Did you try to find friends who had gotten out also? Did you try to get others out?
Not until recently. I've reconnected with 2 ex-JW friends via Facebook in the past year or two, and found a bro from my old congregation here on JWN. I haven't tried to get anyone out but have always kept in contact with my brother and fully support him now he's out.
Did you go to school (college/university)?
I did. In fact I was in Uni when I left. It attracted criticism from some of the congregation. I had to justify it to a lot of people with the spiel on how I was living under the watchful eyes of my parents; attending a local University-sector College (instead of moving away to a more respected University); due to a medical condition I was being treated for at the time I may not have been capable of holding down a full-time; oh, and I could always auxillary pioneer during the vacation periods (not that I ever did! LOL). It was the door that enabled me to exit as I was able to get a room in shared student accomodation and move out once I'd stoped FS and attending meetings.
How different was the "world" you now found yourself in compared to living in JW-Land?
Very different, but not in a bad way. I found the lack of monotonous routine and extra time quite strange at first. It was a relief to actually have some down-time, to be able to fill MY time with hobbies and live a life without JW restrictions - even simple things like saying 'yes' to working late on a meeting night.
What surprised you? Were the "worldy people" anything like what the WTS had warned you about pre-exit?
What surprised me most was how hospitable and kind people could be and that wholly unconditional friendships could be formed out of genuine appreciation and mutual interests. A "Worldly" friend once told me that he did not expect anything in return for helping me out one time as "friendship is its' own reward". I still find it hard to make new friends and am constantly wary of people I meet - thanks WTBT$ for my retarded social skills!
I was quite naïve with low self-esteem when I left, and with years of being conditioned to do as I was told and eager to please others, I found myself easily manipulated and controlled by a boyfriend→fiancé→husband which led me into 6 years of hell-ish abuse. I know this was an exceptional set of circumstances and that this most likely would not have happened to me had I not been brought up as part of a brainwashing cult. I'm aware of violence and control occuring in several JW marriages (including my parents') in the congregation I attended so it cannot really be blamed on a being in a "Worldly" relationship. Yes there are some shady characters here in the big wide World, but they're the exception, the minority. Not the norm. There are just as many bad seeds attending KHs!