on a topic about which they probably don’t care.
I get that normal folks do things like go to bars, talk about “stuff” over a few drinks…but that’s another thing…I’m not a fan of drinking. And it’s not even just a Mormon thing there…it’s because I get the sense, more and more, that alcoholic beverages either 1) taste disgusting or 2) are chick drinks. (And I think that is telling…that there exists an awareness that for something to taste sweet makes it…for women. I mean…is this AskMen post for real?) And you know, maybe I should just be socially awkward enough to realize that there’s no shame in drinking “chick drinks” (or that whatever shame that does exist doesn’t matter), but…eh. I feel the entire notion of “acquired tastes” is suspect.
Anyway, back to the topic at hand…when I was younger, I sometimes would say to myself that I would never date LDS girls. (I did not mention to anyone which part of the phrase “LDS girls” I was eschewing.) And I still feel that way. I feel the same way about BYU — when I was looking at universities, different people from my ward would say, “Oh, so are you looking at BYU?” and I wouldn’t tell them that I would never go to BYU, but…it’s very low on my list of schools to attend. (And that says something, considering that the school I did attend isn’t exactly a liberal bastion of progressiveness and acceptance.) I feel that I dodged several bullets by “disaffecting” before a) deciding to go to BYU because it’s “the Lord’s university”, b) deciding to go on a mission, and c) marrying. I just feel that there’s a lot of heartache involved with disaffecting (or being gay, mind you) in the middle of any of these three life events.
Nevertheless, I can’t help but feel that the church makes these things relatively easy — if you’re lucky enough for the program to work for you without problem. Go on mission. Go to BYU. Shake and stir in a BYU student ward. ??? Profit.
Without this life plan set out in front of them…without this scaffolding…how do non-Mormons even do it?
…all of this having been said, I still think it’s important to note that all the awkwardness can’t be placed on being basically a Mormon (even if a non-believing one) in a non-Mormon environment. Perhaps more of my problem is the aforementioned social awkwardness, that I only appear to have well under wraps through great preparation and meditation before I attend certain events. I mean, at some level, I would consider myself an introverted person who works to present as more outgoing and affable than I am. I am perfectly content to come home from work and just read for the rest of the evening (if I’m not going out to fence.)
I like going to places with which I am already familiar. I am ridiculously habitual. Let me tell you a few stories: whenever I get a new album of music, I listen to it exclusively until I get a new album. And then I never listen to that older album, unless I’m on long car rides and want to mix things up. Another story: for lunch at work, I go to the same place and get the same food every day — although like with music albums, I try to shuffle, and then go to a different place and get something there for a long period of time. So, in the food court I attend, the workers at Subway, Quizno’s, Great American Cookie (which I’ve had to stop going every day, because I know that a double doozie every day can’t be healthy for ANYONE), Roman Delight Pizza, and Murphy’s Deli know exactly what few items I will be rotating to get from them when I decide to stop by.
Even when I’m at different or new restaurants, I have “safe” foods…if cheesecake is a dessert, I’ll get it. If quesadillas are on the menu, I’ll get those…unless there’s fettuccine alfredo, in which case I’ll get that.
…and you know what? I don’t want to change that. But because I don’t want to change, I understand that means that I won’t be proactive in going out into new places. I’m basically just hoping to stumble upon something different, even though I know that’s unrealistic.