Sunday, February 12, 2012

Lessons Learned

Everyone in my apartment seems to start out every conversation with a precursor or a disclaimer, like "I don't mean to be rude" or "Please don't judge me for this," so I thought it would be appropriate to start this blog post out with one. I go.

DISCLAIMER: I am writing this blog post to vent. For some reason, writing this down in my journal was not quite satisfactory enough for me so please don't judge me for the following diatribe.

I have lived in the same ward for the past year and a half. I moved into apartment W24 in The Elms for the 2010-2011 school year. I was a senior at BYU. Most of the girls in my ward were sophomores. Let me give you another disclaimer: I know what it's like to be a sophomore girl at BYU. You're no longer a freshman so you feel like you have a pretty good handle on BYU and its workings. You're in your first apartment complex where returned missionaries live right around the corner from you. You find a group of guys you like and you guard them jealously, giving the stink-eye to other girls who might be possible competition. Believe me, I know. I've been shunned, glared at, and excluded but, unfortunately, I have also been on the other side of the coin, too. So I know what it's like to be a part of the flirtatious "clickiness" that is sophomore year. Needless to say, sophomore girls can really drive me up the wall.

Despite the large number of sophomore girls, I found that I really liked my ward. I was comfortable there. Quite frankly, I was so bogged down with schoolwork that I didn't really have time to be annoyed by the exclusion. I was so wrapped up in my own little world that I didn't even notice that there were any clicks in the ward. I would hear the occasional "Man, that girl totally glared at me for sitting next to that boy in Sacrament Meeting," or "Yeah, a lot of the people in the Avenues are thinking about moving out because they never get invited to anything" (this particular complaint will be much talked about later on in this post) but I never thought much of it. How could people think that our ward was clicky or exclusive when we had people knocking on our door all the time, when people would come over to talk to us almost every day of the week, or when we got invited to do so many fun things on the weekends? As far as I was concerned, the 101st Ward was the only ward at BYU without clicks. Heck, my opinion of sophomore girls was even changing.

Spring and summer terms were fantastic. I was still in the same ward, just in a different apartment with different roommates. I actually had a social life. I went hiking, I went kayaking, I had a group of friends that I actually did things with on the weekends. I hung out with people in The Avenues and The Elms. The ward was seamless. Life was so good that I dreaded moving out of the ward and across campus to Condo Row where I had a contract for Fall/Winter. A contract opened up in the Avenues and I took it. I felt really good about staying in the same ward and I sold my contract at Condo Row. I graduated from BYU in August and I had the option of moving on to bigger and better things. But I didn't. Why? Because I thought that Provo was still the best place to be for a single Mormon girl. I had lots of friends in my ward and I didn't expect my awesome social life to change too much when school started up again for everyone else. Life was going to be swell!

Oh, how wrong and naive I was...

I noticed a difference in my life almost as soon as I stepped foot into my new apartment in The Avenues. Remember how I used to hear that complaint that people in the Avenues were thinking about moving out of the ward because they never got invited to things? Well, I became an "Avenues person" and, all of a sudden, the knocks on my door stopped. Invitations to different fun events stopped coming. People who I thought were my friends made no effort to be mine. Instead of being out and about doing things on Friday nights, I was sitting at home, watching movies or reading books. We invited people over to do things but they never came. I tried for a while to hang out with my old friends in the Elms, but I realized that the door is supposed to swing both ways in friendship and I felt like I was doing all the work. After a while, I stopped going over there and, judging by the amount of fun they seem to have over there without me, they don't seem to mind. I see pictures on Facebook of "the Elms people" all hanging out together and I've realized just how clicky this ward really is. The glares started to come back (and not just from sophomore girls).

I felt down a lot last semester. A lot of people thought it was because I didn't have a job. Others thought it was because I hadn't quite figured out what I wanted to do with my life. Those who know me well thought it was because of some difficult things that happened to my family. While those reasons were all contributing factors, they weren't the main reasons for my bad days and sour moods. The main contributor was loneliness. I didn't feel like I had any friends besides my family members, my roommates, and a few people in my ward.

I didn't write this blog to make anyone feel bad, especially since most of my troubles have come from my own blunderings. I wrote this blog to get the things out that have been frustrating me but also to tell you about the things I've learned.
  • A practical thing I've learned is this: When you graduate, PLEASE have something in mind that you want to work toward. Graduating from college is a big achievement. There aren't too many things better than holding a diploma in your hand that signifies that you just survived four grueling years of stress, worry, and fatigue and earned a Bachelor's Degree. But if you don't have a plan or at least a few tangible options for what you want to do with your life after you walk across that stage, that degree doesn't count for much.
  • A spiritual thing I've learned: Develop a good relationship with your Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ when times are good. I had a good relationship with my Savior before these trials crept up on me, but I didn't realize then how important that relationship would be when times got tough. Last semester, when I didn't feel like there was anyone on earth who really understood me or what I was going through, I was able to develop my relationship with Christ further and rely on the only person who could really truly empathize with me. I prayed to Heavenly Father and He answered my prayers by putting people in my path who provided love and support. So when you are feeling all alone, turn to the Savior. He's the one friend who will never fail you. There's a passage in Louisa May Alcott's Little Women that says this so well: "'The troubles and temptations of your life are just beginning, and may be many; but you can overcome and outlive them all if you learn to feel the strength and tenderness of your Heavenly Father as you do that of your earthly one. The more you love and trust Him, the nearer you will feel to Him, and the less you will depend on human power and wisdom. His love and care never tire or change, can never be taken from you, but may become the source of life-long peace, happiness, and strength. Believe this heartily, and go to God with all your cares, and hopes, and sins, and sorrows, as freely and confidingly as you come to your mother.' Jo's only answer was to hold her mother close, and in the silence which followed, the sincerest prayer she had ever prayed left her heart without words; for in that sad, yet happy hour, she had learned not only the bitterness of remorse and despair, but the sweetness of self-denial and self-control; and, led by her mother's hand, she had drawn nearer to the Friend who welcomes every child with a love stronger than that of any father, tenderer than that of any mother."
  • A hard thing to learn: Sometimes things don't work out because you need to learn that change is a good thing. I stayed in Provo because I was comfortable here. Because of recent experiences, however, I've realized that it's time to move on. There is nothing for me here. It's scary to think about going out into the unknown but I know it is the best thing for me now.
I've always wondered how people can say they were grateful for their trials, but I can honestly say that I am grateful for the ones I've had to go through. I've learned and grown so much. I have been sooooooo much happier this semester because I feel like my perspective of what life is really all about has changed. This life really is a refiner's fire. Just remember that the flames of life are meant to get rid of all the little impurities and make you a much better and stronger person.

(Well, that was supposed to be a venting session. It turned into something much different :)


Shelley and Steve said...

Good lessons to learn though its not always fun learning them. A poem comes to mind:

When things go wrong as they sometimes will,
When the road you're trudging seems all uphill
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit --
Rest if you must, but don't quit.

Life is strange with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a fellow turns about
When he might have won had he stuck it out.
Don't give up though the pace seems slow --
You may succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than
It seems to a fair and faltering man,
Often the struggler has given up
When he might have captured the victor's cup,
And he learned too late when night came down,
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out --
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems afar,
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit, --
It's when things seem worst that you mustn't quit.

Kelly said...

I know that I am 2000 miles away but I still think of you! I hope your next adventure falls into your lap. There is a huge world outside of the provo bubble. Not to mention great singles wards all over the country. I know you will find your next step. It hurts to grow, it hurts to change, but before you know it, you can do bigger and better things that you never thought yourself capable of. Best of luck Celia! Send me a line or a ring sometime!

lisa c. said...

You're so much more verbose than I am. Refining is painful and lonely sometimes, and if I may say, never really ends:) Change is good, hard and scary, but good. Be open to going wherever you need to, to create friendships that are even more lasting than the ones you thought you had. I thought friendships from high school and college would stick around, they don't always. Some do. The ones that stick seem to be the ones where you struggle through things together, help eachother and see eachother in the worst situation and still come back. Ok, that sounds like any sort of meaningful relationship:)

The Keogans said...

Shelley... I love that poem. I don't think I have ever heard it before. I think I will need to copy and paste it somewhere.

I really enjoy your posts Celia, happy or sad. I wish I could be out there and hand out with you on friday nights if you have no one else to be with, or just watch some movies together and laugh a ton at mostly nothing. Hopefully there will be something that comes up soon for you and I bet there will be. Probably something better than anything you had in mind. Love you!