It Doesn't Affect Me

I typically don't try to write blog posts on anything "controversial." I keep my posts about things that I know everyone reading them will agree with. I don't like to cause problems or be in the middle of any contention.
But lately, I've been feeling like my opinions don't matter. Not only do they not matter, but they are completely invalid. I am "behind the times", and I'd better jump on board with the rest of the world or they'll drag me along behind them.
It's a frustrating feeling when someone puts duct tape over your mouth and then yells with a megaphone in your ear.
Or at least that's how it feels every time some quiet, timid voice from the shadows tries to step up and state an opinion different than the one we're allowed to have right now. They are immediately attacked for their beliefs. Just a few weeks ago I saw a girl I went to High School with express her disappointment that gay marriage was now legal in Utah. People came from out of nowhere to attack her, tell her she was hateful and wrong. Other people who weren't even friends with her started writing their own posts about what she had said, and encouraged others to join in "the fight" against her "hate." I, of course, took away from this experience that I better never, ever let it be known that I, too, was disappointed.
Not everyone is an extremist that wishes death upon anyone who disagrees with them, but for me, the worst comment someone can say (and it's always said) is, "What do you care? It doesn't affect you."
Because that's the thing. I'm not supposed to have an opinion because it's not supposed to affect me. I'm not allowed to say anything remotely conservative because the world is becoming increasingly more liberal. But the problem is that it does affect me. If it didn't, I wouldn't have an opinion at all. I wouldn't hear about it day in and day out. I wouldn't be worried about how these changes, especially the control we're handing over to the government, are going to affect my life ten or twenty years from now. And just because my opinions are different doesn't mean they are hateful, and certainly doesn't mean they shouldn't be heard.
It's hard to see, because the liberal voices today are so loud. They shout from the rooftops, they take over the media, they come at us from every corner and slowly, the conservative voices are getting softer and softer. It's working. If we all feel like we're alone, we'll stop fighting completely.
It came time to either speak up, or lock myself in my house and never use the internet or watch TV again. The other day my Facebook news feed was full of articles that made me feel sick. There was one about a new billboard in Times Square advertising porn, their objective being to "normalize" porn, so it's addicted users won't have to feel so different. There was a girl asking how late in her pregnancy she could get an abortion, because it just wouldn't fit into her crazy schedule for a few weeks. There was one, reposted several times, about a girl who waited until her wedding night to have sex, and then "regretted it." (This one was full of words of encouragement for any girl considering not waiting... don't worry! You're not missing out on anything! Do whatever you want!)
After two minutes scrolling through Facebook, I felt like I had been hit by a truck. All I could think was, man, I thought the world was bad when I was in school. What kind of world are my children going to grow up in?
It isn't gay marriage or any one problem in society that has made our world what it is, but it is our reaction to it that makes all the difference. We are all pitted against each other, and we get our opinions on important topics like gay marriage and abortion from posts our friends shared on Facebook. We give up our own morals and values for what we are told to think. The same ideas are drilled into us over and over until, exhausted, we start to give in.
My point is, yes, I am one of those "behind-the-times" people who doesn't think gay marriage should be legalized, no matter what everyone else is telling me. I believe it is an extremely difficult trial, but one they should fight. I believe that because I've seen the other side, I know what they're missing out on. I know that a man and a woman are made to be together, are given specific traits to help each other, and that marriage is the greatest blessing we will ever have. I disagree with gay marriage not because I hate anyone, but because I want them to have a chance at what I've found. I want everyone in the world to have this.
I think it's important for me to say, not because I want to yell from the rooftops too, but because I'm tired of not feeling heard. I'm tired of being told what to think and believe. I was raised to go find out what I believe for myself. I hope that, as my children grow up in a world that is likely going to be exponentially more wicked than the one we're living in now, they will learn to research what they believe and why, they will question anything that is told to them, and they will stand up for what they believe in. I joined the LDS church because I believed it so strongly, and I don't take a stand on anything until I believe in it strongly too. I also believe we should respect each other because of our differences, and realize that we are all human.
I don't expect this post to change anyone's opinions. But I hope it will give a voice, albeit a small one, to those of us who have been told to sit down and keep quiet.


Recently, Caleb and I got new callings in the Young Men and Young Womens, respectively.
A few weeks after we got our callings, our ward took a trip to the Ogden temple open house. We drove 3 of the Beehives to Ogden and back. The entire way, all 3 girls laughed and giggled (and told a surprising number of stories about vomiting). But this story isn't really about them, it's about me, and what I realized about myself that night.
As we dropped off the first girl, she made some joke as she got out of the car. As soon as the car door shut, without even realizing it, I braced myself. Here it comes. I thought. These other two girls are going to say something negative about her. To my pleasant surprise, all those cute girls said was, "She is just SO funny!"
I relaxed, but I also felt sick inside. What had made me think that these sweet girls were going to turn on their friend the moment she was out of earshot?
Oh, yeah. Firsthand experience.
I've written before about girl on girl bullying and how we treat each other, but with this post I wanted to say something different. I wanted to say that I'm afraid the way we treat each other is so deeply ingrained in us by now that it's not something that is going to change easily. I wanted to say that clearly we didn't treat each other this way when we were 12, so when did it start? Mostly, I wanted to say that it's our choice of friends that makes all the difference.

On a very different note, when I was going to school at Utah State, we had a lesson in church about pornography. The teacher told us that we shouldn't ask a boy if he's ever had any experience with porn, but to what extent. Implying that any and every boy has or has had a problem with porn at some point. I was devastated. What a shame! It certainly wasn't something I wanted to deal with for the rest of my life, always worrying about my husband.
I mentioned it to Caleb at some point when we were engaged, and he got very offended. It hit me how unfair it is for us to generalize about anything. That being said, I think I've insinuated way too often that girls are just going to be mean because they're girls. This isn't true. There are girls out there who will be great friends to you. The key is, you have to be a good friend, too.
I love this skit from Family Guy, because it's how I've always felt, and I think most women can relate.

(here is the link in case the video won't play Family Guy Video)

Still, it was a rude awakening to realize that I actually expect a group of girls of any age to say something negative about each other the minute one leaves. But in my experience, that's how it often was. There were certain friends that if I was the first to leave the group for the night, I would be sick with anxiety about what they were saying about me. Why didn't I think there was something wrong with that? Why, when a boyfriend treats us badly, do we say we deserve better, but not when our friends do the same? It wasn't just paranoia that made me feel this way, it was solid truth: I knew, because if I was the last to leave, I would take turns saying something about the other people who left. Anything was fair game. "Interesting shoe choice she had tonight." "That was stupid what she said about her dad." "I know I said I agreed with her, but I can't believe she did that."
Occasionally, I'd hear things that were said about me, and they were rarely anything with any substance to get upset over. But the problem was that we had no trust between us, and we all knew it. I felt like I spent half my time defending myself or trying to make myself look better and get people on my team, and the other half of my time knocking someone else down.
It was exhausting, it wasn't fair, and it wasn't friendship.
Growing up, I was always fairly shy, at least at first. But the last couple years, it's like shy, quiet Anndee has turned into this evil monster who demands respect.
And you know what? I kinda like it.
At first, I was upset about the number of friends who wrote me off after I got married. But, slowly, the real friends started to show themselves more. I feel I can safely say which friends I can go to with problems, and which friends I trust. Five years ago, no way.
I don't like change, and it took me a long time to be able to move on, to accept that some people just simply aren't meant to stay in our lives. There were a lot of hurt feelings, a lot of unreturned texts, and a lot of angry rants to my husband, but then it finally dawned on me how lucky I am.
Five and a half years later, and I think High School is finally over!

The other night, I was the first to leave a party with a bunch of my closest friends. It didn't occur to me until later that night that I never had that familiar, crippling anxiety when I left. These friends I have now are friends I trust, friends I can count on. I no longer need an endless list of empty friendships to keep in my phone in case I'm having a lonely Saturday night. I am finally secure enough, finally old enough, to be content with the friendships I have, and to let go of the ones that were poisonous.
It takes time, but not all girls will make you feel this way. You have to search, sometimes, but it's worth it the first time you realize you are finally completely comfortable with the people you choose to, want to, surround yourself with.