I'm a freshman. I am only 19 years old. I've been gone from my home now for 3 months. The only family I've seen since then is my sister's family in Spanish Fork, a month ago, and that was just for a few short days. I'm living off of scholarships and my parents at the moment, but next year, I will have to fend for myself financially. I came to college not knowing a soul, and I cut off almost all of my relationships with my friends from back home. I made a significant life change and I knew what I was getting into when I made the decision to come to Utah. There were more than plenty opportunities for a stellar education back home; I live in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, in the main line, right down the road from Philadelphia. Where I live, there's Bryn Mawr College, Haverford College, Villanova, St. Joseph's, West Chester University, Arcadia, Temple, Drexel, Penn, Curtis, and the list goes on for a while. Out here, there's Utah State, Weber State, U of U, BYU, SUU, and Dixie State. And that's in the entire state. I probably left some out, but, I honestly haven't heard of any others. And the schools I listed are all within a half hour distance from my house. There's Washington D.C. and the Atlantic Ocean and New York City. There's broadway and the philadelphia orchestra and delaware symphony and new york philharmonic. There's dozens of available flute teachers within my reach; there's beyond amazing opportunities where I lived in the east coast. The people are real, they don't hide who they are. The history is rich and the humidity keeps nature alive and color prevalent in my daily life.
I made a lot of sacrifices to be here now. Until today, I haven't looked back on my past at all. I was super stoked to make a new life for myself here, to blend in with the rest of the mormons and bounce off the walls with contentedness, living in the music building and thriving off of the perceived happiness people give off so often. I showed up and opened my heart to a hundred strangers and didn't think twice about some of the repercussions that come from letting strangers into your life. I was intensely myself and didn't conform and was really happy. I made friends quickly and kept everything running so smoothly. I ruminated on every little thing I did and said, before and after the fact, and kept myself in check, making sure I did and said everything just right. Making sure I was perfect.
Perfection is something that I've learned is really focused on here. People don't expect your mistakes, and when they're shown, there's a lot of disappointed feedback. I heard last week that there was study that showed that women take Prozac more in Utah than in any other state in America. Prozac is an anti-depressant. Aka, women in Utah are way depressed. That startled me! I had no idea that "happy valley" was being fed happiness artificially. It makes me sad to think that there's a major problem in Utah, and that the lifestyle I came to pursue is very flawed. The singles ward that I attend on Sundays only teaches a few things in the lessons given in all three meetings, and they are eternal marriage, dating, and chastity. They don't talk about anything else. They pressure the freshmen especially to look for an eternal companion and to get married. The whole system of a singles ward, their whole purpose, is to kick us out as soon as they can, into a family ward. You know what's so frustrating? Even though I filled out a paper with all my information and handed it in to my bishopric, even though they gave me a calling, they haven't registered me as a member in their system, and I still get emails from my home ward of Philadelphia. I have tried on many occasions to get them to put me in their system, but it's just not a priority!
I'm running through a lot of tangents right now, I know it. I just need to keep writing.
I love the gospel so much. I know that Jesus is my savior and He died for us. I know that the scriptures are powerful and that prayer is literally talking to God. God listens every time, and he's waiting for us to pray so he can get another chance to be there for us. I know that charity is above all the single most important thing we can practice in our lives, because charity is the pure love of Christ. I know that being modest is a clear way of expressing self respect and that the church's guidelines for modesty is a smart thing and keeps people safe. I know that being kind to others at all times is the best thing you can do for yourself, because that way you refrain from making enemies. I know that music is a connection to God and singing hymns gives us that extra connection. I know that prophets are legitimate and that Thomas S. Monson is a prophet, a seer, and revelator. I know that Joseph Smith restored the gospel, which is so significant, but also that he was an imperfect man that sparked a lot of adversary towards the church from the getgo. I know that My Redeemer lives. I will always have a testimony of the gospel.
Having said all that, I also know that my father doesn't believe, and neither do my siblings. And neither do the majority of my friends from back home. I've gone through my life attached to my LDS standards while living in a society and household that go against who I am and have always wanted to be. I really am grateful for having gone through that though, because it's made me more consistent, I think. I have spent so many years defending my position to my father and my family and my friends. I've questioned it enough and I know so deeply at this point, there's no way I would let myself give up my testimony. People don't affiliate me with immaturity too often I don't think, and it's because I've pushed myself to figure me out in high school. Everyone else fooled around, and I sure did my share of it too. But the last three semesters of high school I really grew up and found my path and grew determined to follow it. I wasn't living a double standard by having a lack of a foundation, I really wasn't. I made me my foundation, nobody else. I made God my foundation on my own. I read the book of mormon straight through in a month on my own, in April of 2009. I cried and cried and prayed on my own. I had terrible relationships with boys and girls alike, and it was mostly on my part, because I was so extremely selfish and I didn't take care of my friends at all. I only took care of myself. But I wanted to be that way, I wanted to grow up. I wanted to figure things out NOW. So that I could go to college and be comfortable with my path and be ready to make major decisions.
With a life filled with people going in a different direction than I, I've gotten used to not having a lot of support. I've gotten used to the feeling of general disrespect and the feeling that I'm weird and unvalued. I didn't take the time to develop relationships where others wanted to treat me well, but I couldn't imagine wanting to treat others that way. It was ridiculous to me. I set expectations for everyone, and I was pretty much always disappointed. I let myself get hurt and consequently a strong desire to distance myself from everything east coast. So now this is it, I'm in Logan. I'm taking a lot of classes and spending a lot of time practicing and running around and being with this lovely man whom I can't ever seem to want to part from. I've never, ever, thought I'd feel the way I do about him now. About any person. I have never wanted to give so much to one person before. I was so selfish. And now, my priorities are completely changed, because he's the most important thing happening in my life. Everywhere I go, I try to be happy and to put on a happy face. But with him, I don't have to try. I feel more than happy, I feel joy. He is intelligent and motivated and compassionate and hard working and adorable. He loves his mother, his father, his sisters. His wants and goals are parallel to mine and it makes me cry with amazed realization that these couple years where I've prepped myself for college and made myself grow up, was for this reason. Was for Ben. I shouldn't speak too soon or make any serious remarks like I probably have. I'm going to be very cautious and gentle and patient, and I refuse to make any serious decisions with him suddenly or irrationally. I never have a desire to fight with him or see him in discontent, and that's kind of unique with me and loved ones. Like the rest of the things in my life, I don't have a lot of support with this decision to be with him. Other people don't matter though, it's not about anyone else. It's about relying on God and having the faith to keep moving forward. I'm very scared, but I know that this is right. It's not a "right now" situation. I truly believe this is right.
Utah. Utah State University. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Aggie Marching Band. Valley View Tower. Class of 2014. That is how I define myself, and how you can now define me. I'm a freshman. I'm only 19 years old. I've been gone from my home now for 3 months.