Were you raised in a strict conservative religious environment?
If so, you probably have some interesting stories to tell. You probably missed out on a lot of what the rest of society takes for granted – from Harry Potter to popular music to the dating scene. And as you leave your upbringing behind for the larger world, you’re going to find just how different you are from everyone else.
My advice to you? Don’t waste this opportunity.
There’s a lot to question, criticize, and discard completely from religion. Religious upbringings can be neurotic, cruel, intolerant, and irrational. That said, there are also some things from religion that can give you a distinctive perspective on the world.
Religion is increasingly becoming otherworldly. You get to look in on society in much the same way an immigrant or a time-traveler might. Unlike your peers, you probably haven’t done drugs, had premarital sex, or blacked yourself out on alcohol. You probably haven’t binge-watched a Netflix show. You probably respect your elders. You probably haven’t entertained the idea of divorce.
It’s not clear to me that these aren’t bad things. In fact, they’re mostly good.
As you leave your (usually) overbearing religious upbringing behind, you’ll be tempted to become like everyone else. Don’t get me wrong – there are a lot of fun and good and healthy things you’ve missed out on. But the things you have missed are also your strength in the broader world.
Because you aren’t from their world, you aren’t stuck in their cycles.
Because you aren’t from their world, you don’t have to play by their rules.
Because you aren’t from their world, you probably don’t fit within their statistical averages or demographic surveys.
Because you aren’t from their world, you’re probably hard to predict and hard to control.
Because you aren’t from their world, you can understand that there is another way to live.
Because you aren’t from their world, you can speak truth and critique society with real power.
Because you aren’t from their world, you can bring the ancient gifts of your community, and (perhaps) the timeless gifts “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” to a world that often forgets its own significance.
You don’t have to remain stuck in the past. But you also don’t have to give up this beautiful different-ness.
Go forge your path, think for yourself, and have fun. But don’t be in a rush to lose that which sets you apart. Keep the good and make it your own.