I was born in Utah and lived there for the first 21 years of my life. I served a mission in California and took an immediate dislike to all things Utah. I learned so much about the diversity in members outside of Utah, and have even commented that most Utah members look a like, especially the BYU persuasion. ;)
After my mission, I stayed in Utah for a year and month before relocating (in a roundabout way through Wyoming) to Omaha, Nebraska and have lived here for almost 3 years.
If you have been following my last few posts, you will know that I am about to venture back into the Utah bubble and I wanted to voice my opinions, good and bad, regarding my decision.
Pro: FAMILY. All but my little sister live in Utah, fairly close together. There have been weddings, and births in my absence and I feel that in order to claim the title of "Favorite Aunt" I need to maintain a closer proximity to the young ones. Not to mention, I think there has to be some obligation to supporting family. Not necessarily money-wise, but helping out now and then. Babysitting, family reunions, doctor's appointments, helping Mom and Dad around the house. There has been a lot of help given by my sisters-in-law (and brothers too!) and I feel that I need to pitch in too. Need and want to help out.
Con: Job Market. Need I elaborate? There is no way I will make anywhere near the piddly amount I currently accrue and that is depressing.
Pro: Larger dating pool? (Sometimes I wonder though.) Seriously though, not that there are many opportunities here, but I don't feel that dating outside the faith is a challenge I want to pursue. Utah= More Mormons.
Con: Type of people generally speaking. (This is going to be a big one.)I have found that outside of Utah, members tend to realize that no one is perfect. Whether you are LDS or a member of a different faith we all mess up somewhere and its okay. You shouldn't HAVE to be an eagle scout or a returned missionary in order to be deemed 'date worthy'. Its okay to be friends with someone who has a tattoo! I promise! Generally there is just a greater acceptance to difference away from the Bubble. Nobody assumes you are Mormon outside of Utah. Less people fall through the cracks in my current singles ward than they do in the ward I belonged to in Utah.
Pro: Church friendly activities are more accessible in our Lovely Deseret. If I have to do a work outing at another bar I will scream! Its nice when the majority of a group don't think that fun=drinking.
Con: Not a whole lot of member missionary work going on. I didn't know how to be a missionary everyday until I served a mission. What can you do in a town with a population of 6,000? I grew up with most of them for pete's sake! In my office of about 300, there are four LDS members in the building and 2 of them are not active. But everyone KNOWS what I believe. Those question and answer breaks are too much fun. I will miss those looks of incredulity. In a nutshell, I guess there is something to say about being different. But it's also nice not to have to put your guard up all the time.
Pro: Peter Brienholt. What can I say? PETE ROCKS!
Pro: The Seminary Program. When it comes time to have a family. Its comforting to have an environment to raise your kids where quite a few pressures are not as prevalent. I don't wear rose colored glasses though. I know there are problems in Utah with underage drinking and drug use, but I think that has less to do with Utah in general and more with the responsibility of parenting. But I like the Seminary program in Utah. I liked choosing between early morning (in a specified building other than someone's house or in the chapel) and released time during school.
Con: Less chance of learning to develop standards and having the opportunity to live those standards when it is different than "the norm". You've all heard the joke: "Why do you always take 2 mormons with you when you go fishing? Cuz if you only take one, they'll drink all your beer." It's easy to stand for what you believe when there are less chances of being in a situation to challenge your standards.Pro: Utah is beautiful!
Pro: Camping (being compared to Nebraska)
So, to end my rant... I will say this. Ultimately, I want to end up in Utah. I have missed it a lot. But I think everyone should, at least, live outside the confines of the bubble to be reminded that Utah is not "the end all be all". I think that when you are questioned about your faith, it becomes stronger and easier to progress. It happens a lot faster with more opportunity. I have felt it necessary to remind "Utah Mormons" that they are Christian and that makes me really sad.
So, if we, who have gone outside of Utah for any reason and find ourselves going back, remember the other side of things; remember being a minority in society. Then Utah will become less of what it is and more of what it should be. But it is up to us to take action and stop complaining.