As a JW youth, did you have a shared sense of history with other JW youths?

by truthseeker 7 Replies latest jw friends

  • truthseeker

    During my school years, I was bullied almost every day at school due to my being a JW, and this did nothing for my self esteem and confidence. Compounding this problem, was the fact that I had not a SINGLE friend my own age in the Kingdom Hall, I had no social life and nothing to do at the weekends. In short, I became a social recluse.

    Of course, admitting this is hard, and things are very much different now since I moved.

    But not having any friends in my old Kingdom Hall, did not mean there was no one there my own age. I endured much loneliness from my late teens down to my early twenties. There were people my own age who deliberatly excluded me from all social activities; activities which I longed to take part in, to feel one of the group - in other words, I wanted what I would term "a shared sense of history."

    There was one particular brother in my hall, a few months younger than me. We went to different schools as we grew up, but we were still in the same hall. He made friends with a bible study who then got baptized and then became a pioneer. The two of them would lead the life of Riley, always going here, there and everywhere. To make matters worse, they would invite my younger brother out with them, and exclude me. They would ignore me at the Kingdom Hall and make no effort to "widen out" depsite repeated counsel from the elders.

    I was not the only one who went through this suffering at the time. Years later, I would find out that others in my old congregation were also excluded, because there face did not fit.

    But when I talk about a shared sense of history, here is an excellent example of when you realize you don't click with the JW youth in the Kingdom Hall.

    I was invited to a BBQ a few times, by the parent of this brother who shunned me. My family would also be invited, so I went, hoping that things would change. Of course, this brother and his friend couldn't ignore me in their own home, so they said the usual courtesies and moved on.

    A lot of the JW youth from my hall were at this BBQ. A lot of them would make small talk with me. And then I became painfully aware that I had absolutely nothing in common with any of them. While they would be polite and ask me how I am, how's work, the ball would usually stop just there. Then they would talk amongst themselves about their social life, boyfriends/girlfriends, ministry etc - yet all the time I was sitting right there among them.

    The same thing would happen at JW video nights. On a rare occasion, I actually got invited. But, it was like going to a movie theater - despite the fact that you are around dozens of people, nobody knows you and you don't know anybody. At these video evenings I was ignored before and after the movie - except when I needed a lift home. Yet, there they were, all talking among themselves about anything and everything.

    I use the term "shared sense of history" because without having this with other JW youth, you are essentially a stranger to them, as they are to you. You have no idea what goes on in their life or what they are doing, because you don't have a shared history with them. You don't get to hang out on the weekends with them, because they don't want to know you. So you spend the weekend alone.

    Once I worked with an elder out on field service - a lot of the young ones in the hall were having tough problems making friends. He asked me, "So, what do you think the problem is with the JW youth in our hall?" I told him, that many JW youth do their own thing, exclude others and that the youth are like chalk and cheese. Not only do they not mix, they don't want to mix. Then I mentioned the shared sense of history lacking, and he agreed with me.

    I am not a bad person, I have my faults like others, and I try to improve on myself.

    To put it simply, I just did not fit in, and this still affects me to this day, even though I have moved and my circumstances are different.

    Did anyone here on this forum have similar experiences?

  • shamus


    When you try to do things comletely by the book, so to speak, the only friends that I had were horrible horrible self-rightcheous people. They rarely included me in anything.

    Once I got rid of my rightcheousness, I had oodles of friends. Not one was in my kingdumb hall. And yes, I was left out for some years, and was extremely lonely. I gave up all my 'worldly' friends, and spent my time in solitude. They would go downtown and do dumb things like go shopping, or whatever. Fact of the matter, I didn't fit in with them, I hated it at the time, but accepted it.

    Now woe be to anyone who has a 'worldly' friend! I grew tired of my solitary lifestyle, stopped being so self-rightcheous, started hanging with worldly people, and the witness friends started coming, albeit they were all 'extremely bad assosiation'. Many were disfellowshipped.

    But what can you do? If you're the extremely rightcheous type, and they're not in real life, that's where the problem probably lied, at least that's what I understand it as. People sure were different away from the kingdumb hall, especially the youth! And can you blame them?

  • shamus

    And one more thing;

    Remember, anything bad that happened, it was 'satan' tempting you. If you failed that test, then you were an asshole and bad assosiation. They shamed you even when you would get bullied in school, do your best to be a good person, have no friends, no life, and it was all your f**king fault. YOU were the problem, or so they told you.

    Now aren't you glad that you're away from that manipulative mind control? 'Worldly' friends are not perfect, but witness friends are just wacko's.

  • Lecari12RuleU

    "There were people my own age who deliberatly excluded me from all social activities; activities which I longed to take part in, to feel one of the group" Gee sounds like we've all been excluded by "brothers" of like faith. Our cong. has yearly picnics and we've NEVER been invited even once. Never get invited to do ANYTHING with anyone actually. Was just as bad at the last hall we were at. Does that sound like the way the "true religion of GOD" is supposed to be to you? Oh, btw, I've also had close (what I thought to be) friends and family mistreat me horribly while I was dating my now husband, just because they didn't want us together! How horrible to go through I assure you. And others talk about you behind your back. What a loving religion.

  • Nosferatu

    Truthseeker, reading your post was like reading a piece of my history.

    I had absolutely nothing in common with the young JWs in my hall. I made lots of attempts to make friends, and I actually did make some. I made friends with one who I actually had common ground with. His family got sent to where the need was great.

    Another person ended up moving to a different Province and dropped out of the troof.

    A third one got a girlfriend and got married. Enough said.

    The leftovers were boring and irritating JW youths. My mother noticed that I was having trouble making friends in the cong, so she suggested I take the intitiative. I would invite these JWs over to watch movies. I'd buy all the snacks and pop, and things seemed to go well. However, I would hear about get-togethers that these JW youth would have and I wasn't invited. I would always do the phone calling, I would always do the inviting, but I would never recieve an invitation. After a while, I said "f#$& it" and quit trying. I would go to the hall and just stand there by myself.

    Okay, I just got a flashback. When all of the JWs families went on holidays and there was only one other JW my age there, they would come and talk to me. I was the last resort. This really pissed me off to no end.

    I ended up isolating myself, and working on my music projects in my spare time. I didn't need any association when I had music! Speaking of music, that was also another problem with me finding common ground. All the other JW youth was into Ace of Base and the Barenaked Ladies, and I was into The Hollies. Whenever I told them I liked The Hollies, I'd get a funny look, and they'd walk away. They didn't even see that I was into music that wasn't "questionable", they just saw me as a weirdo.

    The only person I talked to at the meetings was an older guy who was also an outcast. I never saw him go out in service, but me and him had one thing in common: being outcasts. He was a pretty cool guy. Unfortunately, he died of cancer back in 2000. This was the last JW funeral that I attended (and will ever attend), and I was completely disgusted by it. It was a disgrace to a wonderful person. I was bored at his funeral.

    Sorry for the rambling. I had to vent.

  • Annanias

    I was in my 20's when I became a JW. I read your posts and I am sitting here crying. I am so sorry that you had to go thru that. My oldest son always seemed to have a few friends, although for a few years while in HS he was used pretty much as a punching bag. Until he had had enough and fought back. He hid the fact from his mother and I for years. I promised myself that my second son would not have to go thru that, but my ex tried to be as adamant with him as well. Josh used to go the KH and just stare at his toes for however long it lasted. I once asked the "elders" to go talk to him, please, because he lights up like a lightbulb when he was given even the slightest attention. They didn't. For Josh, it is too late, but I would appreciate it (in case it might help someone else) if you guys would put together a "survival manual" for other kids in that situation.

  • HappyDad


    Thank you for the wonderful post. I don't know how old you are but I am a 57 year old fader and ex elder. Everything you wrote hit me right in the heart. For years ........I SAW this kind of behavior going on but was clueless as what to do about it. On the occasion I brought the subject up to my fellow elders.........they just brushed it off as youthful crap.........because it was mostly THEIR kids doing the snubbing of other young ones not "well connected" so to speak. Deny it all they want.........but there is a caste system in the org...........

    I am sorry to say that my own daughter was one of the victims. The PO's kids were the meanest bastards ever. I hated them and others for how they treated my kid. I just wish I had the cajonies (balls) to tell them all to go to hell 15 years ago. But thank daughter has a great life(out of the borg). The ones who "persecuted" her because they thought she didn't fit in are all having problems today.......bad and broken marriages and I am not feeling sorry for them. I am happy to be out and free.

    My advice is to get involve in any type of social program that helps others (charities). I have done this and have been greatly rewarded. Yes......being a dub encourages us not to help anyone or anything.....but volunteering for anything will introduce you to tons of people who REALLY care about the welfare of their fellow man. And you may even find that lifelong soulmate....someone who learns to love you for who and what you are........not what you do!


  • truthseeker

    Thanks so much for your comments, they really hit home. This problem is huge and seems to be global.

    Annanias, so sorry for what your son had to go through. That was terrible.

    Happy Dad, your story reminds me of what my sister went through. The PO had 3 daughters, 2 of them were nasty pieces of work. My sister was considered their best friend, until she got a job and cut her hair. Then the taunts and nasty comments would begin. The PO did nothing, and his wife blamed it all on my sister. She left and never looked back. The elders in our hall would not bat an eyelid. We lost about 20 JW youths over the course of 8 years, and they stood by and watched.

    The elders in my hall did nothing - nothing to help any JW youth. Occasionally you would get a local needs talk about "widening out", but no elder ever set the example, so no advice was taken.

    The parents of many JW youth, I would hear that they would talk about this problem among themselves, but they were powerless to do anything. After all, you can't make someone like you if they really don't feel that way.

    Thing is, when you don't have ANY friends, you don't really grow up a normal adolescent. You start to "do your own thing" which is OK, but then you have no frame of reference because you have no friends. I grew up a kind of misfit. I didn't know what was "cool" or what the "latest" of anything was because I had no friends.

    It was at this time, I would visit the sick and elderly. They had the same issues, no one ever invited them to do anything, have a meal. Just because you're in your 60s, 70s and 80s, does that mean you should not have a social life?

    I learned much from them, and it was always a pleasure to help them in someway, be it get their shopping, mow their lawn or just be a listening ear.

    I recently heard one sister in my old congregation say, that "if the youth in our congregation have no friends and no social life, then that's no reason to leave Jehovah's organization. It's just tough."

    With that kind of mentality, there's only two ways to go

    You either find the friendship you need in the world

    Or you grow up a dysfunctional JW

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