Growing up I found it hard to relate to people. For whatever reason, I felt ostracized from my peers, siblings, extended family members... everyone. I always felt singled out, no matter where I was. I had no friends at school, no friends on my sports teams, no friends in extracurricular activities or community events, no friends at Church, and what felt like no friends in my family. The only people who seemed to care were twenty or forty or sixty years older than I was - teachers at school, advisors at Church, and those of my relatives who fit in the 'old' category. 

I thought I was a likable kid - I wasn't ugly or awkward, and had my head on straight, and I tried over and over again to find ways to make friends... to be a part of their lives or find ways to help them be a part of mine, but nothing seemed to make a difference.

The problem wasn't that people didn't like me. My yearbook was always full of compliments: "Mormon Guy, you are incredibly smart." "Mormon Guy, you're a great athlete." "Mormon Guy, you're really nice." In the classroom, at the event, or on the field, everyone was my friend... but as soon as the bell rang, or the diplomas landed, they all disappeared. And I found myself standing completely and totally alone.

I finally realized that people weren't my friends because they didn't feel they could relate to me... and that I couldn't relate to them. That, in part felt true... since I've had such a hard time at least on my part. Whatever the reason, while I tried to be close to the people who surrounded me on an everyday basis, most of them felt emotionally distant from me. And distancing yourself from others emotionally, while being a part of their lives, can have devastating, and interesting, effects.

When you don't see who people are, and the motivations and pain and anguish and choices and background that goes into their choices, people become a simple sum of the actions you can see. And, depending on how you view and relate to those actions, people begin to take on a surreal aura of who you believe them to be... and that aura influences how everything they say or do impacts you. At least this is what I've seen in my life. When you only see the good in others, they become a hero. When you only see the bad, they become a villain. I became both.

As life unfolded, the emotional distance didn't improve. I tried to make friends and be involved in the lives of others, but it became strikingly apparent to me that as I met people, after the usual greetings, they sorted themselves into two different groups. Those who didn't want to understand me, and put me on a pedestal where they could look at me... and those who didn't want to understand me, and put me in a pit where they wouldn't have to see me.

Almost all the girls I dated eventually put me on a pedestal, which was the sign that the relationship wouldn't work. Most of the people in my wards did, too... and most of my classmates. Then, on the other side, there was the rare person who hated me without knowing my middle name or ever having a conversation with me, and the people who were threatened by my presence or else thought I was arrogant, and hence felt they were better than I was.

And then there were the rare few who could see beyond the awkward social grace, or lack thereof, the massive passion for life, and whatever else keeps me distant from the world. And those were the people who got closest to me - the people that I wished could be my friends.

I have a request for you, as a reader. Please don't judge me. Don't put me, or my blog (Gay) Mormon Guy, on a pedestal like a knight in shining armor, and don't throw me in a pit for my assumed naïveté. You don't know me - only a small part of what I share here. And if you do know me, you know I'm not a hero or a villain; I'm just another guy trying to live the gospel the best way I know how... who shares his story to try to help others along the way. If the posts here resonate with you, then turn to God, decide to write your own story in the actions of your life, and become your own hero. If they don't, then turn to God and the scriptures to find someone who understands and empathizes with your life. Don't idolize me or hate me for doing what I feel is right; instead, turn to God and try to understand me... and in turn understand your own life and the choices you make each day to return to Him.
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