Sunday, December 28, 2014

Feeling Out of Place

It was during our first week in Rome last week that I was able to pinpoint what it is about living in Utah that makes me uncomfortable: I feel out of place. It's not all the time, and it's generally overwhelming, but that's how I tend to feel; sometimes I'm just more aware of it than other times.

There are so many assumptions that the people here make about others' religious beliefs; comments are made - including one made one of my schools - in reference to an LDS practice that I don't understand, for example, at a staff meeting one colleague likened something to testimony meetings - I don't know what that is. Another colleague joked about "telling his [someone else's] bishop." I've heard of testimony meetings, and I understand that LDS bishops are different that or bishops of other religious denominations, but it's these types of assumptions that everyone understands the intricacies of Mormonism, because of the assumptions that everyone is part of one particular group, that make me continually feel like an outsider.

I realized last week that I feel more at home here in Rome than I do in Salt Lake. This was the first time I was able to verbalize, at least internally, the cause of my discomfort, and I'm beginning to have some (very small) inkling what it's like to be in a (sexual, religious, social, gendered, racial, etc.) minority. Unacknowledged assumptions are made and it's frustrating, especially when nothing unkind is meant.

Now, that said, I realize I'm still part of the majority. I'm a white middle class heterosexual married woman who belongs to the world's largest religious sect (or one of the very top sects) in the largest religious denomination so in that case I have little to complain about. I just realized how much more comfortable it is to be part of the majority, or of a more equally distributed minority. There's nothing to do about it; we won't be leaving Salt Lake or even Utah anytime soon.

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