It's time for another story.
This story is of how being in the YSA (Young Single Adults Organisation) feels a lot like The Hunger Games.
May the odds be ever in your favour.
In the youth program, we always joked about them and how being in the YSA must be like like a feeding frenzy in terms of dating, and how we'd never be like the crazy "I'LL TAKE ANYONE TO MARRY" type of YSA. We always flattered each other as Young Women, and said how the other would be the first to be married, or at least they'd get the attention of all the YSA guys and we'd have to be battling them off with sticks. The Youth stage was so innocent, so naive even, because we basically don't breathe or look in the direction of the Young Men during that time. If you did, you knew you were going to get the Marriage Treatment, where if one of the more popular Young Women would see you even talking to one of the young men, it was all systems go to push you both into each other, calling each other 'Mr and Mrs -Guy's last name-', leaving them alone whenever in a group and making it completely obvious while doing so, and pretty much crushing and bashing the infatuated crush that either of you had into pixie dust for the dreamers. Dating in the Youth was pretty non-existent, and if you did begin dating or going on dates when you turned 16, you were pretty much shunned or snobbed by girls who hadn't been on dates with the Young Men yet. Steady one on one dating isn't allowed in the Youth, so there weren't TOO many issues of becoming boyfriend/girlfriend. It was the simple life, and I guess none of us are really prepared for what comes when you turned that dreaded age of eighteen. You never thought YOU of all people would hit eighteen. You've heard stories of your Young Women's leaders getting married at the age of eighteen, you heard how savage it can be in the YSA of dating in the YSA when the guy goes on a mission and gets dear johned because the YSA girl met another guy at a YSA convention or something and 2 weeks later, they are married and with two kids. You heard those stories, and laughed, 'cos you honestly didn't think that sort of stuff would happen to just anyone.
I can say all this, because I thought ALL of this when I was between the age of 14-17.
Then I turned 18. In the weeks leading up to me turning 18, adults and couples at Church would come up to me and be all, 'Are you excited for YSA? You get to start dating and trying to meet your eternal companion!" or "I remember when I met my husband in the YSA. I hated his guts at first..."
I would brush it off, laugh nervously, and reply - "Goin' on a mission!" and would inch away slowly...like an inchworm.
For me, dating has never been that huge of a deal. And no, it's not because guys not speaking to me kind of kills the dating idea off at the stem. I just haven't met anyone in the YSA yet that has made me literally start doing the, "If you like it then you should put a ring on it" dance with my ring finger. I thought it was that simple! Boy likes girl, girl likes guy, they start dating, sparks, then marriage perhaps? BUT NO. YSA IS NOT LIKE THAT.
I did not realise this until recently, when I had a shower epiphany...but YSA is honestly like the Hunger Games. You didn't realise it, but you were being prepared and trained in your Youth. You were being pinned against each other by your hormones, your good (and perhaps even bad) intentions, your friends were becoming your allies until you had to cut them off like a dead leg if they got in your way, and the arena was every YSA activity held. Firesides, conventions, FHE Nights, Institute, even Mission Prep! It was all preparation for the Arena.
Those girls that you once cherished and perhaps even thought about organising your weddings together at the same time? She has now gone after the one guy that you fancied and has now completely 180ed on you.
The insanely dorky guy that really liked you in Youth but he was only a friend? Now he made puberty his art form and has basically Nevilled himself into a booked schedule of dates and synchronised "All the single ladies" dance routines, and now understands that you and him can only be friends.
That one guy in the corner of the Arena that keeps checking you out and winking at you? He is going to proceed to pester you until you do get married, and even then, he'll continue to flirt with you unsubtly because you were the one that got away (Without using a damn restraining order).
The new popular guy that is, let's face it, probably British or Irish or something super attractive has said HELLO to you and now the loud, popular group of YSA girls are ignoring your very existence.
The 30+ SA(?) who still come to these youthful activities engage you in awkward banter about how they STILL aren't married, and while they laugh with a mouth that's a tiny bit too wide and eyes that are dead inside with bitterness, you can't help that if you were the opposite gender of theirs, they'd probably already be flirting with you.
Now let me paint you a pretty picture!
You enter the Arena, it could be a chapel hall, but it's an Arena nonetheless. You walk in with high hopes, maybe with a close friend by your side who you've probably hand-cuffed to you so you don't have to be left alone with Mr. Creepster over in the corner who has most definitely noticed that you have come in and has a whole mindful of things to flirt with you and his hands are already slipping through the crowd trying to find the lower of your back and to pull you into a really creepy lingering hug. You look cute, but not over-dressed, and because of that, the girls whose main goal in the YSA is to marry, has set a red mark on top of your head as 'DEAD'. For her, it's all about The big M-word. Any time they see a guy, they terminator him with their red eye and check out his stats in their crazed marriage mind and with a potential wedding ring over their head. Because of you looking even kinda cute, you have become their number one target and now you are their prey, and the hunt has begun. Eye rolls, tsks of the tongue, and high pitched laughter with all the guys are all used with their eyes in your direction. You don't really notice it because you're trying to find the nearest corner to sit down in and to get out of the basketball game that has already begun and the boys are already flashing their peacock feathers and dancing around each other in a dance I like to call, "Sports". The Pack of Girls, which you can tell from a mile off because they all wear the same thing and are border-lining in Dress Standards as an attempt to stand out for potential girlfriendism. You're trying to sink further into the corner and possibly paint yourself like a rock to mesh in with the brick wall as camouflage. Perhaps one guy comes over to talk to you, but during your conversation which only starts to begin flowing comfortably, Miss -This Guy's last name- has pounced from a corner and is beginning to drag his unconscious body away to find a wedding arch somewhere. You notice that Mr. Cato-Goodlooking is over there and you can't help swoon unconsciously whenever he passes because he has a jawline that could carve diamonds and marble, but then he has Miss. Clove-Willcutyou hanging onto him like a baby animal hangs onto their mother for dear life while glaring at you like, if you kept looking, you'll be feeling their claws in your neck next, and it won't feel gentle.
That's when you begin to think...
Everyone turns to the sounds. They've heard it before. They dread fills them deep in their gut and someone vomits violently into a corner.
Someone has proposed.
A YSA girl and a YSA are going to be married.
Another in the corner.
One by one, they are all getting married and the YSA groups are whittled down to the last couple of girls from The Pack who have been left behind by their friends and are realising that it's a battle to the death now to be married before the other last survivor in their Pack...so cannibalism begins. You're still just hanging out in a tree somewhere, with your best friend still, enjoying the view...then it happens.
You drop down from this 'tree' to gather supplies (Leaving the Cultural Hall stage to the kitchen to get food) and you hear a canon. It's happened. You turn around quick enough just to see the flash of gold and you cry out.
Your best friend and a guy have gotten engaged.
You hold a funeral and move on, it's all you can do to not be devoured by the pain and possible delusion of how they could have JUST gotten married when they haven't even spoken to each other.
Now you're standing there, and the only guys who are left are -
And you're just standing there like, "Should I just eat poison berries instead?"
Know the risks.
Know the dangers.
Know who are your friends, and who is out to get you.
Welcome, to the YSA Dating Hunger Games.