About a month ago, I woke up with the strong urge to pick my brother’s brain. I knew it would be well worth my while (as well as yours). I typed like a mad woman to try to keep up with him, and we both decided to keep it unedited so that the emotion of his answers come through. This is virtually verbatim.
His frequent absolutism is gracefully balanced by an ability to recognize and take responsibility for his own flaws, as you will see towards the end. He is one of the most principled, black-and-white guys I’ve ever met. He’s the logical piece to what is a largely emotional puzzle of a family. And I think that’s a beautiful combination.
Disclaimer: he knew his answers were going to be posted on my blog, so there was no sisterly conniving or trickery on my part. I appreciate his candid responses.
My Brother, on His 17th Birthday
1. Why do you like movies like “Aloha,” “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” and “About Time?” (Three movies that didn’t get incredible reviews or draw large crowds)
Because they literally are like how people actually are. It shows relationships between people that are normal that I experience every day for myself. Relationships that aren’t always perfect. I hate Disney relationships. I actually loathe them. You know what I hate the most? Happily ever after. I can’t stand it. Movies like that portray real, life love. I can’t say that it’s love from God, but I can say it’s as close to what I’ve experienced as it gets, whatever that means to you. The love that you see in those movies, like in About Time. When I think about that movie and the relationships in that movie, I don’t even think about him and Rachel McAdams. I think about him and his sister. When he goes back in time to save her from the car accident, it literally makes me cry every time. And in Aloha, the love between him… not even just the love, but the relationship that he has with Rachel McAdam’s husband… that in the end, even though things have been completely screwed up, they show that you can literally get through everything. Oh, my goodness, I love Walter Mitty. I loved that movie because it literally made you feel like the real world was cool. It made you feel… that movie, THAT’S why everybody hated it! Everyone hated it, Emily Beth! Because it wasn’t about something out of this world, it was the exact opposite. It was taking you OUT of your daydreams, and saying that you don’t have to have otherworldly, Narnia like experiences. Even though Narnia is cool, it just shows you the beauty in real life. That’s why I loved that movie.
2. What are a few things that leave you feeling satisfied?
Probably doing something nice for someone else. Especially mom. Like, doing the dishes for her and she didn’t know I was gonna do it? That’s the most satisfying thing ever. She’s so surprised and thankful, and it’s such a satisfying experiencing. Doing something out of your way or out of your comfort zone for someone else, that’s satisfying. Another thing, which is a little less cerebral, but summiting a mountain.
3. Based on observation, what makes marriage hard?
The fact that you think everything is going to perfect and you have high, high expectation, and even thought you say for better or for worse, you never think worse will actually happen. You shouldn’t lower your expectations, but you have to be a realist in marriage. You can’t have unrealistic expectations on the other person. But I also know from experience that I know you can get through anything, divorce is never the only option.
I think that what makes marriage difficult, is seeing your mistakes… well, that goes with parenting. But I feel like they should go hand in hand. No offense, but I feel like you’ve really been married until you’ve had kids. Because you haven’t had a chance, at this point, all you need to think about is the other person. You don’t have that child to come in your way.
You’re constantly trying to be trusting of whether the other person is gaining or losing commitment, K? Because obviously, even if you’re not in a tough spot, you’re always subconsciously thinking, “Am I getting closer to this person, or farther from this person?” You’re always wondering if the relationship is going in a good direction. Even if they’re not asking this questions consciously, if they come to the conclusion that you’re NOT getting closer, what are you going to do about that in marriage? Okay, so our family is very open. But I’m less that way, I internalize a lot of things. I personally feel like sometimes even after I talked to someone, openly and honestly, I still don’t feel like I let anything go. It’s still internalized. Sometimes I feel like talking makes things worse for me… which obviously isn’t the right thing to say, because you have to talk about things. But for me, my observation is that a lot of couples just stop talking about things, and they start growing a part. “How was work today, honey?” “Oh, good,” and then they have their perfect little dinner, and they stop being one unit, and they eventually grow apart. Okay, you can be married your entire life and have a beautiful marriage and never have kids. But it’s no doubt in my mind that surviving having children will bring you closer together. Divorced people never talk to each other again. Divorced PARENTS often times end up getting back together. Because the kids are like the glue. There is now like a permanent thing holding them together. I could be completely wrong. But I think having children can keep people together. Divorce is sometimes the necessary option, but I don’t think it’s the good option. The struggle with being married and with children, is that you can no longer be selfish. You can’t just be your own little cocoon of happiness, you know what I mean? You have to look out for so many other variables in your relationship. Which is a healthy thing if you can make it through it, because it will strengthen your relationship so much. The struggles of BEING married, are what make you a better married couple.
4. What makes marriage worth it?
I can just imagine being married, Emily Beth. Like really, all I want to be is a husband. I want to be a husband so bad. I don’t even want to date a girl. I don’t feel like dating is even healthy. I’ve had so many chances to make bad decisions in that area. Even though I’ve done so many other bad things, I can NOT, I feel like that is a cardinal sin. I want, I think marriage, okay. I’m not going to lose my virginity till I’m married. Honestly, I’ve been out. I can say that I’ve been out in the world. I’ve experienced a lot of things. But I don’t even want that experience that. I get sick to my stomach thinking about doing that before marriage. There is no way. I’m not even going to kiss girls for fun, I haven’t even held hands with a girl yet.
That being said, I want to save that for marriage. I think being with a person, and not all marriages are healthy, but what I think makes marriage worth it, is being with someone that you can share all of your woes with. You can come home to someone and say, “I had a really hard day.” But I know that when I get married, she’s not just going to be family to me, she’s going to be my best friend. Just having that, regardless of whether you have kids, having that friendship and closeness and a relationship with each other… I don’t know, I could go on about this for a long time. But I think that’s what makes marriage worth it. Some people think that’s creepy, to be with one person. Like it’s creepy that you would want to bind yourself to one person. A lot of my friends don’t even believe in marriage any more. But I can’t think of anything better. Obviously, it’s a choice you’re both making. You just want to spend the rest of your life together. That makes me so happy. I feel like that makes marriage worth it, because you can… it just… Marriage is what bwings us together today! Marriage is worth it! Because I saw Marley and Me. And I know that had “nothing” to do with marriage, but it DID! It had so much to do with marriage, and relationships, and having kids, and they weren’t planning for all this stuff, but them having a dog, and living in the country, and him having a solid job… that’s what makes marriage worth it to me. It’s helps you thrive. It doesn’t help you be the person you want to be, it helps make you the person you SHOULD be. It makes you feel less entitled and makes you think about the other person all the time. Not just your spouse, but children too if you have them. I think marriage is definitely worth it.
5. What are your favorite things about being the only boy in a family with three sisters?
I have no competition, you know, physically. But I just love that I can, like, it’s given me so much better skills with other women. Like I just notice how so many guys are disrespectful of girls, ALL the time. You guys have taught me how to respect and how to be, and I know that I’m not always perfect, but you guys have literally made me who I am and I think you so much for that. I wouldn’t have chosen a different set of siblings, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I want to emphasis this less. I don’t want to say I love having three sisters because you’ve made me good with the girls. That’s now what I mean. I’m not scratching that just cause it sounds bad. It’s partly true, but I need to emphasize that way less.
You guys are like the kindest people. Women are just so kind. Depending on how they’re raised. Mom has infused into you guys so much kindness. That’s not something a guy is just naturally born with. Guys are more rough and tough and try to bring home the bacon. But you guys are just so kind. I’ve figured out that you guys can show me true, unconditional love. Even though we fight all the time, like I just got off the phone with Chelsea, and we were having the most amazing conversation. She was telling me about her day and about guy stuff, and we were just having the best conversation. You guys have trusted me so much. I can count on you guys to be there for me. You guys as sisters have been so good to me. I just hear stories of brothers all the time beating each other up, and like they’re my friends, right? But I can’t say that I would want a brother. You guys have been everything I ever wanted. I just want you guys to know that you’re the best thing in the world and I love you guys so much. I can be a jerk, but you guys are always there for me and I just love you so much.
6. What are your least favorite things about it?
I have like four mothers. That’s about it. I will expand on that. It is frustrating, you know, getting the same lectures over and over again. Because honestly I know what you guys are going to say. Every time I do something wrong and one of you is about to tell me what I did was wrong, I already know I shouldn’t have done it. I know what you’ll say already. And in the moment I’ll say I don’t want to hear it. But I’ve found, Emily Beth, that even though I do know what you’re going to say, it’s important for me to hear it anyway. It reinstates in me what is right and wrong. You can only do so many wrong things before you start feeling like they’re not wrong anymore. You can’t do wrong things and not have your conscience tainted. This is turning into a good thing, I don’t even know. Having you guys, even though you’re like 4 mothers to me, including mom, even though you guys are kind of hard on me when I make mistakes and I’m belligerent in the moment and try to shut you guys down, like , “I understand, I understand,” even though it’s the hardest, it’s the biggest upside. There is no downside to having you guys. And for that to be a downside, is like a selfish thing in itself anyway. I mean, to not want to take take your advice is a bad thing. The wise man listens to counsel. I can’t remember the verse, but mom has said it to me like a hundred times, but I know the gist of it. It’s important. That’s what I have to say about that.
7. Why do you believe in God?
Because I cannot, cannot possibly think of any way for this world to have come to be. There’s no other answer. Evolution doesn’t cut it, it doesn’t work. Even if I wasn’t the greatest Christian, I would never be able to deny in my life that He wasn’t real, because of personal experience in my life of seeing Him work. There’s no way He’s not real.
I feel like I could never, it’s just about, like, it does have a lot to do though, even if I wasn’t a Christian, I wouldn’t be able to deny that there wasn’t a God. But to be a Christian means you have to believe in Him and have a relationship. If you don’t believe in a God that’s good enough and worthy enough to be followed, then you don’t even have a God to believe in. Even if you believe in God and his grace, and you’re not following Him, then I don’t think you fully understand how much he loves you. As I’m saying this to you, I’m telling myself. Because I’ve kind of thought that, I’ll be able to do all of this stuff and say that I know that there is a God because I’m not in danger. I’ve kind of thought of myself as being invincible in my walk with Christ. Like, I may not be following Him the best right now, but I know He’s real, so I’m good. But I really believe that if you’re not following Him, you don’t believe in a God that’s good enough to be followed. And you DON’T believe in the true God. That’s logic, right? I believe in God, because I know that… I can say that I believe in God because there is no way this world could have come to be through evolution and I know there’s only one explanation in my mind and that’s God. But to truly believe that there is a God, you have to have a personal relationship with him. And if you don’t have a personal relationship with him, then you don’t truly believe in him.
8. Why do you believe in Jesus?
There are people that believe in God that don’t believe in Jesus. But, I think that you either… okay, I hate, this is another thing that I can’t stand in people. And I value people that don’t ride the fence. PICK A SIDE. I want you to be hot or cold! I can’t stand lukewarm people! And I’m thinking about this right now, saying, “Have I been like that?” And I can honestly say I’ve believed in a God my whole life, but when I was disobeying him, I was deliberately doing it. And I know that sounds bad, but I wasn’t justifying it. You’re either 100% in, or 100% out. And if you believe in God, then you should believe in the Bible. It’s literally his story. If you believe in God, and you believe in the Bible, then you should believe in Jesus. You have to accept it at face value. You can’t just pick and choose. Either it’s 100% right, or 100% wrong. You can’t take a formula and say, “I don’t like this plus sign, so I’m going to make it a minus sign,” and have it still equal the same thing. Even though they’re the trinity, they’re one and the same. It sounds cheesy to say that because I believe in God, I believe in Jesus. But on the other hand, what do you honestly have? They’re all tied together. Either you believe the whole thing, or your accept none of it. You can’t pick and choose.
9. What career do you want to be successful in?
I want to be successful in aviation. I really want to be a bush pilot and I’ve been talking to a friend’s dad, and the more and more I talk to him, the more it’s looking like it could really happen. He has huge connections in Alaska and he says he could set me up with an instructor. After I get my private pilot, all I have to do is get my hours and then later my commercial. After I get those, he could give me a recommendation to work for an airline in Alaska, and I could be a bush pilot up there. That’s literally my dream, I’m getting butterflies in my stomach right now! You don’t even understand! I just want to get in a Cessna 132 and take off, fly all sideways the entire way, and land on a little dirt strip. And I know I can. I was thinking like, “Why would they ever hire me?” But connections are everything, and this guy could recommend me for a job. If I had business for a major in college, I could be saving up my hours in college, and by the time I graduate, I could eventually start my own aviation business. What if I like own my own airline, Emily Beth? That is all I want to do. That is my dream. I know that puts a lot of other things on hold, like if I had a girlfriend. What, I’d be in Alaska flying? But I think it would really be a good thing for me. Honestly, everybody wants to have money. But I don’t feel the need to just try to become a billionaire. I just don’t have the need. I’m doing fine right now, with all the stuff I have in my room. I’m perfectly happy. So to be making money doing my job, it doesn’t even have to be a lot of money. But doing something I love, I can’t imagine something I want to do more than flying a plane. And it doesn’t even have to be aviation, I think that everyone should do the career that they WANT to do, not the career that they want to do for MONEY. People that seek our money are way less happy than people that people that are doing jobs that they love. All day every day, you’ll be happier if you’re doing what you love.
10. Is this career different than a job you feel like you would be good at, or are qualified for based on your strengths or personality?
Nope! It literally matches everything about my strengths, personality, and about everything I want to do. It’s literally the trifecta, Emily Beth! It’s perfect for me…. Mom’s gonna kill me. Hey, I would rather die in a plane crash than from cancer when a nuclear bomb goes off somewhere in America cause Russia had a fit.
11. How should girls respond when we receive compliments?
I’m gonna start with how a girl shouldn’t take a compliment. She shouldn’t shoot it down or disagree with the compliment. For instance, “You have a pretty voice.” She replies, “No I don’t!” And because, there is a because, you always know that they have a good voice, and they’re really just fishing for more of a compliment or a secondary compliment. People think it’s modesty… there’s no such thing as modesty. It doesn’t exist. I have been really selfish when I say I don’t have a really good voice. I will say, that I don’t enjoy singing. I really just don’t. But. Girls should respond to receiving a compliment with two words. Thank you. It doesn’t have to be thank you, but anything that means the same thing. If it’s a sincere compliment, obviously you’ll be able to tell if it’s sarcastic, but any sincere compliment should be met with gratitude, straight up. It makes the complimenter feel satisfied about complimenting them. If you compliment a girl and she fishes for another compliment you’re like, “Yuck, why did I even compliment her. Trying to convince them, in front of other people, is so dumb. So you should definitely, definitely meet any compliment with straight up gratitude and thanks.
12. If you were a famous, A-list movie star, do you think you would get tired of fans wanting to get their picture taken with you?
Yes. I would get tired of it in a week, probably. But it would be selfish of me. Don’t choose the career of being an actor if you’re not willing to take a picture with a fan. You shouldn’t be an actor if you’re not willing to be nice to your fans. You know what I mean? What’s the point of being an actor. They’re the whole point. I personally think acting is a horrible career, I would never do it. And kid actors, man. I love movies, but literally thinking about the whole acting thing makes me sick to my stomach. Because it’s kinda like playing with fire. You know what I mean? You can get a little bit of warmth and that’s good, but you get too close and it’s going to burn you. I’m not talking about your fans, I’m talking about you as an actor. I don’t think it’s a healthy thing1) to be always portraying yourself as someone else, and 2) no matter how modest you think you can be, it’s gonna get to your head. It always does. It’s impossible for compliments not to go to your head, Emily Beth. It’s impossible.
13. Do you think in that situation that it is inevitable to become jaded? In the context of the question above?
I will say that it’s very hard, in that situation, to not become jaded. I think it’s possible, but very hard. How can I know, I’m not an actor… I’ve never experience this. It seems like, the actors, after a while when the compliment start going to their heads and they start to think more of themselves, they start to be less kind to their fans. It’s especially hard for child actors or celebrities. Justin Bieber is jaded. That’s just an example. I don’t think it’s inevitable. This is a very hard question, Emily Beth.
14. What are some of the greatest struggles of motherhood?
Watching your kids grow up and no longer needing you in the same way that they did when they were young. At first, all you want is for your children to be more independent. You don’t want to have to wake up every 2 hours to feed them or change their diapers 3 times a day. You want them to be less dependent. But as they grow up, you realize that all you want is for them to rely on you and to need you. This is just from my observation. Like when you got married. Obviously she’s so happy for you, but you no longer need her. Now when you keep in touch, it’s not exactly because you need it, it’s because you want it. But it’s inevitable that your children will grow up and not need you. A mother’s fear is that if you tell your children all of your mistakes, they will use you as an excuse to make those mistakes themselves. But I can honestly say that any mistake I’ve ever made was purely my own poor decision.
Mom’s also just want their children to be happy. And children can be SO UNGRATEFUL. We don’t think about how hard our parents work. That’s the struggle of motherhood. Not being thanked or appreciated enough. Sometimes you’re going to feel all alone because you’ll do all of these things with your kids and they’ll be like, “Thanks Mom,” and then run off with their friends. But I just hope mom knows that I just couldn’t be more thankful. You know?
15. What are some of the greatest struggles of fatherhood?
Being brought out of your comfort zone so much. Like so much. You have what you’re used to as a guy, like what you know, and how life normally is for you, and it gets changed so drastically and literally you can’t be selfish at all and be a good father. Any guy that had like any sense of wanting to hold on to his, not his “manhood,” but you know what I mean… that is a struggle. That would be a struggle for me. Completely, COMPLETELY be there and be the father than I, or any guy, needs to be.
I think it’s different from motherhood because it, it doesn’t come easier to them, the struggle is just as hard, they have to drag themselves out of bed. The struggle is real every day. But I think they’re able to focus more. Like a mother would usually be the one to step up in a situation and care for a baby or child and I feel like that doesn’t happen a lot of the time with the husbands. Really all I know how to say is that mothers are awesome. Okay, the difference between motherhood and fatherhood is that if motherhood is come about through marriage and the right way, it should mature you a lot. But I have a feeling that father’s don’t gain the same maturity that a mother does right when she has her child until several years later. The second a woman finds out she’s pregnant, she has to start making decisions that change her life. But that happens later for a guy. He doesn’t have to be as plugged in as the woman does. I’m not saying that’s a good thing, that’s a bad thing. But it takes a lot more maturing for a guy. Fathers feel less physically and emotionally attached for obvious reasons. But bottom line, mothers are AWESOME.
16. If you could say one thing to your grandchildren, what would it be?
The less you talk, the more people think you know. I’m pretty young still though, so that wouldn’t necessarily be what I actually say to them when I am a grandparent. It’s still good advice, but I haven’t learned everything there is to learn yet. I’d still probably add that in though.
Keep true friends close. Don’t try to be someone you’re not. Never try to be someone you’re not.
17. What do you value most?
Integrity. Honestly, I would value a stripper being honest with me about being a stripper than some guy, I don’t even know how to say this, just, people can’t pretend to be someone you’re not. Fake people irk me. I guess I just really value integrity. I don’t really know how to say this. For instance. I have a friend that acts like a goody-two-shoes around everyone he thinks that matters to, but as long as he gets around other guys, he’s a totally different thing. I can’t pretend to be someone that I’m not. Respect is different than pretending to be a certain way to impress someone. My friends like that, I respect them and they know I’m a nice, respectful guy. But I don’t buddy up to them. I’m pretty sure they know how I feel about them. I’m not a perfect guy, but I AM nice to everyone. I really try to be nice to everyone. Everyone. I can’t stand two-faced people. I’m going to be nice to someone no matter how hot they are, or how popular they are or aren’t, or anything like that.
These guys, earlier in the year, wouldn’t even associate with me, because they weren’t sure if I would even be cool or not. But as soon as they realized I was kind of “in,” they were all buddy-buddy. But I know that if I weren’t friends with the right people, they wouldn’t give me the time of day. People that give others the time of day, no matter who they are, is something I value so much.
That being said, I’m not just going to hang out with a drunkard because he’s just who he is and is straight up, that’s not what I mean. But it valuable to be who you are, and to be kind, no matter who it is.
I’ve also chosen friends that accept me for the way I am, and I don’t feel like I have to be a different person around them. I know that if I give someone a hug that isn’t the “coolest” kid, they’re going to totally be on board and not think any more or less of me because they’re just nice, kind people.
18. How do you feel about the fact that it’s often true that the things that bother us most, are often things that we struggle with ourselves?
I think that’s VERY true. I think about that every time I have a conversation like this. I can’t stand people that are fake, and I for SURE have struggled with that. I’ve had experiences in my life where I learned my lesson. Times when I’ve picked out the coolest people in a crowd, and tried to be just like them… bullied people, been terrible… then I saw myself for who I was and it was disgusting to me, so when I made the choice to not be like that, they all seriously turned on me and it was the worst time of my life. I was so bullied. But honestly, I was so mean. I was so fake. I would say I’d done stuff I’ve never seen before just to be cool with those guys. I didn’t want to be bullied, so I‘d bully others with them. So then in a way, I feel like I’ve already learned my lesson with that. So yes, I do believe that you hate the things that you struggle with the most.
19. Is love everything?
I will say love is the most important thing. I won’t say it’s everything, though. And I could be completely wrong, honestly. But I think that love, mixed with integrity and faith, is everything.
(Told my brother these were beautiful responses… His reply: “I don’t know about that, but I do know that they were completely honest. I don’t have all the answers, but I do know that’s what I believe. I love you.”)