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Monday, January 30, 2012

Not Fitting In at the YSA Ward

Dear Bro Jo,

I am 23 yrs old and I am a girl :) I moved to (withheld) from (withheld) 2yrs ago.

I struggle with a lot of things and I have been for a while...that being said I hate going to the singles ward here in (withheld)!

It seems as I can’t find a group that I click with and the ward shuns me (I have 4 tats and a few piercings) I am not really interested in dating right now as I am in no position to get married and dating leads to that the guys up here move fast meet and marry within a few months and I don’t wanna give any one the wrong impression.

I have to force myself to get up and ready for Church I dread going and sitting by myself and relief society is worse....I don’t know what to do...I tried to switch to the family ward but the Bishop strongly suggests that I stay in the singles I guess I am stuck in the brutal world of the YSA.

-Stuck in YSA

Dear Stuck,

Life is what we make of it.

Your Bishop isn't FORCING you to stay in the YSA ward, he suggested it; you're not stuck, but your Bishop is likely inspired in his recommendation. Going to the "Family Ward" is just going to be you rebelling and running away again, not facing the realities of life, a crucial part of being an adult, and something it's past time for you to do.

You want people at Church to cuddle up to you, sit by you, make friends, invite you to be part of their group, and accept you for you. I get that, and on some level I agree, and on another level it seems like you've done a lot to repel people. But look, ultimately we have no control over the people around us. What we can control is ourselves and your own attitudes.

Go to Church with a positive attitude, grateful for the Savior and the things He has done for you (and all of us).

Make friends on your own. Stop sitting alone and feeling sorry for yourself. Realize that others feel exactly like you do, even if they don't look exactly like you or have similar life experiences. Sit by someone new. Smile. Introduce yourself. Ask them about them.

And realize it's time to walk the walk. You want to fit in? Cover the tats as best you can and back the piercings down to one in each ear. Take the chip off your shoulder and give people a chance to get to know you. Take the first step: get to know them.

No one is expecting you to become a different person, but you can't go on the way you are and complain that you're not happy things aren't different. We don't get to have it both ways.

If you don't like being judged (and none of us really do), then stop judging others. In my experience people are rarely judging us as much as we judge ourselves; we often project our insecurities onto others, exaggerating or inventing their opinions because on some level that's what WE think THEY think.

If a nice guy asks you on a date (and it sounds like a few have), then go out. It would be a shame for you to miss out on a great time because you're viewing everyone through the same lens that you don't want used on you. Put yourself in the right space should a proposal come along, but for now stop using that eventuality as an excuse to keep you from fixing things spiritually and socially.

(Sometimes a guy just wants to go out, and I can tell you from the gazillions of letters and comments I've gotten, most YSA Ward guys around the world wish you YSA Sisters would stop acting like a first date is more than it is.)

Treat others the way you want them to treat you, and eventually they will.

- Bro Jo


Peter & Molly said...

I found myself once in a position where I was feeling much like you, wildly out of place in a YSA ward, and wondering why no one would reach out and be my friend. We had a lesson on the 99 and 1 lost sheep, and I thought, that's right, I'm the lost sheep and no one is coming to get me. Several months later, I had a calling and was standing giving an announcement when I looked out and realized that everyone who had moved in (people came and went fast in our ward) were looking at me and saw me as "the ward" and that I had never reached out to them either. I had never reached out to them because I was too busy waiting for someone to come find me. I guess we all feel like that one lost sheep sometimes, but I found that the best way to be found is to go find others.

Anonymous said...

I think something that can really make a difference in fitting in to a ward is having a calling. Maybe talk to your bishop or Relief Society president about where there are needs? Most YSA wards (in my experience) are in desperate need of people to teach, speak, plan, etc. I was really shy when I first began attending a single's ward and was called to an activity planning committee, which meant I had to go to all the activities. It made a really big difference for me.

Even without a calling, being as active as possible is a good way to make yourself a fixture in your ward and get to know people. Sign up for every list, do your Visiting teaching faithfully every month, go to every activity. It's a process that takes awhile, especially when you're not a social butterfly, but it'll happen if you give yourself a chance.

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to update ppl I now love church I am married to a loving man coming up on a yr and we plan on getting sealed soon :-)

Thank you for your advice

-no longer stuck

Dave Johnston said...


- Bro Jo and Sister Jo