I grew up in a generally large city in the state of Utah; Utah as most people know is made up of the LDS religion. Growing up as a non-LDS member in Utah was really hard for me. I remember being teased and called names like “slut!” for simply not being LDS; this caused a huge impact on my life. In elementary school there was this group of girls I really wanted to be friends with, for me making friends was usually easy but with this group of girls it was extremely hard. They were LDS, I was not it was as simple as that. Growing up it felt like I had a sign around my neck saying “non-member” and especially in elementary I felt it was really hard for me to fit in.
In 7th grade I decided I wanted to be LDS so I could fit in and have an easier time in my years to come. I started going to church and attending activities and reading the scriptures, although I did not believe in the LDS religion I tried so hard to use it in my life. My thinking was that if I pretended to be LDS and pretended to believe and practice what they preach then I would make friends with that same group of girls from elementary, and later on in my 7th grade year it happened, I finally became friends with these girls I’d idolized for years.
When I look back on my childhood years I fell overwhelmed with emotion, I feel bad for myself for trying to change who I was to get people to like me. I feel anger towards the people (like those girls) for pressuring me to change the person who I was. I think that religion doesn’t show who you are, I believe self worth and life experiences define who you are.
In middle school I had a lot of friends and was very popular due to this life change I decided to make, however I was not happy and had low self esteem because I was not being who I really was, I felt like I had a secret to hide. When I went into high school I made another life altering decision, I decided to stop going to church and tell everyone the truth about myself. I am so very happy that I did that. The people I thought were my friends turned their backs on me, but I made a lot more friends that shared the same beliefs as I did and were there for me no matter what!
Now as I finish up my senior year in high school I am so happy that I’ve gone through these lesson learning experiences it has taught me so much about myself and has changed me and made me into the person I am today.
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