The Warld has Turned and Left Me Here

I’ve lived in the same ward for about 10 years, and made some amazing friends along the way. Not only have these guys been great friends for me personally, they have almost all been married to women who are close friends with my wife AND have children that have formed years-long friendships with my kids. Mind you, these haven’t been just casual, at-church friends, either: I’m talking about people with whom we’ve taken vacations, watched Star Wars, shared more meals than I can count, and generally reached the level of friendship where we can talk about the boobs, the butts, the farts, and the poops without hesitation. It’s been a couple-dating utopia! Then, over the past 4 weeks, suddenly and without (much) warning, my ward (and life) went through the Scottpocalypse, as each and every one of these people moved away.

I didn’t realize it fully until this past Sunday, but nearly everyone that I’ve had more than 1-2 meaningful conversations with (outside of church itself) in my ward is gone. As I walked around the halls at church, sat in Sunday school, and went to a training meeting during the 3rd hour, I realized that I couldn’t  name 80 percent of the people around me.

So even though I haven’t moved, and my ward hasn’t moved, I feel like I’m in a brand new ward, filled with brand new people. Worse, they all seemed really, really young. And I’m not even old! My ward is roughly 35-40 percent (in terms of active members) graduate students from the local universities. Even though a PhD student is here for 5-7 years–long enough to feel like a permanent member of the ward–a share of these folks graduate each year and are replenished by new PhD and Masters students. This means that, while most of the ward ages normally with each revolution around the sun, the student population, which comprises about a third of the attendees, is evergreen: the average age never changes.

When we first, moved into the ward, I was one of these students, so they were obviously the same age as me. Even after I left school and started work, I was still the same age as these folks, and remained so until…apparently last Sunday, when the gap between myself and everyone around me suddenly ballooned to about 10 years.

I feel so alone, and demand that someone fix this.

Comments

  1. At the point that I’d been in our ward about 18 years, and had lost all of my friends due to ward splits, I was called as the executive secretary. 2 years in that calling will fix you. Now I want nothing more to retire to the primary for 5 years and hope no one recognizes me.

  2. I already was the exec. sec. in this ward. Unlikely to have that happen again any time soon, alas.

  3. Scott B's Amigo says:

    On the bright side, your meat bill is going to be about half what it was.

  4. Our kitchen was so empty on Sunday evening.

  5. The Other Clark says:

    I feel your pain, but diagnose the problem as long-standing clique-ish-ness. I think this is why some people move into a great ward and complain it isn’t: Long-term members have filled their social circles and don’t feel an effort to reach out. This is compounded in the Mormon corridor, where extended family is often nearby.

    Home teaching is one possibly policy fix, but do leaders assign VT and HT routes aligned with natural friendships, and ensure those visits get made? Or do they try to get a good mix across geographic and demographic boundaries and then deal with the complaints that routes are inconvenient/uncomfortable?

    Advice: Imagine it’s the first day of school in a new neighborhood.

  6. JA Benson says:

    Imagine the possibilities!

  7. There are way, way worse places to be than in a ward full of graduate students.* Reach out to the new people in your ward! They’re going to be interesting! I’d kill† to be in a ward like that.

    (* Well, maybe not dental students. They’re the most boring people in the universe. Search your feelings, dentists: you know it to be true.)
    († Maybe not a human being or even something sentient, but definitely a large insect of some sort. Yeah.)

  8. Think of all the new friends just waiting for you out there!

  9. Why go through the pain of watching Star Wars with someone only to see them leave you? That’s why I watch it alone. Wife and kids must find somewhere else to be for 9 hours (yes – ONLY 9 hours). Them’s the intergalactic rules.

  10. On the bright side, you look just like Buddy Holly.

  11. Same thing has happened in my ward. Almost all of my closest friends have moved and Ward boundaries were realigned so that took the rest.
    I keep reaching out to folks, hoping someone else will slide in and take the vacancies, but so far, no takers.

  12. It hit me about five years ago, when I was chatting with a young mother in our ward, that she probably didn’t think of me as a peer but as an old lady. Which I was. But I didn’t know it at the time.

  13. Oh! This makes me feel so bummed for you, and also guilty because we are one of those 6 year PhD families who have become close with a lot of “permanents” and I feel like I am preparing for a break up in a year like so many of their past PhD friends have done to them.

  14. You’re old.

  15. Maybe people just don’t like your soccer-loving Eurocentric ways and decide it’s easier to “graduate” and move away than try to help you.

  16. Time to buy a convertible sports car….make sure it’s an older model with a tape deck so you can play your mix tapes. Pure heaven.

  17. Not a Cougar says:

    The Other Clark, as a current EQ president, I can tell you that we do take into account natural friendships, but that is a relatively small factor in the calculus of setting up assignments. I value more highly a mix of companionships who are most likely to visit the greatest number of households on the most frequent basis. The downside to that may be lower quality visits, but I will take the less meaningful visits performed by a higher number of companionships to the more meaningful visits performed by a select number of companionships and households who have a natural affinity for one another.

    Of course, redoing companionships often just feels like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic…

  18. “Time to buy a convertible sports car….make sure it’s an older model with a tape deck so you can play your mix tapes. Pure heaven.”

    I second this. Camaro or Mustang. Old school American muscle. Mix tape should include Motley Crue & Def Leppard. Are you in the south? If so, grown a mullet. All will be well.

  19. Take advantage of your experience in the ward. Take a new family under your wing. Play up your experience in meetings. Accept the role of the sage, longtime member and teach the new families the ways of your ward.

    Also, for crying out loud, stop watching Star Wars. This is a dead giveaway as to your oldness. It’s like you told us you really like prunes, soft food, and dinner at 4:30 all the while denying you are old.

  20. Best to tune out entirely, just keep your head buried in your phone during all three hours of church. You’re not doing that already, right?

  21. We still miss a similar crowd from the ward we left 22 years ago. (We weren’t the first to leave, nor the last. In fact, none of the couples in that group were still in that ward within a couple of years after we left.) The kind of friendships that develop as you raise young children together and serve together at similar points in your family and professional lives are hard to replace–maybe close to impossible. Sometimes I still feel closer to those couples than to the ones I’ve now gone to church with for 22 years, though many of them are now really just Facebook friends living far away.

  22. My experience is very similar to JrL’s. We haven’t been able to duplicate the friendships we formed with former ward members as we raised and survived teenagers together. That bond is unique and unbreakable. Some of the friends we rarely see, some never, but I will love them all forever.

    I empathize with madhousewife. The realization that we’ve become senior members of our wards is a kick in the pants. My new visiting teaching partner is young enough to be my granddaughter! We’ve lots of young families in our ward, and I’m sure she wonders what she did to get stuck with me.