Happy Friday, y'all! Man, are we glad it's Friday. This week has been a crazy, difficult, sad week hasn't it? We took a small break from social media after the Vegas shootings because something just feels off about posting in times like these, at least to us. Our hearts are breaking and we are in total disbelief. But, here are some ways to help.
This week's Feature Friday is a special one, as she is very close to our hearts. We're featuring Thomas' younger sister Sydney (who you may remember was on our show Down to the Studs) on this beautiful Friday and we couldn't be more excited. We think you'll find her responses relatable and hilarious, and that's just the kind of person she is in real life, too. She always tells it like it is and doesn't hold back when it comes to honesty, which we find refreshing. Thank you for agreeing to be featured this week, Syd! We love you!
Where are you from? Cleveland, TN
Where do you live? Cleveland, TN
What’s your Instagram handle? sydney_claire18
Relationship Status? Engaged to Mary Allison Hughes
What’s your favorite place you’ve ever visited and why? My favorite place I’ve ever visited would probably be upstate New York at my Uncle Tommy’s house. I don’t really like traveling and there are not many places I would choose to go twice, except for New York, probably because it is just like Cleveland except with better weather. I realize this makes me sound like the most boring human being but it is really the most relaxing, peaceful place. The weather in the summertime is mostly sunny and 75 with a light breeze and at nighttime it gets chilly enough to wear a sweatshirt. As someone who owns over 20 sweatshirts (I counted once), sweatshirt weather is important.
Choose a song for the story of your life: A song that I would choose for the story of my life is That Don’t Impress Me Much by Shania Twain because nothing impresses me. Just kidding. I think it’s extremely difficult to find one song for my life because I have a million favorite songs, but one of the first songs that popped into my head, and again I don’t know if its just the time period in my life right now that is making me think of this, but still one of my favorites is Head Full of Doubt/ Road Full of Promise by the Avett Brothers. I first heard this song when I was 17 at a church related function called SEARCH. At the time the words really spoke to me. I was a junior in high school and attempting to get over my first “love”, I had stopped playing basketball (my real first love), my mom had just been let go from her job, and I was needing God and Hope in the worst way. So listening to this song, along with 50 other kids my age, in a room desperate for any type of guidance or encouragement, I found that what I was feeling and dealing with was not so uncommon and that I wouldn’t feel like this forever.
What is your proudest accomplishment? I feel like I haven’t lived long enough or really done anything to have a greatest accomplishment. I have a college degree and have succeeded in a few things here and there but I guess so far in my life I would say one of my proudest moments was being able to take two of my nieces to one of my college classes. They sat through the whole hour and listened and took notes. (They were 9 and 10 at the time). One of my nieces even raised her hand in class to answer a question, without any inhibition whatsoever. She spoke with a clear voice and so much confidence in herself and her answer. I could not have been more proud.
How old were you when you came out and what was your experience like? I was 20 years old when I came out. I had known I was attracted to women since I was in the fifth grade, which honestly was when I started noticing boys and girls in the first place. My experience coming out was not very difficult because my brother (Thomas) had already come out and so being gay in my family was no big deal. But for some reason, even though I knew my family was accepting, there is always that small ounce of fear about telling people who you really are. I had felt like my family knew every single inch of me, except for that one tiny baby part that I had been hiding for years. I never thought I would come out. I had always seen myself being with a man and marrying a man and having children with a man. I knew I was attracted to women, but whenever I would daydream about a family, I always saw myself with a man. Until I met Alice. I had never imagined meeting someone who I felt would be worth coming out for. Which seems crazy because why not do it for myself? I think that’s when I knew I loved her. To make a decision to let my world see the real me because she was more than worth it. The first person to know was Thomas of course, and then I had the conversation with my mom which went like this:
Me: Hey mom
Me: Do you like Alice?
Mom: Do YOU like Alice?
And that was it. My mother then revealed to me she had known since I was in the 8th grade when she read my diary because “ it was just laying out”.
How would you describe your home décor style? I would say I steal my style from the boys (Thomas and Pj). I like to have a relaxed look. I want something very cozy and it to feel like home. Growing up with Thomas we were always painting rooms really awful, loud colors. I think now that we are older we have done a complete 180 and definitely stick to more neutral colors. No more red dining rooms and yellow staircase walls.
What movie can you watch over and over again? Favorite quote from that movie? One of my favorite movies of all time and one that I will absolutely never get tired of is Steel Magnolias. I watched it for the first time with my sister in Atlanta when I was 12 I think? I laugh and cry every time I watch it. I still don’t think Thomas has watched it all the way through.. so he needs to get on that. One my favorite lines from the movie is “ I’m not crazy, I’ve just been in a very bad mood for 40 years!” My favorite character is Ouiser Boudreaux because of how sarcastic and negative she is. Obviously I feel a connection there.
Are you in love? Tell us about it: Well I would hope I was in love if I’m engaged! I was hooked from the first time I saw her. Everything about her made me want to know her more. She was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. I remember driving to Chattanooga just to bring her lunch and see her for 5 minutes because she even knew I had a crush on her. I literally lied and told her I was in Chattanooga already when really I had absolutely no life and would do anything to see her, even if it was for a second. She was always the first person in my prayers at night. When I met her she was with someone else and I didn’t think I had any type of chance. I was the complete opposite of the person she had been dating the last 4 years. Every night I would pray and ask God that even if she wasn’t the one for me, to please keep her safe and happy with whoever she would be with. Oops she ended up with me :).
What is something you wished you would have known when you were younger? I don’t really have any regrets in my life and I know that everything had to happen the way it did for me to be who I am now, but one thing I really wish I would have known when I was younger is that real love will never make you feel like less than who you are. I guess what I mean by that is, the person who I thought was my first love never brought real joy to my life. I can only remember sadness with small glimpses of happiness. I thought I would never get over that person. Obviously this was not real love. I wish I could smack myself in the face and make myself realize that, but I had to go through that to understand how real love is supposed to feel.
What is something that has happened in your life that has made you a stronger person? I have dealt with depression and anxiety for more than half of my life. I have felt sad, alone, empty, afraid, angry, and so many other emotions. Growing up I never understood why my stomach would hurt before I went to school or why it got to the point where I would lie to my mother about being sick so I wouldn’t have to go. I didn’t realize that my fear was turning into a physical pain. My mother forced me to speak with a therapist my freshman year of high school. I wanted nothing to do with it. Those meetings changed my life. I finally was able to realize why I was feeling what I was feeling and how to make myself feel better. I have had many points in my life so far where my anxiety and depression have reached their peak, but there have definitely been more good days than bad. I feel that because I’ve wrestled with this in my life, I can understand other people’s pain more easily.
Who is your biggest inspiration and why? I think everyone’s first and biggest inspiration is either their mother or father. When I was little I would say I wanted to be like my mom, but not completely like her cause she smoked cigarettes. My mom still has not stopped smoking, but that hasn’t changed my desire to be like her. She drives me insane most of the time, but let's face it, almost everyone does, but she is still my model for life. She is the definition of a woman. Strong, beautiful, intelligent, giving, courageous, caring, kindhearted, compassionate, motivating, a literal force to be reckoned with. When people talk about my mother, they speak about her in such high regard. Many people have come across her and almost all have remembered one thing about her. She has been burned into all of their memories yet she can't remember a darn thing. She is the most amazing woman I have ever known, for so many reasons longer than this blog will tell :P