Leaving BYU: I Was the Problem

BYU is an awesome school. It is clean and beautiful. I’ve smelled cigarette smoke maybe twice this whole semester, and it only happened near the edge of the campus. Most everyone here takes their education very seriously, and the professors are really choice. Most everyone is well-groomed, polite, and friendly. Honestly, I recommend it.

But there was a serious problem with my experience there. Me.

I feel like the summer before I officially enrolled at BYU, I sensed that I would hate it there. After all, I was constantly complaining to my friends and family about how strict BYU is in acceptance policies and class transfers (and dress code and housing rules and major requirements and social etiquette and…). But I was sure my attitude would change once I was immersed in the blessed environment of “God’s school.”

It. Didn’t.

At first I thought I was doing something wrong. As a child and teenager, I was positive I would fit in with the BYU atmosphere. After all, I was intelligent, responsible, curious, hard-working, freshly-scrubbed, and, most importantly, Mormon. So why was my depression sky-rocketing, my self-esteem plummeting?

I tried to blame the university. I found flaws in everything and tried to pass off my angst as witty commentary. I told myself I was homesick, adjusting, temporarily uncomfortable–you name it, that’s what I blamed it on. I refused to give my depression a name, probably because I didn’t want to “fail” by going back on pills again.

I didn’t realize until a few weeks ago that the problem wasn’t BYU; the problem was me. I realized that I have a seriously debilitating case of perfectionism. I’ve probably struggled with it unknowingly my entire life.

What triggered this mental barrage of self-hate, however, surprised me: it was the perfection of BYU. It was everyone running around me in a blur being good people, dressing well, getting good grades, serving others, being skinny pretty funny happy. This seemingly utopian university was crushing me from the inside out. The reason everyone else functions so well here is possibly because a) they hide their anguish really well, b) they aren’t affected as deeply, or c) they’re not as aware of themselves as I am.

So this is how I experienced this beautiful, wonderful, really sincerely prime university:

BYU crept around behind me and stabbed me where I couldn’t defend myself. It told me that my best wasn’t good enough, no matter what my intentions were. I wasn’t good enough for a scholarship. I wasn’t good enough to get asked on dates. I wasn’t good enough to be happy. I wasn’t good enough to get A’s. It made me question my testimony of the gospel, because while being in such a Mormon-concentrated area such as Provo, I realized how heavily the judgement of other Mormons weighs on me.

BYU, completely unwittingly, almost killed me. So that’s why I’m abandoning this murderous ship and transferring back to my awesome and beloved state college.

And in an attempt at satire, here is an edited quote from the character Haley Graham in the movie Stick It:

“[BYU] tells you “no” all day long. It mocks you over and over again. Telling you, you’re [a sinner]. That you’re [not good enough]. If you like [having your personal spirituality tied to your opportunity for enrollment], [a BYU education is] for you. If you like [attending devotional after devotional with speakers that are rich, white, and male], [the conservative BYU atmosphere] is for you. Because the only thing more fun than [a racist, sexist, and homophobic environment], is when [you get shamed for voicing your opinion]. It’s super [Christ-like]. And [dating], are you serious? I mean who doesn’t want to parade around [the campus and attempt to flirt, only to be ignored by an exceptionally attractive student body]? It’s delicious. If you like [failing], then [BYU] is the [school] for you! You get to [fail in] your [major], your [calling], your [self-esteem], your [individuality], and your [life]! It’s a good thing I didn’t like [failing]… I loved it!”

Rise and shout… Maney is out!


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