I got invited as a +1 to someone's house yesterday to watch the fireworks. I'd never met the hosts, and it seemed that most of the people in the group only knew one or two other people there. Yet I felt more genuine friendship from everyone there than I ever felt at any JW gathering. It's not the first time I've experienced something like this since leaving the cult and the true extent to which we were lied to in the cult really struck me. We were told that we could go anywhere and if we found JWs we'd be among friends and that this was something unique to JWs - the rest of the world was out to get us and would take advantage. But it seems, now, that quite the opposite is true. I'm not an especially outgoing person, but literally every single time I've engaged in conversation with a stranger, I've received more genuine interest and friendliness than I ever remember feeling in the cult, even with very close friends. Adding to that the fact that, sure, if you met another JW you could be reasonably sure they'd be nice people (this, I'm learning, is just a rule of people in general - being a JW is orthogonal to friendliness at best, but I now think JWs tend to be at least slightly less friendly than average) but with another JW (even your best friend) you had to be constantly on guard to make sure the cult mask didn't slip off lest their friendliness evaporate in an instant.
So for those out there that are currently struggling with leaving, or those lurkers that are having doubts or anxieties about "where else will I go" - take note. It's been just shy of 2 years since I was able to really fully separate myself from the cult and I'm discovering just how great life can be when you're allowed to be yourself. You can do it, and it's completely worth it. And you're not alone - both in the sense that there are many others like you dealing with the same challenges, but also there's a world full of really friendly, welcoming people that are genuinely interested in what makes you who you are instead of the false interest you get from JWs that only want to hear you follow the approved script. People are nice and life is awesome. Go live!