I grew up with the phrase, "If everyone else wanted to jump off a cliff, would you too?" And many times I'd whine, saying, "Everybody's doing it," and expect a different reply from my parents.
As well, I heard, "Follow the prophet," "Set a good example," and "Hang out with good people, and you'll never go astray."
As a teenager, a young parent, even this young'ish granny, I waver back and forth between the two statements. Be unique, be like everyone else. I think this is where my, "I'll do it my way, with or without," personality comes into play.
I want to belong. I really really really love to be around like-minded people, folks with similar beliefs, goals, ideology, and yet I really really really love my friends who are a smorgasbord of walks-of-life.
I don't belong. I consider myself an outsider. I've strayed outside of the parameters my parents and my religious culture set for me. And it's because of this wandering I have had amazing unique (at least to me) adventures and why I'm not afraid, not at all, to try something new, go down a dirt road, speak to the funky dude on the street, and not be bothered by those whose life-style is different than mine.
One of my best characteristics, if I may shout, is that I know how to connect with people, regardless. And this has played out over and over again in my life. I think my unspoken motto has been, "Be curious, because in the questioning and searching, you will always be amazed." So - many times I have chosen to jump off a cliff, all by myself, not evening inviting anyone to join me (and please remember, this is in the culture I was reared in, which may not look too adventurous to the outsider).
I'd say I was reared in a conservative Mormon home; yet my parents never defined any of us by comparing us with each other or telling us to do something like someone was already doing. So I wasn't blown away when my father's death and memorial services were anything but normal, and as I watched the very strong and different personalities work together, I was stunned at how different and how alike we are - not all Mormon, all with children, not all children are picture-perfect, all with degrees and certifications, many working in the caring-for-others industry, all with open arms and open doors and open minds, and a willingness to listen to the "other." And our children are doing similar. Where did I learn this? From the same parents who taught and reinforced that I didn't need to be like everyone else, that I am my own person, I have my own journey, and so does everyone else.
When I think about the Mormon Primary tune, "Follow the prophet, follow the prophet, follow the prophet, don't go astra-ay," I think I understand what is being taught, but if the Prophet jumped off a cliff, would I follow?
NO!!! I wouldn't. Nor would I jump on to some bandwagon of anti-Mormon Mormon folks who are growing in number, just because I want to embrace those who are "different" or be a part of the popular group of anti's, and in doing so, becoming just like them.
"Follow my conscience (heart, gut, spirit), explore my conscience, listen to my conscience, it will guide my wa-ay."