Opinion: To all the people who hate Utah

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It was on my second or third date with my eventual husband when he told me the same old, classic line: “I can’t wait to get out of Utah.”

He then proceeded to tell me why Provo and Utah weren’t for him, how glad he was he didn’t grow up in Utah and he would never want to raise a family here. He had come to BYU about two weeks before.

I’m from Provo. I’ve attended elementary, middle and high school here and now attend BYU. Everything he said to me has been said to me probably hundreds of times. It hurts every time because I’ve truly loved living here.

What I hope people will understand is this: Your Utah experience is what you decide it’ll be. You’ll never experience anything else like it. 

Utah is an imperfect place, with imperfect people living in it. I promise, I am perfectly aware of its flaws. However, I believe it’s up to each of us individually whether or not we make the best of it. 

Everyone is entitled to their opinion and has their own experiences. Attending BYU for my entire undergraduate education has given me the opportunity to talk to people from across the United States and around the world who have come to Provo. It seems like the same reasons people are moving to or visiting Utah are the same reasons Utah-born residents are staying around.

According to the World Population Review, Utah currently enjoys a growth rate of 1.64%, which ranks fourth in the country. People’s reasoning for why they come from other states to Utah varies; the main reasons narrow down to family and education opportunities, religious affiliation and Utah’s beautiful nature scene.

The University of Utah’s Kem C. Gardiner Policy Institute released a report this year which shows Utah is receiving large numbers of incomers. “In-migrants make up 4% of Utah’s population, or 133,000 people, and 25,000 of those in-migrants moved from abroad,” the report says.

I believe the family and education opportunities in Utah are huge draws. The varying, beautiful outdoor Utah attractions are truly breathtaking. These positives make me wonder what a state needs to have for people to stop complaining about it.

If you were born in Utah, what are the reasons you’re still here? I encourage you to think about what you have here and what you’ve uniquely contributed to your home state. Perhaps you’re living in Utah while positive that you’ll be leaving as soon as possible.

A Utah-born friend of mine shared, “I wonder how people would feel if people said some of the things they say about Utah, about their home states.”

Whether you would rather live elsewhere or not, Utah played a part in who you are. 

If you’re not originally from Utah, you’ve come here for a purpose: to reap its benefits. You might have come here to use Utah’s highly qualified universities’ low education costs to your benefit. Perhaps some have come to find a spouse who shares the same beliefs. Maybe you came for Utah’s beautiful mountains that provide great skiing and snowboarding slopes.

Whether or not you’ll be staying in Utah for one year or 20, you’re here because you found something in Utah that you couldn’t find anywhere else.

About a week or two after that previous conversation with my eventual husband, he took a trip back home to Seattle to see his family. After he came back to Provo, he told me he had pictured me being in Washington with him and had thought about taking me to see all his life landmarks.

“I thought about if you were to come to my home, where I went to high school and where I was shaped, and told me the same things I’ve said to you about Provo. If you did that, while never having lived there, I would be so hurt,” he said. I am so pleased to say Utah’s really grown on him.

In conclusion, I hope people can feel like Utah is a place they can happily call home — whether it’s just for a college semester, a couple of years to build a career and family, or a full lifetime. My wish is for Utah residents, native and temporary, to give something of themselves to the state that has a lot to offer.

In the end, you’re here. Enjoy it.

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