Ever wish you could go back in time? I was 27 years old in that picture. Cedar City, Utah was, and still is, a small town with an even smaller ratio of active, ambitious, single Mormon guys who were also pursuing an education at SUU. Dating consisted of competing with ten other apartments of six girls each for the time and attention of the 20 males (give or take) in our complex-inviting them over for movies, dinner, card games and just hanging out. Young men like Scott (shaken not stirred) Bond who is now married and Mark Willey, now divorced, who had the sexiest blue eyes that made my heart skip a beat every time he smiled at me. Both young men were highly sought after by the ladies but skittish about making any formal dating invitations or commitments to any one girl. "Why date one when you can have them all?" seemed to be their motto. I was never the competitive-type when it came to staking a claim in the Sexual Market of Utah. Don't be fooled by my pleasant demeanor in that picture, I tried very hard not to be discouraged at my lack of dating opportunites back in those days.
Like any unmarried 27 year old, I was scared to death of actually having to go out into the world soon and begin a career. Like the movie "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" our "cultural timeline" decreed that while remaining chaste and virtuous was very important, nevertheless, if I didn't start getting some action in the bedroom soon, I was already an old maid at 27, I might as well be a pumpkin. It was a Mormon double standard back then and, by golly, some things just never change!
The student body at SUU ten years ago was, and probably still is, mainly women majoring in pink collar areas like nursing, psychology, English and (like me) Elementary Education so I knew I wasn't alone in the majority of dateless women. I knew I wasn't the only single white female panicking at the thought that everyone else was getting more action than I was. I'd remind myself how fortunate I was to have a job filling orders at the Wal-Mart warehouse 40 miles south in Hurricane that paid $14/hr. The work wasn't too hard but I longed for something more challenging. I was grateful I could afford the commute (remember when gas was dirt cheap at $1.25/gallon?) but the drive was long and lonely. My weeks were filled with classes in the morning and home from work by 10:30 every night. Weekends I studied, read books by my favorite LDS authors, did laundry, and cleaned house. Sunday was church meetings, potluck dinners, singing at a local nursing home with other young single adults and practicing the piano whenever I could. I was grateful I earned enough to pay my own tuition with enough left over to put something away every month. I was grateful to enjoy so many hobbies and develop talents and hang out with fun groups of people, yet, I remember going to my male spiritual leaders, sitting in their offices and weeping bitterly. I would gladly trade it all for the opportunity to be a wife and mother. I was so tired of this single life. I just got another wedding announcement from another old friend or missionary companion. "When's it gonna be my turn?" I'd wail. Accepting the box of Kleenex I was handed along with some sympathy (I feel bad now for putting those good men in such an uncomfortable situation of female hysteria) there was nothing they could say except to counsel me to keep being patient and that God loved me and was aware of my anxiety. Someone was going to come along, they promised.
Ten years later and I'm still waiting for someone to come along. Oh well. At least I don't cry as much as I did back then. Time really does heal some wounds. But, if I could somehow have the opportunity to reach back in time and talk to that young woman-this is the advice I'd give her, along with the name to remember-"Facebook. Buy up stock, trust me it's gonna be big..."
First, I'd tell myself, "Get thee out of this one horse town and to the big city of Salt Lake and the U of U or Provo and BYU. Drop out of SUU, take all that Wal-Mart money you've been saving and enroll thyself in another institute of higher learning." I'd warn myself that while marriage prospects in the city probably weren't any better, at least I'd have the pride of graduating from a decent school with a higher percentage of career opportunities.
Second, "You know those foreboding feelings you keep having of "is this what I REALLY want to do?" well, follow those promptings and change your major from Elementary Education to...something else." How I wish I could've warned myself that going forward to graduate from SUU with a degree in Elem Ed would lead to nothing but more heartache and very little job opportunity. I was never meant to be a teacher of small children. There was never a classroom with my name on it out there, anywhere. By changing schools, moving to an area with more people (and one awesome Salt Lake County Library system) perhaps I would've found my niche sooner or met someone who would've touched my life in a significant way.
Ten years later...