I know some OALC think people leave to seek "worldly" pleasures. That's (1) hogwash and (b) a cop-out. It protects them from confronting their own doubts about the church. The truth is that we leave for a wide variety of reasons, and "worldly pleasures" are the least of them. (If that's what we were after, we'd stay put and repent every seventh day, like so many others.)
That said, it seems to me that strict churches (and parents) actually promote compulsive/extreme behavior, simply because they do not foster moderation and ethical self-reliance. I've known a few who left the OALC and went off the deep end. Sometimes, it seems, the pendulum swings far enough away in order to find its rest in a reasonable middle.
That was not my experience. Nonetheless, it took me years to learn moderation. Exposed to TV, music, movies, art, theater, parties, travel, and other religious and cultural traditions for the first time, I had a good time exploring them. I loved daytime talk shows (such a wide variety of heretofore unseen humanity!). My college roomies found this odd but endearing. They took me to movies and out dancing, exposing me to many kinds of music. (Finnish at the core, I found myself drawn to the blues, the sadder the better!)
Oddly, I did not like theater at first, because I was embarrassed for the performers for their physical and emotional exposure. But later, I fell hard for Shakespeare and never recovered. There is a kind of truth that can only be shown on stage.
Because my first few years of experience in the world were full of loving, wonderful people, I remained naive about danger. I dismissed normal, instinctual fears as OALC-induced paranoia, and took risks I would not take now. For example, one of my jobs during college was waitressing at a Chinese restaurant near the airport. The lounge was pockmarked with bullet holes from gangfights. Years later I would learn -- with a shiver -- that the route I bicycled or walked home each night was where a serial killer found many of his victims.
What else did I explore? Movies. A movie-loving friend (who found it appalling that I had not seen the classics) introduced me to old movies, mostly on VHS, which I liked for the ability to control the volume. Even now, I feel physically sick if a movie is too loud, or there is any threat of violence. Later I became a huge fan of indie movies, especially quirky stuff from other countries. One of my favorites is "Man Without a Past" by the Finnish director Aki
There used to be a billboard on Hwy. 99 entering Seattle. It showed a musical staff without any notes on it, and asked "What would life be without art?" Laestadian, perhaps? was my silent answer.
But enough about me. Tell me about you.