Token Mormon

I’ve got a fifteen minute break here, and I have another thing I want to post before I forget about it. I had an experience today that I haven’t had in years and years. I finally remembered what it’s like to be a token Mormon. What I mean by this is the feeling you get when you realize people are looking at you and thinking, “So that’s what a Mormon’s like.” Now, even as I write this, I want to clarify that I know in this situation the person didn’t really break things down that black and white, I’m just saying that when people know so few Mormons, and they know you are one, their definition of what a Mormon is/isn’t can change based on your single example.

When I was in Utah, where there are lots of Mormons, the fact that I watch South Park didn’t necessarily seem like something noteworthy. But here, where there are fewer Mormons, that fact suddenly can become significant.

In a way, this makes me paranoid. Should I be behaving better so that I can be a better example of what it means to be “Mormon”? And what does behaving better entail? There are plenty of Mormons out here who would no doubt say I shouldn’t be watching R-rated movies or South Park or drinking caffeinated soda (I don’t, but that’s beside the point). Suddenly I’m looking at my life in a new light and wondering what are the things I should/shouldn’t be doing. For some reason, doing them around other Mormons was one thing. Doing them when I’m the token Mormon is another.

I don’t know (again) if my thoughts are all coming through clear here. And I’m still not entirely sure what I think about all this. I just thought I’d share it with you readers and see if it elicited anything interesting from you. Clearly, the move from Utah is finally beginning to really sink in with me, and it’s affecting me in ways I hadn’t thought of.

And I’ll just leave it at that for now.

6 thoughts on “Token Mormon”

  1. I grew up outside of Utah, until I was a sophomore in high school. In a way, it was a lot easier to resist peer pressure when I was a token Mormon, because I could say, “I don’t do that because I’m a Mormon.” That doesn’t work when your peers are Mormon, too.

  2. Exactly. And now that I’m back in token Mormon status, I’m discovering I might want to start reevaluating some of the decisions I was making as a herd Mormon. I don’t know what those decisions will end up being, but it’s on the table.

  3. My personal feeling is that if I think it’s okay for me to be doing something, then it’s okay for other people to know that I do it as a Mormon, because I think it would be acceptable behavior for all Mormons. (The few R rated movies I watch fall into this. I don’t mind if people see me watching Pan’s Labyrinth (have you seen that one? you must) or Shawshank Redemption as a Mormon, because I think it’s appropriate Mormon behavior. Some R rated movies are far more moral than many PG-13 rated movies, so I consider that acceptable. If my behavior needs to change to be an example, then that thing I was doing must not have been an acceptable behavior to begin with.
    But that’s just my opinion. I could be wrong.
    (By the way, have you seen Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind? I’ve been told I need to see it because of some similarities with the novel I’m working on, and I’m wondering if it’s worth seeing.)

  4. This is sort of along the lines of what I think, too. I’m just out of practice really thinking of life in these terms is all. It was a shock to remember I’m back in that position. In the end, I think I’m me, and I do the things I feel are alright for me to do. I don’t judge what other people do/don’t do. That’s up to them. I’m getting acclimated to the position again, though.
    And Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless mind is a fantastic film. Literally, right after I finished watching it, I made my wife watch it, just so I could have someone to talk about it. It’s one of the few movies I’ve watched twice in a row the same day and enjoyed thoroughly both times. You should watch it.

  5. Enlightened
    Think of it as that. I remember going through the same thing when we moved here.
    What I learned is this:
    This place has transformed me for the better. After I decided to give it a chance, it became my favorite place in the world. Just be yourself (you can’t be all THAT bad, you give great GD lessons, after all!).
    For me there were great changes when i accepted the fact that “Utah Mormons” are evil and need to be reformed. (J/K) Maine will reform you, Mormon or not.
    PS….What is South Park?

  6. Just finished ‘Rambo III,’ which was sort of disappointing compared to the others. I put ‘Son of Rambow’ on my Netflix.
    – Becky

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