The Mormon church has been apart of my family for generations and I would say it is still a part of my culture. I learned a lot of things from being an active member, a bishop’s daughter, and a youth leader. I learned to how to be confident speaking in front of a large group, I learned about community service, family bonds and coordinating large events.I learned a lot of good things from the Mormon church, but what took me the longest was to learn how happy I could be without it.

I struggled in high school and then my early years of college to decide if it was truly where I belonged. I felt pressure from church leaders, peers, family members, and seminary teachers. I felt that overwhelming pressure that makes you cry yourself to sleep, hum songs in your head when you don’t want to listen anymore, and question everything about yourself. I would hate myself to the point that I would physically feel sick and try to look for any vice to feel be better. About six years ago when I was living in South America for school, I decided I would never go back.

For myself, and now I know for others, it was one of the hardest, but the most rewarding experience I have ever had. I chose to love myself and to embrace what made me happy. I was scared for what that meant for my family and if they would still accept me. I was scared for my future and wondered if I would be alone. Instead I felt a powerful weight lifted of my shoulders. And hey, guess what- I’m still a good person! I can honestly say that I love myself and I took charge of my life. I am lucky to have supportive friends, a loving husband, and a family that opened up to still accept me, for me. Where will I go without the Mormon Church? I will find happiness and love for myself.