The Lies We tell ourselves: I don't belong.

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Beefster
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The Lies We tell ourselves: I don't belong.

Post by Beefster » 06 Jan 2018, 20:44

In response to my internal conflict I have talked about in the "brainwashing" thread as well as some things my Mom said to me on the phone today, I decided to do some serious introspection. Why is it that I feel the way I do. Why did I, at times (even before joining this forum), wish the church weren't true so that I didn't have to be a part of it anymore?

I had to dig pretty deep to discover that the root cause of those feelings is that I often don't feel like I belong. I sometimes feel there is no place for me. Things get lonelier and lonelier. And so I start to look for excuses to distance myself. I look for things that make me different, subconsciously with the hope that they make me incompatible. This is a completely irrational behavior and it is totally counterproductive.

So now to dig a little deeper yet... Why is it that I feel like I don't belong in the first place?

I have a very peculiar taste in hobbies. I'm a big time gamer but I'm not into most of the most popular games. I like music but I'm very shy about showing off my musical talents. I like programming. A lot. The list goes on. I've never been a very popular guy, though most people seem to at least like me. I'm on the introverted side, but I still would like to have more personal human interaction, especially small groups in a casual setting. But because my interests don't seem to align with most people and I'm a bit socially awkward at times, I find it very difficult to make friends. It all makes me very lonely, yet I rarely have the energy to do anything about it.

I irrationally blame the church for this problem, even though I never feel like I belong anywhere. My interaction with a paid membership singles club in Denver have shown that I feel just as out of place, if not more, in other social situations.

Perhaps it's because I got really lucky right after my mission with friends practically landing in my lap. Slowly, these friends got busy, got married, and basically became mostly irrelevant in my life, with no new friends to replace them. We still keep in touch from time to time, but it just isn't the same, when you can't just pop in randomly. It doesn't help that I needed more companionship than my friends were willing to give. (This was probably also a driving force for the breakup with my first girlfriend. I wanted to cuddle way more than she was willing to, among many other things.)

I didn't really make friends my last year at BYU- at least not within the ward. I made some friends in my game dev class and at work, but for some reason, I tend to compartmentalize "professional" friendships from casual ones. Maybe that's normal. I don't exactly want to share all my deepest worries and fears with my coworkers and that's probably for the best. But because I didn't really make friends, other than roommates, I think this is why I began looking for issues with church culture. It was a scapegoat and it didn't solve the problem- in fact it may have made things worse.

This is not to say there aren't real issues with the church, but I don't think I was in (or still am) in the right state of mind for it to be productive to examine them.

I guess part of the problem (in summary) is that I don't get as much companionship or affection as I would like to have, but I'm afraid of asking for more and I don't know how to do so tactfully and maturely. I guess being a youngest child, I've been conditioned to crave attention because I got a lot of it when I was young without even trying. Adult life is different. It is much harder and people just don't give as much of a damn about you.

I feel like I don't belong because I feel too different. I irrationally respond by trying to be more different. I don't have to be the same as anyone else, but perhaps I'm not so different after all. The fact of the matter is that God's orchestra needs those really weird instruments. I don't have to be a violin. I can be a didgeridoo and that's okay. Some songs just don't sound right without one.
Boys are governed by rules. Men are governed by principles.

Often I hear doubt being presented as the opposite of faith but I think certainty does a better job of filling that role. Doubts can help faith grow, certainty almost always makes faith shrink. --nibbler

Roy
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Re: The Lies We tell ourselves: I don't belong.

Post by Roy » 07 Jan 2018, 11:01

Beefster,

You are at an awkward stage in your life. It doesn't last forever and it will get better.

Everybody differs from the mold and has difficulty with this to a degree - especially during transition periods. You are different - just like everybody else.

Also, getting out of your comfort zone to meet new people is probably a good investment.

Your friend,

Roy
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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nibbler
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Re: The Lies We tell ourselves: I don't belong.

Post by nibbler » 07 Jan 2018, 13:08

I don't feel I belong. Not by a long shot. I approached it differently though. I didn't look for excuses to distance myself, I tried extremely hard to find ways in which I could feel as though I belonged, but over the years I became exhausted in the effort.

Maybe it would help to strip out the context. Let's pretend that salvation isn't on the line. Let's say your dad belongs to a fishing club and he takes you along. The group either goes fishing or talks about fishing in their meetings, they never venture out to other topics because they're a fishing club. Let's say that fishing is more of your dad's passion but you have no interest. You want to do cycling.

Do you continue to go to the fishing club hoping that the topic of cycling will come up during conversation? Do you bring up cycling yourself? If you do bring up cycling, how do you respond when the conversation quickly moves back to fishing?

Not belonging isn't the end of the world though. There are more groups I don't belong to than groups I do belong to, and I don't worry about not belonging to the groups I don't belong to.

Of course church complicates matters. People believe their salvation is contingent on what, at the end of eternity, amounts to nothing more or nothing less than going fishing. It doesn't have to be a passion. But there's always, "How do I tell dad that I don't want to go to the fishing club anymore?" ;)
The night stared me in the face, amorphous, blind, infinite, without frontiers. Not a single star relieved the darkness behind the glass.
― Stanisław Lem

AmyJ
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Re: The Lies We tell ourselves: I don't belong.

Post by AmyJ » 08 Jan 2018, 13:22

nibbler wrote:
07 Jan 2018, 13:08
I don't feel I belong. Not by a long shot. I approached it differently though. I didn't look for excuses to distance myself, I tried extremely hard to find ways in which I could feel as though I belonged, but over the years I became exhausted in the effort.
This.
I was raised with the understanding that I did not innately belong to most groups. It was my job to carve a niche out for myself - to identify the people who would help me do that and accept me. The funny thing is, it can work. My husband tells me regularly of people (in his family, at church) who love me and whose world is a better place because I entered their lives.

Sometimes I take a break from trying. I don't push myself to meet others, go to church, or interact with people. I think the trick is learning to recognize when you are stagnating vs recharging.
nibbler wrote:
07 Jan 2018, 13:08
Maybe it would help to strip out the context. Let's pretend that salvation isn't on the line. Let's say your dad belongs to a fishing club and he takes you along. The group either goes fishing or talks about fishing in their meetings, they never venture out to other topics because they're a fishing club. Let's say that fishing is more of your dad's passion but you have no interest. You want to do cycling.

Do you continue to go to the fishing club hoping that the topic of cycling will come up during conversation? Do you bring up cycling yourself? If you do bring up cycling, how do you respond when the conversation quickly moves back to fishing?

Not belonging isn't the end of the world though. There are more groups I don't belong to than groups I do belong to, and I don't worry about not belonging to the groups I don't belong to.

Of course church complicates matters. People believe their salvation is contingent on what, at the end of eternity, amounts to nothing more or nothing less than going fishing. It doesn't have to be a passion. But there's always, "How do I tell dad that I don't want to go to the fishing club anymore?" ;)
I don't know about church yet. So far, when I do a cost-benefit analysis, it comes up in the negative for me leaving. Since the first tenet of this board is "Go Slow" [sub tenet - "Don't do anything to burn bridges you are not ready to burn yet"] I am OK with this.

If anyone were to ask me, I would tell them "I don't know - it's not that simple" for the majority of the gospel culture and doctrine outside of the 10 commandments [and really, I am not sure I am not orthodox in my views of the Bible anymore either].

It's funny, I have conversations with my husband about various gospel cultural topics - and he thinks I am too lenient and/or lazy about them. I can't help thinking that whenever he gives off that non-verbal body language, "Are you going to turn me in? If you make my belief a black/white issue, I will probably walk, and you will hate it."

Curt Sunshine
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Re: The Lies We tell ourselves: I don't belong.

Post by Curt Sunshine » 08 Jan 2018, 15:32

I have been very different than those around me pretty much my entire life, but my parents and leaders never made me feel like I didn't belong.

Frankly, that early acceptance of my uniqueness is a major reason I have been able to walk my own path within the overall, communal, Mormon journey with less struggle than many. I might not have fit naturally, but I did belong - and I have learned to carve out a way to fit and be seen as "faithful" while being heterodox.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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Beefster
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Re: The Lies We tell ourselves: I don't belong.

Post by Beefster » 08 Jan 2018, 18:03

AmyJ wrote:
08 Jan 2018, 13:22
nibbler wrote:
07 Jan 2018, 13:08
I don't feel I belong. Not by a long shot. I approached it differently though. I didn't look for excuses to distance myself, I tried extremely hard to find ways in which I could feel as though I belonged, but over the years I became exhausted in the effort.
This.
I was raised with the understanding that I did not innately belong to most groups. It was my job to carve a niche out for myself.
I largely feel the same way, but I think I do it a little too much. I'm definitely a niche person off in the periphery of most social circles. I'm okay with that. But sometimes I use that as a reason to distance myself from others, which prevents me from meeting my social needs. I suspect this will be much better when I'm married (hopefully to someone somewhat more outgoing than me) because I will have reasonably consistent companionship with someone I love- I noticed a difference even when I had a girlfriend, so it's not totally unfounded.

If I were a total introvert, I could afford to be a hermit, but I start getting depressed and lonely if I go to long without meaningful human interaction.
Boys are governed by rules. Men are governed by principles.

Often I hear doubt being presented as the opposite of faith but I think certainty does a better job of filling that role. Doubts can help faith grow, certainty almost always makes faith shrink. --nibbler

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nibbler
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Re: The Lies We tell ourselves: I don't belong.

Post by nibbler » 08 Jan 2018, 18:24

"My life is just one constant battle between wanting to be alone, but not wanting to be lonely." -Somebody
The night stared me in the face, amorphous, blind, infinite, without frontiers. Not a single star relieved the darkness behind the glass.
― Stanisław Lem

AmyJ
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Re: The Lies We tell ourselves: I don't belong.

Post by AmyJ » 09 Jan 2018, 08:56

Beefster wrote:
08 Jan 2018, 18:03
I largely feel the same way, but I think I do it a little too much. I'm definitely a niche person off in the periphery of most social circles. I'm okay with that. But sometimes I use that as a reason to distance myself from others, which prevents me from meeting my social needs.
I can relate - it seems that identifying and meeting social needs is a tricky pendulum that it is hard to hit just right.

There have been times when I don't want to interact with others that I found opportunities to serve and that helped me meet my social needs.
You might gain a great amount of mileage from finding an organization to serve with (outside of the church) in a capacity you feel comfortable.
Beefster wrote:
08 Jan 2018, 18:03
I suspect this will be much better when I'm married (hopefully to someone somewhat more outgoing than me) because I will have reasonably consistent companionship with someone I love- I noticed a difference even when I had a girlfriend, so it's not totally unfounded.

If I were a total introvert, I could afford to be a hermit, but I start getting depressed and lonely if I go to long without meaningful human interaction.
Assuming your spouse will meet your emotional needs is a loaded gun. I can absolutely guarantee you that there are going to be times when that lucky lady won't be able to do so, and may even antagonistic about you insisting she does so. This has happened to me - my husband sometimes relies on me to meet his social needs, and we wind up being upset with each other because he assumes that I will always be able to do so, and I may not have the resources to do so.

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Reuben
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Re: The Lies We tell ourselves: I don't belong.

Post by Reuben » 14 Jan 2018, 09:14

Beefster, you might find Brene Brown's latest book Braving the Wilderness helpful. It's about finding belonging when you don't or can't fit in, rather than finding belonging by fitting in.
My intro

Love before dogma. Truth before loyalty. Knowledge before certainty.

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