Try this: make a list of 365 people whose names you remember and who were interesting to you. And then, if you can, write down a few words about each of them before they're gone from your memory. If you can't do this, it might be wise to spend the next 365 days meeting more people in person who are interesting to you. Learn their names.
I have recently been reading the blog of an active Mormon BYU student who is gay. (If you are interested you can check out his blog HERE). He is currently writing about his mission and it has really been on my mind lately. I am not as brave as he is, nor is my mission experience anything at all like his, but thinking about my mission has brought me to this post.
One of the things about going on a mission and coming home and then coming out as a gay person is that the people you served with and other people in the LDS church often assume that you went on a mission for the wrong reasons and that you were not faithful or chaste as a missionary. That's a horrible assumption to make.
First of all when I was on my mission I had NO idea I was gay. I was in fact convinced I wasn't. The thought of homosexuality repulsed me. I HAD experienced ONE situation of same sex attraction prior to my mission, and I met with my bishop, my stake president and a general authority prior to being permitted to serve. I was convinced I was NOT gay, and I was hypersensitive on the topic of homosexuality.
L.D.was my mission president.. He was not my first mission president, and I have heard from other missionaries who had two presidents during the time they were missionaries that it is frequently a difficult transition from one to the other. This was the case with me. (I also know that there are people who absolutely LOVED L.D. and who had wonderful experiences with him. Not so for me.)
I was a very hard working missionary. I am proud of the way in which I served my mission. I had struggles for sure, but overall I would say my mission was a success.
For some reason the guy instantly disliked me, which I found strange because I had not done anything I believed to warrant being disliked. Let me give you an example. (This is just one small example of the many I had with L.D.)
There was scheduled to be a sister missionary "conference" near the mission office. I was serving in the area the furthest from the office. President called me up and told me what was on the agenda and asked me what I thought. I thought it was a waste of time. For me and my companion to get to the conference we would have to get a member of the ward to drive us to the meeting place, wait around for us, and drive us back. It was something the members were MORE than willing to do, and something I would not have hesitated to ask for, but the agenda for the day involved having someone from Mary Kay come and do a demo on make-overs. This to me was completely pointless and a waste of time. I rode a bike. In a skirt. Every day. Many of these days it was raining. Regardless of how many times I met with someone from Mary Kay I was unlikely to change what I wore or put makeup on to go out in the rain on a bike.
L.D. did not like that I said I thought it was a waste of time, and proceeded to reprimand me for not being supportive and telling me I had no choice in the matter, but I WOULD attend, and I WOULD take part and he would not accept anything less.
At no point, ever, did I say I would not attend. He called me, (I didn't call him) and asked my OPINION on something and I shared it. Then he ripped on me for sharing it, and made assumptions that I was not attending! His wife called me later to tell me that she thought it would be a good idea for me to come down (again, I never said I wasn't) and that it would be the boost I needed to my self esteem if I would get a makeover. She offered to pay for me to go and professionally get a makeover. I declined the offer.
L.D. was someone who I found interesting. The way he interacted with me and with other missionaries in my area who were all leaving at the same time as me left much to be desired. I certainly learned from him how I would never want to lead, if I were ever given the opportunity. It was unfortunate that my mission experience was clouded in this way by his interactions with me. Having said all that about him - he did teach me something. He taught me how to write a check. He taught me when writing out the value of the check to put a line in front of and behind the written amount so people couldnt add things on the line. Many of my interactions with him were about money.