Partly because I’m oblivious and partly because I don’t care, I have never noticed if people judged me, the way I do things, the choices I make or the way I see the world. I’m sure I’ve been judged, gossiped about, made fun of, but mostly I’ve had no idea.
Until I started planning a wedding. I feel extremely exposed and vulnerable through this whole planning process due in part to my lack of planning skillz and also because so many people have their idea of what a wedding should be, how it should look, what it should include. Because it is an activity in which almost everyone has participated in some way or another on multiple occasions, everyone has firm, even rigid ideas. It’s like true religion, wedding ideas that have come through inspiration, the Holy Spirit, given them a burning in the bosom that makes them know that their visions of a wedding are the one true wedding. But like religion, when one vision doesn’t match up with another’s vision, there’s tension. And one of them has to be false.
Or at least judged. Directly or indirectly, I have found out there are many choices that I’ve made concerning the blessed event that other people hate. It’s wrong or inappropriate or ugly. It’s too non-traditional or too traditional. Too Mormon or not Mormon enough. Too expensive or too cheap. Telling myself that it doesn’t matter what other people think turns out to be a bad band-aid when I’m bombarded with others’ disapproval.
Then my mind starts to play tricks on me. Before anyone says a thing, I’m sure that so-and-so won’t like this or that. In my head, they’ve gossiped about it before they’ve even heard let alone had time to let their lips mutter their disdain. I’ve formed every opinion they surely must have and then done my own bit of gossiping and venting to protect myself. We all know gossip is the best shield from other people’s gossip. Some of their backstabbing is real, but some of it is a stabbing pain I’ve made up in my head.
I report this because I have finally come to understand what my married Mormon friends have complained about for years. They have all mentioned judgment from others if they’re married with no children. They’ve noted even more judgment after they’ve had children. If you’re getting a divorce, judgment ahoy! It comes out in the nursery, in Relief Society, in the Primary room. It seems that everyone has an idea about what everyone else is doing wrong and we’ve got to tell everyone about it.  My friends would complain and I would listen sympathetically and then try and gently say that maybe they’re just making it up because it’s hard to be absolutely positive that all your choices concerning marriage and child-rearing are right and good for you, especially if they are slightly askew of the mainstream. That unsurety makes us vulnerable in the face of other people’s choices. Especially if, right or wrong, they make their choices with certainty.
As a single Mormon, I felt mostly protected from this. Through what could appear to be no fault of my own, I was not chosen to be married. I felt like I could float around doing whatever I wanted without judgment because hey I was a single woman in the Church. Through this wedding planning however, I’ve come to find out that people really do judge you. Some of them have told me so. I’ve heard even more through the gossip wheel. This brings me to this wicked little place where actually being judged and the judgment I’ve made up in my head merge into one beastly little creature and I have no idea what sword I should wield to fight it.
 Please note that all humans can be wretched creatures and that I do not think this is exclusively Mormon problem. But we do judge each other, let’s not pretend that we don’t.