Monday, October 7, 2013

The Myth of the Mormon Misfit


Everyone wants to believe they're different than everyone else.  Or, more accurately, that they're special.  That's just fact, and probably has been since the dawn of man.  What might be distinct about our modern experience is the desire to differentiate ourselves, not by good luck or success, but by damage or "otherness".  The mainstream is for chumps; the special exist outside the norm.

This is true of society as a whole, and becomes more intensified as the culture becomes more specific.  Hence: the birth of the Mormon Misfit.

The Misfit is someone who sees the whole of the church as the mainstream, and themselves distinctly outside of it.  The Misfit has something about them--two earrings, a tattoo, a shady past, no kids, career ambition, a graduate degree--that makes them feel apart from the "normal" Mormon.  Because I'm a girl, and have girl experiences, I'm going to make the Misfit a girl.  She sees the women in her Relief Society as cookie cutter people--"perfect", where she is "imperfect".  This imperfection is worn as a badge of honor, because those things that make her imperfect also make her interesting.

Here's the fact, Misfit: you're a myth.  For real.  You don't exist.  Look around.  I know you think you are looking, but you're not.  You don't know these women.  You're calling them "perfect", and deluding yourself into thinking that it's a compliment.  It isn't.  It's a disservice.  It excludes them from the rich interiority of personhood that you have allowed only yourself.  They are not perfect, they are true, just like you are.

They look different and maybe they act different, and maybe they like different things, and maybe they're in a different place than you in life, and maybe they even freaking bake bread and sew, but they are just as deserving of Christ's lost sheep attention as you are.

This myth of the Misfit is an old one, and an enduring one.  I attribute it's endurance to a profound lack of imagination on the part of the Misfit.  Hey, Misfit, can you really not imagine a life or worries that are not your own?  What it would be like to be adopted, or black in a predominately white church?  Or concerned that you're letting your degree go to waste parenting your four kids, or single and not loving it?  Or a Relief Society president with weighty doubts about doctrines, or the million other things that people think while the sacrament's being passed?

It has been my experience that there is only one way to cure this myth.  It's deceptively simple, so listen closely.  No, that's actually it: listen closely.  Talk to these women you have deemed so unlike you, and really, really listen to what they have to say.  Listen when they make comments in class, when they refer to their missions, or their first years of marriage, or their teenage years.

I think of my friend Julie, who might seem a bit "perfect".  She's blonde, for one. She's got three boys and a lawyer husband.  Once, in a comment in Relief Society, she mentioned that she used to have a nose ring, which she's since traded in for pearls.  When I look at instagram photos of her big, clean, suburban house, and her mantle decorated for Halloween, I contextualize them with the image I have of her, at church after her very young husband had a very serious stroke, wearing those pearls with a hell of lot more flint and grit than any nose ring could ever evoke.  She has--like the rest of us--thoughts and worries and goals and deep reserves of inner strength; which is to say, an inner life.

The fact is, Misfit, you are special.  You are imperfect, and damaged, and whatever else.  And so is everyone, everyone else.  Don't let that make you feel less special.  Let it make you feel less alone.

56 comments:

  1. I feel like you overheard my conversation with Annie this morning. So, that's kind of embarrassing. And also, thank you.

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  2. Agreed! I never noticed this phenomenon more than when I was living in Provo. It was amazing how many people I was friends with went out of their way to make themselves a misfit, even sometimes swearing or breaking the Sabbath to order pizza (to name a few things: to feel and fit the misfit role. I think we've all been there in the desire to stand out and be unique. But, as you said, listening to others' stories help us to feel less alone as we navigate life.

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  3. I too was having this conversation on Saturday, because of that dumb blog post, and then all this business with ladies vying for the priesthood. I like to refer to this as, "the only gay in the village" syndrome, via Little Britain. So many people want to feel like they are the only one. When they are clearly not, and refuse to acknowledge or accept the people around them. While I was serving in a relief society presidency last year it became more clear than ever, that everyone feels alone. Everyone feels like they don't belong. Everyone is dealing with the similar problems (especially in a singles ward) as everyone else, but they often deal with them alone, and in doing so isolate themselves, which is normal, but not necessary. That's why we are together. To lift and offer, I don't know... relief... but as I sat at the front of those meetings those women started to separate themselves. The ones who didn't care and were happy. The ones who were trying so hard to fit. And the ones who would literally remove themselves because they didn't "belong". And another thing. I'm so flipping tired of people carrying on about sewing. What a bunch of nonsense.

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    1. I've had really similar experiences, Lizzy. It can be frustrating when all you want to do is shout, "open your eyes! you're isolating yourselves!"
      Also, your comment about sewing is my very, very favorite.

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  4. Well said, Val. Why do we separate ourselves when we feel alone already?! Fear, I suppose.

    And I wonder why we so often fall prey to judging others without knowing them--so easy to do and we'd never really want to admit that we would do that...but that's so often what happens.

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    1. I agree, Lindsay, I think it's very often fear that makes us retreat into ourselves; fear of being misunderstood. The irony is that we have to reach out in order to be understood.

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  5. Very poignant post here, and especially resonates to dudes like myself. Well said.

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  6. So you are describing me, and here comes my "but no, I really am special" argument. If you want to call it that.

    I'm the one with the graduate degree. I spend all day every day wrestling with the complicatedness of language and power. I've paid a lot of money, and spent four years of my life so far to better understand these issues. I've seen how anything from subtle assumptions to outright hate speech built into our language exclude people, or make them feel like less.

    We are all misfits, but we can work to help more people forget that they are more often, which is a privilege that straight white middle class American males like me get to have most of the time, and others who are not like me have to deal with all the time. With the exception of Elder Uchtdorf, it doesn't feel like the GAs are making an effort to do move in that direction.

    There's a great tension in everyday membership between allowing people to be who they and live how they want to live, and encouraging others to strive to be better and live "the commandments." These two noble acts are sometimes greatly at odds with each other. For example, the ways we choose to observe the sabbath vary greatly, and it's easy to judge others for not interpreting that commandment the way we do.

    We are all working out how to live the commandments the best way we know how, and the church and church culture will sometimes offer generously, and sometimes impose with destructive force it's own interpretations.

    The years in which leaders (like Brigham Young) would say members who did such things as marry interracially were worthy of death aren't that far behind us and we are still recovering from that.

    So I would say it's not as easy as having someone having a chip on their shoulder, because feeling like a misfit can sometimes come directly from institutional policy.

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    1. Lest there be a mis-reading of my essay, this is not a comment on church doctrine or its institution. This is a comment on its culture. And, quite frankly, this could be applied to any insular culture.

      My point is that we can choose to stop using our own perceived differences from the mainstream as a wedge between us and it. If we choose to step outside ourselves and peer into the hearts of those around us, we might feel a little less misunderstood.

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    2. I have a couple of graduate degrees, got a divorce after a temple marriage, and am now married to a nonmember. I am in the same ward I was in while married the first time. I do not live with the nonmember. I know about the culture. No one wants to discuss the bar exam, except that they did something just like that once. They didn't. And even less want to hear about my nonmember husband or inquire when or if I will live with him. I could be the president of the misfit club. I am very active in the Church and the Gospel but don't really have a calling right now.

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    3. Steven, your answer so resonates with me

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  7. Amazing. I wish we were neighbors.

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  8. Bravo and a big "AMEN". This is wonderfully written. I'm glad I followed Deanna Munoz's link from Facebook to read it. Thank you!

    Cindy at Rosehaven Cottage

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    1. I'm glad you did too. Thanks, Cindy at Rosehaven Cottage (which does sounds like the dreamiest place).

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  9. Thank You Daughter. Love first and remember we will all be perfect latter. Be the best you can now.

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  10. I need this today. Like, really, really needed it, because I have felt terribly alone. And I know that you're right, and I'm not. What's more, I have incredible friends who won't let me forget it. Thank you.

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  11. Listen closely. Exactly. Thank you so much for this!

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  12. Julie is on insta? I had no idea. I guess I need to go find her. 'I want to see that mantle.

    ps really great post

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  13. wait, this isn't andy, its me, Shiloh. just to clarify..... also, Cindy at Rosehaven Cottage, I don't know what that is but it sounds dreamy.

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  14. Urgh, I'm gonna have to agree and disagree. And I haven't read the original blog post people are talking about, so I'm just going off your comments, and my own experiences. I completely agree that people need to be more imaginative and better listeners. I just read a great interview with Marilynne Robinson where she talks all about that. I can send the PDF your way. So I agree that on one level we are all misfits, and we need to fight that drive in ourselves. I know I've lost out on a lot of opportunities/happiness because I was bunkered behind some conception of "misfit" as a comfort zone. I'm working hard to change that.

    But I think the problem is clearly more than an omission of compassion on the part of the "misfit". There is discrimination in parts of the church toward cultural/educational/marriage status minorities, not to mention gender. The drive to homogenize a society, to quell a minority hegemony, is as strong as the drive to exceptionalism that the misfit hides behind. The adversary is working both ways, and to ignore that is, in my opinion, dangerous discourse.
    The drive to homogenize can manifest itself in a thousand different ways. I know in Brooklyn, in the singles ward, it manifested as an undercurrent of haughtiness against the uneducated minority. My experience in Utah is the opposite.

    We are all misfits, in that we are exceptional, but there are also legitimate minorities within different church cultures. And, as a minority, the psychic energy required to overcome the natural prejudice of the majority is exhausting. I can tell you that of my own experience. I've never had to work so hard to be compassionate as I do now. I imagine our ward in Brooklyn made those without graduate degrees feel the same way I am feeling now.
    Any nuanced discussion of this topic I think should clearly talk about the divide between "misfit" and "minority" and include how we can all communicate and appreciate each other.

    Also, and this may just be my innate toucy-feely-ness, but I think discussions of this topic need to be dealt with as compassionately as possible. Those that are in the minority in a given church culture often feel threatened, and usually have legitimate reasons to feel that way. The situation is fraught. Yes the solution is compassion and openness, but the message should be as compassionate as the solution.

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    1. Aaron, you are as free to disagree with me as I am to disagree with your disagreement.

      I am not advocating total cultural homogeneity. Yeah, we're different. Let's talk about it. Let's engage in a functional dialogue about those ways we deviate from what we perceive to be the norm. Let's unpack where that perceived sense of "normality" comes from. Let's examine our complicity in it. But let's TALK about it.

      I'd be there would be more participants in that conversation that you'd think.

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    2. Of course we should talk about it. We need to talk about it, it's so healthy to talk about it. And of course everyone is a minority in some way, (it's a relative condition) so everyone is going to have a seat at that table. That's where I agreed wholeheartedly with what you had to say. My point, more than anything, was that it's a touchy issue, with major feelings on all sides, and if were going to talk about it, we'd better lay some ground-rules. I think we should be celebrating anyone who has the guts to come out and say "I feel like a misfit. I feel especially ill-fitted to the church where I'm at."

      Instead of telling them they are just like everyone else (even if it's true), we should be trying to engage them, to draw them into the conversation. Because the opposite is isolation. My disagreement was less of a comment on the ability to homogenize the church (who would want that?) as much as it was a plea to understand the nuances of the situation, and to use honey to bring out those bees, if that's even an analogy. Honey for bees.

      On the other hand, I am obviously a bee, and even though I didn't think your post was particularly honeyed, it did bring me out. So, there's that, Valerie. (narrows eyes, taps temple, finger point)

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  15. I second Emily's "Amen." This was great. I love that you are writing about an overlooked subculture in the church. I hear much too many voices on the reverse lately.
    Also, I agree that listening closely is the key to seeing people and creating more empathy, more understanding.

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    1. I agree, empathy and understanding are the best keys at our disposal. Thanks.

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  16. I second Emily's "Amen." This was great. I love that you are writing about an overlooked subculture in the church. I hear much too many voices on the reverse lately.
    Also, I agree that listening closely is the key to seeing people and creating more empathy, more understanding.

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  17. as with a lot of the things you write, i like to picture us sitting on your couch with snacks and talking them through and then you write this wonderful thing that gets shared on facebook a bazillion times by a bunch of people who don't even know you, but i know them and because i know you, i swell with pride. clearly you don't need the part with the snacks and the couch and the talking, but it's nice to think about.
    anyway, this is definitely one of those.

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    1. I want to sit on the couch and talk about everything with you, Annie.

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  18. I think your essay is spot on as advice to those who are or feel like misfits. I remember when we first visited what became our ward in California and got out into the parking lot full of really nice cars (the Toyota Avalon was the signature car of that ward but there were also Mercedes and other higher-end luxury vehicles) and thinking, "I'm not sure this ward is going to be great for us as a student family." There was some mon-ey in the ward. It didn't take me too long to find out that every one of those wealthy Mormons had real trials, real things to teach me - that we were not really very different after all. And they were so kind and good to us.

    That points to the other half of this picture - what is our duty when we encounter someone who feels like a misfit? Although your advice to "misfits" is accurate, I know it is not what you would tell someone face to face if they were feeling terrible about their place or lack thereof in the church, at least not right off. You wouldn't lead with the idea that their feeling out of place was even partially their fault. You would do what the people in our California ward did - you would invite them to your home, you would shower them with love, you would make a place for them right next to you. I know you would because we were taught out of the same primer, our moms - and that is what they would do. It is what I saw Grandpa Irvine do when he met a homeless man drunk on the street. It's the Jesus way, of course.

    I wanted to say all this because you're going a tiny bit viral here, I'm sure you know - and I worry that some readers are getting the wrong idea. I think you're excellent and love your writing, always.

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    1. Hi, Valerie. Misfit, here. Nice to meet your blog.

      As I told your cousin Ana, you seem lovely and delightful and articulate. I appreciate what I understand is the intent behind your post, but I will admit, what you wrote here was painful for me. You see, I started feeling like a misfit when I began listening closely to my gay brother who, I believe, occupies a precarious place that doesn't fit well in our church right now. I know that every member has her struggles, but I truly believe that there are some who struggle more than others. A little more compassion might go a long way in helping misfit members feel like they belong.

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    2. Ana, thanks for your comments. I am the first to admit that I paint with a fairly broad brush here. This is probably not what I might say to someone who was struggling, but, I might say, in a kinder voice, "hey, you don't own feelings, everyone has them". That was my point; not that a person's feelings of alienation or clique-fatigue aren't valid, but that everyone feels them, to one degree or another.

      I think it's human nature to assume that if someone has what we lack--money, a strong circle of friends, a trouble-free family--they also lack problems of any kind. This is less a treatise against the misfit, and more an invitation for the misfit to turn outward, rather than further inward.

      Admittedly, a strongly worded invitation.

      Unknown, thanks for your comment. This particular post was in response to what I perceive as self-cultivated misfit-hood. While I tend not to caveat my writing (especially on my blog), I am not so naive or cruel that I do not realize there are those whose struggles make them stand apart from the mainstream in a very real way.

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    3. I love your blog post and largely agree with it. I have a friend that seems to fit exactly. She didn't have any obvious big flaws, but saw them in herself, and in efforts to soothe herself, resentfully judged and called several church members "the perfects," wearing her relatively small faults like a purple heart. She eventually left the church. This post is perfect for her and others like her. I just wanted to add a few points that have been touched on by "unknown" above and a couple others. Some conditions of "misfit-hood" are actually really normal and experienced at some point in life by many church members. They are also viewed by the church culture as normal, or at least not "evil," and acceptable...... things like being a poor young married couple, having a messy house, being a crappy parent occasionally, having your faith challenged, or being a doctorate level career mom, or single, or childless, etc. I am the latter two, and though I have certainly often ached for a spouse and children, and things said in church can add to that painful reminder, the pain comes from the longing, just like pain comes from any trial anyone else may have, not from being a misfit, and I still feel accepted by my fellow church members. However, there are some small groups that I really feel for and understand why they truly feel like misfits. One group is those who have survived the suicide of a loved one, especially their own child. Early church doctrine statements about suicide are condemning and deeply painful to those already suffering the deepest of pains. There are judgements also from others who don't understand mental illnesses or the whole situation and jump to judge the loved ones and the person who committed suicide and they are seen sometimes as bad people. The other group I'd say is the gay population, as was mentioned above. This is a condition they didn't choose and didn't want. It doesn't just give them a trial we can all relate to at some point and accept them anyway, it gives them a trial that gives them only two choices - act on it and be seen as perverted, sinful, unnatural, and evil, or don't and never be in love, have a spouse, have children, etc. - the deepest of deprivations. I can relate to that part of their pain. Their trial as misfit members of the church goes much deeper and harder because of the additional stigma and unacceptance we put on them. Even those who commit the sin of fornication are at least seen as normal in a moment of weakness. Gay people are labeled as there is something inherently wrong with them and their only avenue for the kind of love we all want most in this life must either be denied or they will be seen as sick and evil. My heart aches for them. They are those whose struggles make them stand apart from the mainstream in a very real way, as you mentioned. There are probably others. When the church is no longer a safe place to fall because the condition you're struggling with is met with judgement and condemnation, that could be your authentic "misfit." At that point, we as church members need to do the changing to accept and love more.

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  19. I haven't read any of the comments on this entry yet, but I just have to say: WELL DONE VALERIE!!! I think I must print and save this essay of yours for future use and reference....may I, please?? (Oh yeah, this is Debbie Adams, Shiloh's mom.)

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  20. I think all women are misfits in the church, to some extent. You trivialize the isolation some women feel by acting like they bring it entirely on themselves. I am currently serving as Primary President, a calling I never asked for, that's for certain, and I have never felt so acutely out-of-place as I have since I have taken this calling. It's bizarre to sit in Ward Council meetings and have people tell me how much budget each auxiliary is getting, knowing full well that no woman was on any committee to actually determine these budgets. It's surreal to attend "leadership training" that was written exclusively by men, including the lessons that are supposedly training future female leaders. (They should include a huge caveat that, as a female "leader," you are called to lead children and other women, but you will never lead other adult men like I would in a real job.) Quite honestly, I was far more content in this church when I held a very low-profile calling, if any at all besides Visiting Teacher.
    I didn't go looking to not fit in. I wasn't looking for it when I was sixteen and argued to my seminary teacher that husbands and wives should always be equal leaders and that one did not have "veto" power or final say over the other. I wasn't looking for it when I was in college and someone thought it would be funny/campy to show Johnny Lingo at a YSA event, after which I wrote a strongly worded lesson to Church Distribution Services about why offensive films often ought to be taken out of production and only aired with a caveat about dangerous negative stereotypes (a la Uncle Remus). More recently, I wasn't looking to feel like a misfit when I had to write an entire Primary sacrament meeting script, even though it was all I could do not to add an "s" to this year's theme "I Am a Child of God.” (Nowhere in the entire year did they mention our beautiful doctrine of a Heavenly Mother.)
    So you can complain that these people are simply malcontents who are looking to pick a bone with the church, but you would be wrong. More likely, they are far more sensitive to the feelings and concerns of others than you could ever imagine. It's empathy that drives misfits to feel on the fringes. It's not that they don't care about the rules; it's that they care too much about others.

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    1. I am a woman in the church just to clarify. I'm happy that you feel a concern for others, and that is why you feel the way you do, but I argue that it is still a personal issue. That doesn't mean that your feelings aren't valid or that you are looking for a problem. But what I mean is we all have different things that rub us the wrong way. Concerns about why things are the way the are(in and outside the church). In everything in life, we can study and pray about these things that trouble us, and we can receive revelation to answer our questions both about why things are the way they are, and what we should do about it. I have had so many answers and so much peace brought into my life while working through questions that trouble me. Heavenly Father LOVES us, and I honestly feel like he sets things up in the way he does for a reason, and for our good. He wants us to go to him, and he will bless us and give us enlightenment as we seek for it. It will happen in his time, and we have to be diligent in seeking and patient, but it will come.
      I have never felt these same feelings, but I have had concerns about other things. I'm not trying to discount your feelings, I haven't been where you are, but I know this. Jesus Christ is the head of this church. He has to use imperfect people to do his work, but his purpose will be accomplished.
      I think the message of this article is that we can do more good, and we will be happier if we try to unite and be a family instead of finding reasons to separate ourselves from others. That when we really try to get to know each other, we will see other people's trials and strengths and be able to have empathy for them as well. I believe it is Satan who wants us to feel alone, and who wants to stir up contention and anger. He is trying to find any way he can divide us, because he doesn't want us to have as much power to do good. In my own life I have felt worn down by my own anger and concerns, and the realization of where those feelings came from helped me to fight against it, to try and change my attitude, and I am happier for it. I still battle my own demons, but when I try to do what God wants me to, and seek his will, I am happier, and more able to do good for myself and others.
      The fact is, the church and gospel can't change because of one person's concern, or even the concern of thousands. Think about how many different concerns people have with the way things are run, or why we have this doctrine or that doctrine. And I have had my own concerns too. The church is on a direct course. If doctrine would change with the wind of opinion, then that course would change too. We have to have faith that God knows how to make a masterpiece from what looks like a mess to us sometimes.

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    2. Tara - I think the easiest way to describe opposition in the church is to blame Satan. But the hardest thing to accept is that there might be a pride issue, and Satan is just letting us go about our natural man/woman ways to do damage. Sometimes, he doesn't have to get too involved because we do a good job at letting our pride and natural man inclinations work for us to destroy us and others. I think that is why the Book of Mormon and our modern day leaders have warned us about pride, and we are taught the pride cycle often. We shouldn't diminish our own responsibility in the social divisions that occur in our wards or in the church.

      We have been taught that prosperity can be a curse to the saints. I think we can also add other things, like education (and where we went to school), marital status, and socioeconomic status are things that cause the natural man/woman in us to self-select or segregate ourselves. It's something that happens naturally in society. I believe it is how we overcome these tendencies that make us good disciples and give us power over the adversary and our own pride.

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  21. While I completely agree that this "perfect" Mormon girl does not exist, I think instead of trivializing our individuality, we should embrace it. We are all misfits in one way or another. That fact should draw us closer together!

    I recently wrote a post about letting go of the need to be perfect, and loving who we are right now!

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  22. Mormon Mohawk MamaOctober 25, 2013 at 1:27 PM

    http://www.mormonmohawkmama.com/good-golly-miss-molly/

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  23. Completely agree - we're all unique, different and yet sisters. We can pull together and not assure ourselves that we "aren't like everyone else" and "don't fit in." We all fit in because none of us are like everyone else!

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  24. I am the creator of the former organization Misfit Mormons.
    ( http://misfitmormon.livejournal.com/299270.html )

    When I created the group it was to facilitate accepting of more individuals into my faith.

    I would have disagreed with you years ago, but now given time and space, I think you are right on many points made.

    There is more oft than not something wrong behind every shirt, tie, dress, smile, worn, family that can't be seen readily and made known.

    For the image of Mormonism is shown to and given to perfection. It's in the smiling pamphlets given, the videos presented and the image shown.

    What isn't seen, but is known is that because of such a steep hill is given to match, the reality of the members of the Mormon faith face depression, guilt and as a result place this facade.

    I question the approach. Perfection becomes a punishment.

    I am grateful for my inconsistencies, misgivings, mistakes and very open about them.

    Unfortunately, it's not so easy for an organization to present that as it represents weakness, so the myth continues and is perpetuated further along it's route.

    I have no issue seeking a better state, but seeking perfection lacks the depth of character that embodies the human state.

    I appreciate those things we call mistakes, the repeated patterns of mishaps, in the humans around me. That is the 'good stuff'.
    ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z8mn3nLPSMY )

    It's a mad world. One day you could be looking for eternity, and the next a moment.

    I appreciate my Misfit Mormon roots, but really, in hindsight, I believe it was just a cry for me to find a place where I could be fully accepted.

    Unfortunately, I didn't find that in Mormonism. Perhaps you will.

    Mileage may vary, one size doesn't fit all and perhaps you too may find what you are looking for elsewhere.

    Who knows? Just be kind to those of us who walk a little different walk, talk a little different talk; because when all mantles of titles, labels, heiarchy, suits, ties, dresses, lace, luster and awe taken we are of the same matter.

    & really, that is what my attempt at Misfit Mormon, Mormonism and the related. A matter of embracing human.

    Thank you for sharing.

    best,

    ~z.
    [uu]

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  25. I agree that the term misfit has been overused by people who want to think of themselves as "unconventional Mormons." In my ward, is a badge of "coolness" and it is so common that it is kind of cliché to me now.

    But there are truly misfits in a ward, but not as you and many who have described in this blog post. These misfits are generally those that are on the fringe or outside of the mainstream social circles of a ward.

    I am a middle aged, single female. I have never been married, nor do I have any children. I have had opportunities to serve in auxiliary leadership and welfare callings in the ward. I know everyone and am on friendly terms, but I see and know of a vibrant social life and good friendships that exists outside of ward activities and service opportunities that I am not a part of. I am not invited for some reason, and neither are many other singles or people deemed by others not cool enough to be part of the group. We are the social rejects. The real misfits.

    I don't know how many times I have heard the complaint that someone doesn't feel like they "fit in" with a ward or a Relief Society. For the most part, we true social misfits are highly esteemed in our professions, our social acquaintances, and in the community. We find more social acceptance outside of our ward family than we do within our own ward. We go to church and serve in the church because it is where we are supposed to be, the opportunities to serve, and for the welfare of our own souls.

    Jesus taught a parable of the sheep and the goats. I say here that we need to be careful whom we categorize sheep and goats. I believe that exclusionary social behavior is not a tenet of a Zion people, but a herd of goats. I think we all need to pull our heads out of our a.... when it comes to this subject.

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  26. While I agree that there are people who think of themselves as misfits because they are not like the others they think are "perfect", please allow me to give another definition of the term misfit: those who are mistreated by other Mormons because they do not fit in with the social and cultural norms. Interesting that you said the "perfect" girl is blonde, and chose those other certain attributes to describe her. Why is that? While she is not so different from those who consider themselves misfits because she is imperfect like we they are, she still had the many attributes that are so accepted and celebrated in the Mormon culture, did she not? I was a misfit, living in Provo, UT. I did not fit into a place that was so heavily saturated with Mormons, even though I was one. I had 8 Mormons in my whole high school (From when I was a freshman-senior) total. I grew up in a completely different culture. I moved to Provo and found out just how judgmental Mormons could be. I wore tank tops and shorter shorts and the way I was treated by other Mormons was disgusting and it really is a miracle that I did not fall away. I wanted to disown the church and all its members. I was treated as a misfit because I WAS different. I did not know the culture that existed there. I was also at a different level in the gospel than some of the others around me and was "sinning" in their eyes. So was it in my head and I just wasn't creative enough as a misfit to not know that I was like all the others? Hardly. I was treated so. Another story I would like to share. A friend of a friend used to party and live a somewhat crazy life. He left behind his old friends and party life and joined the church on a leap of faith, and obviously a strong testimony. A fellow member of his ward told him one day (this is the shortened version) that he would never be like the rest of them. Ouch. He left his old life and friends to find out that others who believed the same thing he did would never see him on the same level as they were. The fact that being a Mormon misfit is a myth? False. It exists everywhere, and what it requires to truly become extinct is love and less judging. Why do those people "feel" like they are misfits? Because there is so much judgement of those who are different and do not do things the way everyone else does. This happens in every culture, not just Mormon. We could all use some eye openers to see that there truly are misfits. To see that judging comes from both sides- the "perfect" and the "misfits". Do you think that the ones who do not consider themsleves misfits might see themselves as higher and better because they understand the gospel more than others? Oh you bet ya they exist. Maybe I read this the wrong way, but I sense that you somewhat judge "misfits" for believing they are misfits. Misfits truly exist because of how they are treated by others in the mainstream, who see themselves as ones who live the culture. It needs to subside from all sides- misfit & perfect!

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    1. Tara,

      Thank you. Just thank you. Reading this article made me want to cry. Thanks for speaking up for the...myths.

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  27. Thanks for this post! For the last year or so I have been feeling like the "misfit mormon." After reading this, it has given me a new perspective. I hope to keep this post in mind the next time I'm feeling this way.

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  28. This was garbage. The Misfit definitely struck a cord with you. Just like the white person getting in a huff at the talk of racisim, you have now obliterated any semblance of having an open mind. Keep living your self righteous lives. I was rejected by my ward for not fitting the mold. And, yes, there is a mold. Get over yourself and show some compassion for those who are different than you.

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  29. It's funny how many people feel themselves as "outside", when others would see them as just "part of the group I don't belong to."

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  30. I really, really, really like this. A whole lot.

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