Tuesday, July 12

Hero, Villain, or Friend?

Growing up I found it hard to relate to people. For whatever reason, I felt ostracized from my peers, siblings, extended family members... everyone. I always felt singled out, no matter where I was. I had no friends at school, no friends on my sports teams, no friends in extracurricular activities or community events, no friends at Church, and what felt like no friends in my family. The only people who seemed to care were twenty or forty or sixty years older than I was - teachers at school, advisors at Church, and those of my relatives who fit in the 'old' category. 

I thought I was a likable kid - I wasn't ugly or awkward, and had my head on straight, and I tried over and over again to find ways to make friends... to be a part of their lives or find ways to help them be a part of mine, but nothing seemed to make a difference.

The problem wasn't that people didn't like me. My yearbook was always full of compliments: "Mormon Guy, you are incredibly smart." "Mormon Guy, you're a great athlete." "Mormon Guy, you're really nice." In the classroom, at the event, or on the field, everyone was my friend... but as soon as the bell rang, or the diplomas landed, they all disappeared. And I found myself standing completely and totally alone.

I finally realized that people weren't my friends because they didn't feel they could relate to me... and that I couldn't relate to them. That, in part felt true... since I've had such a hard time at least on my part. Whatever the reason, while I tried to be close to the people who surrounded me on an everyday basis, most of them felt emotionally distant from me. And distancing yourself from others emotionally, while being a part of their lives, can have devastating, and interesting, effects.

When you don't see who people are, and the motivations and pain and anguish and choices and background that goes into their choices, people become a simple sum of the actions you can see. And, depending on how you view and relate to those actions, people begin to take on a surreal aura of who you believe them to be... and that aura influences how everything they say or do impacts you. At least this is what I've seen in my life. When you only see the good in others, they become a hero. When you only see the bad, they become a villain. I became both.

As life unfolded, the emotional distance didn't improve. I tried to make friends and be involved in the lives of others, but it became strikingly apparent to me that as I met people, after the usual greetings, they sorted themselves into two different groups. Those who didn't want to understand me, and put me on a pedestal where they could look at me... and those who didn't want to understand me, and put me in a pit where they wouldn't have to see me.

Almost all the girls I dated eventually put me on a pedestal, which was the sign that the relationship wouldn't work. Most of the people in my wards did, too... and most of my classmates. Then, on the other side, there was the rare person who hated me without knowing my middle name or ever having a conversation with me, and the people who were threatened by my presence or else thought I was arrogant, and hence felt they were better than I was.

And then there were the rare few who could see beyond the awkward social grace, or lack thereof, the massive passion for life, and whatever else keeps me distant from the world. And those were the people who got closest to me - the people that I wished could be my friends.

I have a request for you, as a reader. Please don't judge me. Don't put me, or my blog (Gay) Mormon Guy, on a pedestal like a knight in shining armor, and don't throw me in a pit for my assumed naïveté. You don't know me - only a small part of what I share here. And if you do know me, you know I'm not a hero or a villain; I'm just another guy trying to live the gospel the best way I know how... who shares his story to try to help others along the way. If the posts here resonate with you, then turn to God, decide to write your own story in the actions of your life, and become your own hero. If they don't, then turn to God and the scriptures to find someone who understands and empathizes with your life. Don't idolize me or hate me for doing what I feel is right; instead, turn to God and try to understand me... and in turn understand your own life and the choices you make each day to return to Him.


  1. You know, I don't know you, and so I may be off base with this, but I think this feeling is much more common than you might think. I grew up in a similar situation: few friends my age, different interests than most of my peers, no open dislike from anyone (there were one or two unexpected exceptions - like you described, there was no particular reason), but most people who seemed to truly understand me were years older than me. I used to think that it made me very unique, but more recently, I've started to think differently. I guess I’ve gotten wary of assuming I am too unique, and this is one idea I had about my personality that has broken down because of that. Everyone makes assumptions about each other, and it’s hard for everyone to relate to others. Some people have an easier time not thinking about it and making friends anyway, but I’d wager that, at the very least, most introverts know exactly how you feel. (Disclaimer: it seems to me like you’re an introvert; maybe you’re not. I am: it’s the amount of self-analysis I do that makes others’ assumptions about me seem so wrong sometimes.)

    As far as making friends only with older people: I think that, with more maturity, people tend to make fewer assumptions about others, and really see them as individuals – not just in theory, but in reality. And that makes people, especially those with a particular aversion to false or incomplete assumptions, much more comfortable.

    Mormon Guy, I often wish I could really make friends with you. Your posts are all very relatable, even though many deal with experiences about which I know very little. That is a rare talent, and I’m glad you share it.

  2. You are a likable guy, and honestly I can relate to this post. I've felt similarly at many points in my life: being placed on a pedestal despite feeling insecure and often hopeless.

    I found this blog because when Boyd K Packer gave his infamous speech, your blog spread around Facebook quickly. Family and friends of people I love dearly were hurt by what you said on this blog and by the way your readers shared this blog. From my perspective, this blog has been used to demonize/judge others. Not that your intent is for people to use it to demonize and not that you have demonized people per se -- you are just simply sharing your experiences, your hopes, your dreams, etc, which is great. Perhaps if you don't want to be tossed in a pit you should encourage your readers to not toss others in a pit when they disagree with your beliefs and rather encourage love and understanding of those who live and believe differently from you.


  3. thank you for helping us understand you a little bit better. as we understand, our hearts open to both the person and the message. and thanks for doing what you feel you can and should do to genuinely help improve others' lives.

  4. I know how you feel: surrounded by acquaintances, and unsure of why friendship doesn't come easily. I've had great friends, but they've also dropped off the map - as much from the friendships not being so deep as from my not keeping in touch well enough. I'm still trying to figure it out, but to bare one's soul is frightening.

  5. I've only just found your blog so will definitely not be judging!

    Thanks for your honesty and warmth.

    Best wishes,
    Natasha @ 5 Minutes Just for Me

  6. I'm a new reader so -

    First - you are a good writer. love. Second - i believe great things are coming your way because you seem to have a lot of faith. i feel that sometimes we have these trials in life that test our faith. the relatable thing about this blog is that although readers might not share in the same trial, we all share in the fact that we have trials that allow us to make the choice to go one way or the other. Heavenly Father is stretching and molding you in a way that will make you become the best Mormon Guy that you can possibly be if you choose to remain faithful. I am rooting for you! :)

    Thank you for sharing a piece of your story with the world

  7. Thanks for sharing so many of your innermost feelings. It is a rare person who will place themselves in such a vulnerable position. I know you have uplifted me and I'm sure many others. So thank you for being open and sharing.

  8. I can totally relate to this post. Winning and keeping friends has always been a difficult thing for me.

  9. Friends and acquaintances will both come and go. Brothers and Sisters are eternal. I've been around for a long time now, you might even say I am "old". But I've learned that the people are not what's important, rather it's the affect we've had on each other that matters. We cross paths, some for a brief moment, others for longer, always for a purpose. We cannot control other people's direction, but we can control our affect on them- positive or negative. So don't worry about acceptance from anyone but the Lord. And determine now what kind of affect you will have on others. For me, I choose positive! And from everything you have written Mormon Guy, I believe your affect is POSITIVE too!!!! Life is good! We are all loved for who we are! May we bless each others lives with every opportunity!

    Love Ya! :)


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