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Angela Trusty answers a question from a reader who feels that he can make friends easier when he doesn't obey the commandments.

Dear Angela: I’ve been a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for my whole life and have always had a strong testimony. I’ve also always been a bit socially awkward, never had very many friends, and have struggled to feel like I fit in. Since I’ve been away at school (freshman year) I’ve let go of the commandments and I’ve found that things are much easier. I have friends, drinking helps me loosen up and have a common way to connect with people, and I’m not the “awkward, different, Mormon kid.” I know I should feel guilty, and I did at first, but now it just feels normal. Is it really so bad if this new lifestyle makes things easier?

— Away from Home

Dear Away from Home: This is a tough question. I believe at some point anyone who is trying to accomplish anything difficult will find themselves looking at the discipline, hard work and sacrifice required and wonder — is this worth it? Ultimately, only you can answer this question for yourself.

My advice to you is to zoom out from the everyday realities of life for a moment and consider your long-term goals. You mentioned that you’ve always had a strong testimony — of what do you have a testimony? How has this testimony served you in the past? How do you hope it will serve you in the future? Where do you hope to be two, five, even 10 years from now? And lastly, what daily decisions will get you there? If the answers to these questions make you re-think some of your current choices — then perhaps it's time to make some goals to change!

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Whether your challenge is staying faithful to the gospel, to your career goals, to a marriage, or even a workout routine — taking time to reflect on the larger picture can give you the courage and power to stay on track.

One last thing: Even if you feel like a socially awkward person, there are friends to be had who can provide you with the sociality that you need and support you in keeping the commandments. Pray that the Lord will lead you to them and lead them to you.

— Love, Angela

Readers: Have you ever experienced this challenge? If so, how would you advise Away from Home?