What was it like moving from middle of nowhere Utah, to a bustling city in Oregon? I touched on this culture shock I've been feeling a little in my last LIVE video. I hope you've been enjoying those. Talk about shock, there's something I didn't realize I could ever enjoy. Being in front of people and talking... woah.
Anyway, there's two kinds of shock happening here, and one that was very much not expected. Moving to a new state, it's pretty much a given that you'll feel some amount of culture shock. I was very much looking forward to it. I was not meant for the Utah lifestyle. First, I'm an atheist, raising atheist children. No further explanation needed. Second, Utah has a lot of good intentions, and a lot of suppressed... everything. Guys, you suppress everything, it's not good for you. Stop it. This makes for a lot of... hmmm... how do I say this nicely, phony, surface level connections. I also heard this from a few close friends within the church (LDS, Mormons, if you don't know what church I'm referring to, for those of you outside of UT) that even though they saw a lot of faces every week, and knew a lot of names, they were missing some crucial and genuine connections. How do you feel like a real person when the expectation is to bottle everything up? Now you're seeing how I came up with that Bottled Up Foundation name, right?!
So, funny story, I almost titled my book Happy Valley. The joke, again those of you not from Utah, is that Utah Valley in particular has been joked that it's not Utah Valley, it's Happy Valley due to the amount of anti-depressants and pain killers stay-at-home moms/wives take. Everyone putting on their fake happy face and suppressing the realness of everything else they feel. I now live ten minutes away from the actual city of Happy Valley, Oregon. Haha, glad I didn't do that! There's also Boring, Oregon... which is a whole 'nother level of funny to me. LOL
Back to my culture shock, easier to ramble while writing because I can take a minute to think about where I left off and you guys have no idea that I forgot!
Oregon is known for it's chill, good natured vibe. I love Oregon for that. And it is exactly like that. Before we moved out of our little town-home in Utah Valley, I hopped on facebook to get to know my new City and my new neighbors. I found a group page for the city and silently stalked them, while posting once or twice about "Hey, where would a girl get coffee after a long drive up from UT?" or "Where's fun to take the kids for Christmas activities?" being that we moved in December. Really friendly people, really funny people, incredibly welcoming. What I saw though while I silently followed them was just how generous they all were! I was completely blown away, and now being here almost six months, absolutely nothing at all has changed, I just get to live with these awesome people. Everyone was constantly paying it forward at stores, or food places. Everyone was so involved in helping each other out. People down on their luck looking, not for handouts, but work... etc. Organizations reaching to a community I could see they felt very comfortable in saying "Hey, another night to donate your time! Come to help the homeless do their laundry!". Guys, this place is unreal. If the online world was anything like the real one I was about to live in, I desperately wanted to get TF out of Utah.
People here are REAL! I can not fully describe that, but maybe you know that feeling? Maybe this is just my biased perspective, but I have never in my life felt so welcomed anywhere I've been. With maybe the exception of Hawaii, but that's entirely different. Truth be told, I don't actually know if I want to leave the Oregon lifestyle for Hawaii. That's how much I love it here. Plus flights to Hawaii or shorter and cheaper here then they were in Utah. LOL That matters!
Utah will always have my heart. It's beautiful landscape that I actually miss quite a bit on rainy days, and my family, but nothing else. I do, however, want to try to help UT families heal. There's a lot of suppression going on, there's a lot of secrets. You're going to find that anywhere you go in this nation. That's why the Opioid Crisis is, well, such a crisis.
Guys, I didn't fit in in Utah. I just didn't. It felt impossible because I was in no way shape or form connected to the church, and if you're not connected to the church it is REALLY hard to get to know the people you're surrounded by, because EVERYTHING is part of the church. Every activity, every day... Every. Little. Thing. On the flip side there's an anti culture there. Have I talked about this yet? If you're not Mormon, you're anti-Mormon. I couldn't relate much to those people either. They call themselves Ex-mo's. I was a never-mo (I made that up just now, the ex-mo thing is real though). How do you connect with people who either talk about church too much because it's their entire life, or talk nothing but hate speech against it because of how it wronged them? Can I just be normal please? Can I just be human and we can talk about literally anything else?! Why does this have to be so damn consuming?! Everywhere I went... even my job. My preschool kids talked about Jesus. My co-workers talked about temple weddings and missionaries, and any friends I had just wanted to get together to rail against the contradictions and hypocrisies of the church. And I just wanted to go to the damn grocery store and buy a bottle of wine and shut my door!
Sorry Utah, Oregon is so different, I laugh so much as I follow the news outlets from the two different states. If you need a culture check, and everyone does, follow a news outlet from a different city. Not a major city, any city at all. I might do this myself and branch out and see how people in Minnesota live. I dunno.
Alright, that was a bit of a rant. How does this relate to the opioid crisis? I think I covered that fairly well. There's definitely a homelessness, and drug problem in Oregon, just like anywhere else. Getting to the core issues, which isn't fun by any means, is completely necessary if we are going to start understanding how to battle this. Looking inward at our own culture is a really good place to start. I was born and raised in Utah. My family died in Utah. Myself and my family had no support in Utah. We all took drugs. We all suppressed everything in our lives. None of us had meaningful connections or help. Huge problems! Looking back and trying to understand why, could potentially help anyone else struggling the same way I did, because I guarantee LOTS of people are.