Going downhill, what do I do?

Public forum for those seeking support for their experience in the LDS Church.
byustudent
Posts: 15
Joined: 01 Mar 2015, 22:21

Going downhill, what do I do?

Post by byustudent » 16 Apr 2015, 22:37

Hey everyone.
It’s been a while since I’ve posted any updates on my situation. I’ve decided not to go on a mission (at least this year). As I mentioned in my last post [1], I told my parents that I was struggling with a lot of doubts and they were very supportive of me. I haven’t yet told them of this decision, as it’s a recent development. They won’t like it but they will still love and support me.

My younger brother has finished his mission paperwork and is about to submit them for this summer to leave straight out of high school. The family dynamics there are kind of weird but better than I thought they would be.

It’s hard because 100% of my family on both sides spanning several generations are all LDS; all of my grandparents, aunts and uncles, many of whom live here in Provo and I regularly see ask me about my experience at BYU, and when I’m going on my mission. All of my cousins my age have either already left or have their calls.

I’m unhappy here at BYU. I didn't even realize it fully until my roommate pointed it out to me because he noticed it; he knows that I have a lot of doubts and some of the things I am struggling with. Not once have I ever woken up and thought, “I’m happy to be here at BYU”. But I feel trapped here as well. I wanted to attend Stanford or Duke, but didn’t apply to the former and was rejected from the latter. I’ve considered transferring, but to where? The schools I want to go to have transfer acceptance rates under 4% and would cost me over 10x what I’m paying at BYU, especially considering I’d have to give up my scholarships here. There are definitely things I enjoy here, but I don’t think any of them are specific to BYU only (except the fact I get to go skiing every weekend in the winter). And I don't even know if that's the root (or a big part) of my unhappiness; I don't know if going to another university would fix that.

I didn't have much spiritual ground to stand on in the first place, and I’ve lost almost all of the little I had. I believe (definitely don’t know but hope/believe) that there’s a God, and that’s about it. I sometimes find peace reading about Jesus in the bible and certain parts of the BOM, but that’s it; I have a very weak testimony in the bible, and I don’t have one of the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, Book of Abraham, etc. I’m a very logical and somewhat cynical person (probably not the best environment for faith to grow in), and have become very disillusioned with Church History, among other things.

That being said, I still believe the Church is a good organization. It provides a pillar of strength for those who believe in it, and (mostly) inspires its members to be better people. But I don’t necessarily believe that it is of God and not of man.

I’m here at BYU for a spring term, then I will hopefully be interning in San Francisco this summer, I should hear back this week. If not, I’d likely stay here in Provo and work full time before starting school again in the fall, I have a good job for spring term that I’d keep.

Side note, I went to BYU’s accreditation meeting this week [2]. It was very interesting, and there were several points I agreed with about the double standards here. There’s an audio recording available if you’re interested [3].

I just don’t know what I should do. I just want to be happy, but I don’t even know what I need to do to become happy. Even though I’ve always been an extremely extroverted and social person, I have very few friends here at BYU. Almost everyone I know here is leaving on their missions this summer, so starting in the Fall I will only know a couple of students on campus and have classes with none of them.


[1] viewtopic.php?f=5&t=6336
[2] http://www.kutv.com/news/features/local ... 5784.shtml
[3] https://soundcloud.com/choose_the_rice/byu-accredition

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West
Posts: 215
Joined: 26 Aug 2014, 14:42

Re: Going downhill, what do I do?

Post by West » 17 Apr 2015, 00:57

Hey, byustudent. Good to hear from you. I was just reading an article about the accreditation meeting earlier this evening. Many good points came from that, and I'm interested to see if it will have any effect whatsoever.

You're in a very tough place. The societal pressure is immense for a young man at BYU to go on a mission, and if you don't go, then many people assume something's "wrong" with you. Kudos to you for knowing that it isn't your time to go (and might never be). Not every young man should serve a mission, and it's definitely hurtful that that pressure is so ingrained in the culture. The Church sent home 400 missionaries last month (I think it was month) due to issues such as depression, so for the record, many who go are better off staying. Eventually, your family and friends will stop asking when you're going; my parents and family members stopped asking my younger brother when he was going to go after a few years.

Of course, he went to Utah State, so the pressure may likely be a bit different. I've no idea, since I went to Weber. I almost transferred to Utah State, though, in my fourth or fifth year of college. I felt trapped at Weber doing the same old thing, and a friend encouraged me to transfer with her up to USU. I couldn't that semester, so I told her I'd probably do it the semester after. I ended up staying at Weber and finishing my schooling there. That path has taken me into some pretty incredible experiences. I guess what I'm trying to say is to take things one semester at a time.

I don't know if your unhappiness with where you are will pass. I do know that in my case, I had to take a step back from trying to force myself to enjoy what I thought I should enjoy about my school and institute and instead sought out the things that I did enjoy. Happiness is something many of us humans strive for our entire lives. Sometimes we find it, only to have it fade, and we have to go looking for it again.

Is there a hobby or interest that has a group on campus you can participate in to reach out to friends there? Perhaps there is a group outside of the Church and outside of BYU that you can connect with. People move on, but many eventually come back, and in the meantime, you figure out ways to meet new people. The best part of being in college is you can build relationships with people at different ages and stages of life.

Feel free to vent and try to talk yourself through things here. I for one can't offer a lot of advice, since I don't know a whole lot about your personal situation, but we can at least offer to listen.
Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. -Albert Einstein

And God said 'Love Your Enemy,' and I obeyed him and loved myself. -Kahlil Gibran

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SamBee
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Joined: 14 Mar 2010, 04:55

Re: Going downhill, what do I do?

Post by SamBee » 17 Apr 2015, 05:35

I didn't do a mission either, I just didn't feel it was for me, but they did try to ram it down my throat. I'm not the best with people and find it easier to communicate via the Web!!!

I don't doubt that there are some good people at BYU, you just have to find them. Maybe foreigners and people who come across as outsiders (in a good way!) are the people you should be seeking out. I agree with West you should be looking at hobby groups - maybe get involved in sport?
DASH1730 "An Area Authority...[was] asked...who...would go to the Telestial kingdom. His answer: "murderers, adulterers and a lot of surprised Mormons!"'
1ST PRES 1978 "[LDS] believe...there is truth in many religions and philosophies...good and great religious leaders... have raised the spiritual, moral, and ethical awareness of their people. When we speak of The [LDS] as the only true church...it is...authorized to administer the ordinances...by Jesus Christ... we do not mean... it is the only teacher of truth."

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On Own Now
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Joined: 18 Jan 2012, 12:45

Re: Going downhill, what do I do?

Post by On Own Now » 17 Apr 2015, 06:04

byustudent,

I don't know if anything I say can help, but I'll toss out a couple of ideas, and let you sift through them.

I often find it helpful to think of the LDS Church as if it were another religion that I am attending as a guest. Occasionally, I will go to another denomination's service and then when I go back to our Church, I see a lot of similarities and things that might normally seem awkward to me because of my history, I am able to take as the religious conviction of others that I only observe. Perhaps you could do something similar. Imagine you are at Notre Dame or Gonzaga and getting a great education while all the people around you are devout followers of their religion. You might have to go to mass or say the Lord's Prayer or something, but it's just part of the experience of being a guest at a religious school.

You are getting a first-rate education for almost free, or at least for a tiny fraction of what you would pay at Duke. That is something to celebrate. BYU is a very good and competitive school. All the students there were the smart kids in high school. Probably half of the students at BYU were in the top-ten of their graduating class. It's a gift to be able to have this opportunity. Maybe you could focus on that, and let the awkwardness you feel take a back seat to your education. In other words, I'm certain that for you, when you think of BYU, you think of devotionals, opening prayers in class, religious classes, crazy religious obedience, dress and grooming standards, pressure to go on a mission. But BYU first and foremost is a University. If you can find a way to concentrate your passions there, the rest may become more tolerable.

I've found, for me, that I feel more free the more open I am about my beliefs. I don't mean about WHAT I believe, but I mean about WHETHER I believe (very important difference). You might find that if you say to your peers, "I still practice the LDS faith, because I think it's good and the best way I know to approach God, but I'm no longer a believer in all the doctrines", that you might be received with love and respect. The key is to be supportive of the faith of others and not to be confrontational. It's that pesky old "Golden Rule" thing that Jesus mentioned. Treat others exactly the same way you hope that they treat you. Some of them will not respond in kind but most will. If they perceive you as friendly to the Church and accepting of their faith without a need to explain why they are wrong, then maybe they will still treat you well. Hiding behind a facade is a sure-fire way to be lonely (my own experience talking). I don't tell everyone, but I don't pretend either.

I wish you well.
"Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another." --Romans 14:13

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SamBee
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Joined: 14 Mar 2010, 04:55

Re: Going downhill, what do I do?

Post by SamBee » 17 Apr 2015, 06:35

FWIW I was at a college over here, where the social life was pretty pathetic. It was partly to do with where the campuses were located.
DASH1730 "An Area Authority...[was] asked...who...would go to the Telestial kingdom. His answer: "murderers, adulterers and a lot of surprised Mormons!"'
1ST PRES 1978 "[LDS] believe...there is truth in many religions and philosophies...good and great religious leaders... have raised the spiritual, moral, and ethical awareness of their people. When we speak of The [LDS] as the only true church...it is...authorized to administer the ordinances...by Jesus Christ... we do not mean... it is the only teacher of truth."

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DarkJedi
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Joined: 24 Aug 2013, 20:53

Re: Going downhill, what do I do?

Post by DarkJedi » 17 Apr 2015, 07:43

I don't disagree with your strategy being worth a try OON, and I realize some people here cope very well using that type of thing. But, having had three kids at BYU, I'd be very careful about who I told what. Although well meaning, a room mate (for instance) can make life pretty rough on someone struggling just by telling the bishop what someone else told him or her. On the other hand, there are sympathetic and trustworthy people at BYU. BYU in general is your ward culture multiplied to the Nth degree, complete with the most zealous of zealots. The kids who really struggle with Mormon culture generally choose not to go there, and that's part of the reason there are other schools in Utah.

I think I know where byustudent is coming from, it's tough. Unfortunately I don't have anything to offer than what I and other offered earlier.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

My Introduction

Roadrunner
Posts: 887
Joined: 25 Sep 2012, 15:17

Re: Going downhill, what do I do?

Post by Roadrunner » 17 Apr 2015, 11:29

Is UVU or an online BYU degree an option? Or maybe a BYU degree with as many online classes as possible? Some community colleges (I don't remember what state you're from) offer good value and 4 year degrees for cheap. BYU is not for everybody but the value / price is unbeatable. For what it's worth I studied engineering at BYU and didn't really like it either because I basically studied or worked every hour of the day. It may depend on what you're trying to get out of your time at college.

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SilentDawning
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Joined: 09 May 2010, 19:55

Re: Going downhill, what do I do?

Post by SilentDawning » 17 Apr 2015, 11:49

There are times when you just have to stick it out -- is this one of those times? Could you accelerate your studies at BYU and get the cheap tuition and then move on to another chapter of your life?

Or, could you find other lower cost alternatives to BYU?

Regarding the pressure to serve a mission, I was under similar pressure when my wife and I were unable to have children for a number of years. People were constantly asking us about having children. We eventually came out with phrases that would make people think about what they were saying. I won't say them here, as I might get moderated (just kidding, but they were kind of startling), but they worked.

Regarding no friends right now -- that will pass. You have extraversion on your side, and will make new ones -- it's normal for people to be transient at your age.

Some suggestions, that's all.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

A man asked Jesus "do all roads lead to you?" Jesus responds,”most roads don’t lead anywhere, but I will travel any road to find you.” Adapted from The Shack, William Young

byustudent
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Joined: 01 Mar 2015, 22:21

Re: Going downhill, what do I do?

Post by byustudent » 17 Apr 2015, 12:27

I've already accelerated my time here at BYU; I came with 30+ AP credits, and I'm starting my program's junior core this fall even though I'm a freshman. It's impossible to find somewhere cheaper than BYU; I had a 90-100% tuition scholarship to a state school back home on the east coast and it was still cheaper to come to BYU even without the scholarship they gave me. Personally, community college isn't an option for me. There's definitely some pride there but I felt somewhat embarrassed to only be going to BYU when a lot of my friends and classmates from back home are at Stanford, Vanderbilt, John Hopkins, etc. I wanted to go to an Ivy or elite university, and I had the grades and everything else you'd expect but I wasn't admitted to any. I think it's one of those time's I'll have to stick it out.

Ann
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Joined: 09 Sep 2012, 02:17

Re: Going downhill, what do I do?

Post by Ann » 17 Apr 2015, 13:48

DarkJedi wrote: BYU in general is your ward culture multiplied to the Nth degree, complete with the most zealous of zealots. The kids who really struggle with Mormon culture generally choose not to go there, and that's part of the reason there are other schools in Utah.
byustudent - Are you majoring in something that also has a strong program at USU or U. of U.? What are you post-undergrad plans? Fwiw, I grew up east of the Mississippi and left BYU and a scholarship after one year for another Utah school. Have you spent much time on those other campuses?
"Preachers err by trying to talk people into belief; better they reveal the radiance of their own discovery." - Joseph Campbell

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." - Marcel Proust

"Therefore they said unto him, How were thine eyes opened? He answered and said unto them, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed my eyes...." - John 9:10-11

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