"There are some days when I think I'm going to die from an overdose of satisfaction."-Salvador Dali
Question #93067 posted on 05/18/2020 6:54 p.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

Did any of you move to Utah from another state during your childhood / teenage years? What was it like culturally? Was it easy or hard to integrate into your neighborhood, school, ward (assuming you were LDS), etc.? I only lived in Utah as a BYU student, so that’s the only perspective I have.

-In Utah but not of Utah

A:

Dear friend, 

Pebble moved a lot as a kid. Though he lived here as a small child while his dad got his MBA, he spent the vast majority of his youth across the country (mainly the PNW and Midwest.) Here's what he said: 

"I think it was actually pretty easy to integrate here, at least as easy it can be during high school. I didn't have many friends, and there were a lot of cliques, but I kind of expected that. Since I moved from California to Utah, the culture shock wasn't that bad because the California Mormons talk about the Utah Mormons a lot so I knew what it was going to be like. That being said, even though I knew what to expect, it was still weird to come here and have people talk about Church at school and everyone knows what you're talking about. I mean, in Utah I felt like people were super aware of 'church and state' stuff so sometimes a teacher would be like "When I lived in Texas for two years when I was 20 years old...." but everyone knows they're talking about their mission. That's different. In Indiana, everyone made a conscious effort to talk about the Bible in school, and it was super weird that Indiana was *more* pushy about religion than Utah. Definitely I think moving from the Midwest {Indiana} to the West Coast {California} was way more of a culture shock than moving from California to Utah. Indiana is way weirder than Utah though. That place was like a whacko Christian hell-hole. School felt like a military academy and the culture feels like you're living in an 80s movie. Everyone is SO conservative and the social norms are really old-timey. THey expected ALL of the boys to love football and worshipped the sports teams. The Football team got to eat lunch first before everyone else. It is so strange out there, man. 

"In California it felt like people thought you were evil or mean, especially because of Prop 8. People would ask me all the time if I hated gay people, and I had to tell them I didn't. But it made sense that everyone thought that. One of the biggest differences I will mention is seminary during school, that was SO NICE.

"I think the main difference though is about identity. In California, there was one stake that included a massive area in the valley, so your ward was spread across lots of different schools. You'd hang out early in the morning for seminary and then go your separate ways. Because we were minorities as Mormons, that became a really big part of our identity. Your outsider identity becomes important because it is what distinguishes you. At school you hang out with other people from your ward, because you are united. 

"Here, though, everyone goes to the same Church and everyone in your ward and stake pretty much goes to the same school. So instead of your identity and your friends being determined by your religion, everything is *way* more cliquey based on other things, like minor interests. That's the only way we can distinguish each other. I think that's part of why the California Mormons think Utah Mormons are so mean. Since everyone is the same, we separate each other into us vs. them based on who's the most spiritual, or who is the most peppy or other small and dumb things. To me, everything feels like a competition with other Mormons to see who's the best, who is the happiest, who has the most perfect life.

"Our ward [note: Pebble and I are from the same home ward] was different than most, for sure. Quite a few of us were friends, but that's not true in my other Utah wards. So I think you have your ward friends, but that's not like... who you hang out with. I didn't think it was hard to integrate into the ward or school, because people are generally friendly, even if it's not genuine. But to truly make friends can be difficult since everything is so cliquey and everyone has been friends with each other for their whole lives. Granted, that's true any time you move in high school, and I wasn't *trying* to fit in anyway. 

"So I guess short version, moving to Utah is a different religious experience, but it will never be as weird as living in the Midwest. Utah isn't so bad, it's just a different version of cliquey."

Cheers, 

Guesthouse (ft. Pebble) (the handsomest hubby around) 

A:

Dear Aziraphale,

I have lived in Utah my entire life, but I will just say that a week before I graduated high school, my parents moved from downtown Salt Lake City to Kaysville, and it actually gave me a bit of a culture shock. Suddenly everyone was white and it was like Mormonism had been ingrained into the neighborhood.

~Anathema