Thomas is one of those few intentional, easy to talk to guys, which made this interview super fun. We enjoyed a few business classes together in college, the best most definitely being our capstone course taught by an Israeli professor with a French accent. Never figured that one out. He is a phenomenal photographer, and used to write here more frequently. Enjoy!
HMHW: What do you look for in a group of friends at this age?
Thomas: Consistency. I like a friend that’s gonna be there for me when I need them, and a friend that I can be there to help through their stuff. Someone that’s willing to roll with the inconsistencies that come with being a 23-year-old person in college.
HMHW: Fill in the blank: I’m a closet _______ fan.
Thomas: I do listen to a lot of Taylor Swift…
HMHW: Do you believe in types?
Thomas: Kind of. I mean, I believe in personalities meshing well with each other, you know? I don’t know that I would say I believe in types – I don’t think I have a type but I also wouldn’t date someone who was flying off the rails crazy. I believe in having an intellectual match because if the way that you think meshes well with the way your partner thinks, you will communicate a lot better and maintain a relationship a lot better than someone who doesn’t understand you.
HMHW: Do you have career goals? Do you see yourself remaining in the same career for the rest of your life?
Thomas: My career goal right now is to find a finance job in New York City. That’s the start of it; I want it to be to the point where I end up in a job that I love for a long time. My dad’s worked in the same job for like thirty years and he says that he doesn’t love it, but he does because he’s been there for thirty years. I want to be somewhere where I’m comfortable in where I am, but still challenged by what I’m doing.
HMHW: Do you feel like you’re held to an impossible standard of perfection as a man, coming from women?
Thomas: *laughs out loud* I just don’t think of myself as anywhere close to perfect, and I pray to God that no one expects me to be. I mean, lately the idea of not being single has been so far from my brain that I haven’t really thought about it. I do feel like I’m expected to be polite, be a gentleman, and to follow the directions that God laid out for how men should treat women. But I don’t feel like I’m having to work all that hard at that.
HMHW: How valuable are friendships with your own gender to you?
Thomas: I used to not have many male friends, and I think it was because it was at a time when I was very concerned with women’s perception of me and the way that I portrayed myself to women. I was pretty immature. Now that I’ve grown into the place where I am right now, as far as how I interact with God and how I interact with the world as a whole, I’ve come to really enjoy my friendships with my close male friends. I can trust them to give me a fair judgment and opinion of who I am and how I’m dealing with the world. With my male friends, I’m more comfortable sitting down and having a theological discussion, and I’ve really come to value that a lot lately. That’s not to say that I couldn’t have those conversations with a woman, but the male friends I have right now I connect with on a deeper level. And that’s probably because I’ve known them a lot longer than I’ve known any of my female friends, but I feel like it’s also because men and women do think very differently, and my male friends understand where I’m coming from a little better.
HMHW: What about your friendships with women?
Thomas: I’d say they’re very valuable in a very nurturing kind of way. I guess I’ve not really thought about how ridiculously different friendships are between men and women as opposed to between just men. With my guy friends, we can have good theological conversations but we can also be ridiculously stupid. And that happens frequently. But coming from a situation where I lost my mother four-and-a-half years ago – and even before that we weren’t super close – I don’t rely on my friendships with women for my spiritual and emotional nurturing. But it’s nice because most of my female friends are more nurturing than most of my male friends; there’s a mutual sense of empathy for life.
HMHW: What’s your definition of guarding your heart?
Thomas: It’s difficult because there’s a detachment between the reality of your heart and the reality of the concept of your heart. I was actually reading one of my blog posts from a while ago about how big of a disconnect there is between my brain and my heart. For a long time, I had a really hard time letting people into my heart because my brain would say, “You’re gonna get hurt, watch out.” But on the other end of that, at heart I’m a very irrational person – I love to do crazy things sometimes. Ideally, I would love to have a guard up on my heart in the sense of not letting people into my heart whose character I can’t really judge, but in reality, I think my guard is a lot higher than that. Where I’m really at is a place where I’m looking for things that make me want to block people out, when I’d love to look for things that make me accept people.
HMHW: How do you make decisions about this season of your life? Has that changed from before?
Thomas: It’s definitely changed. A year and a couple months ago, I was on track to do this job that I thought was going to be so cool. And it sucked; I hated it. And seriously, in the last year and a half, everything I’ve planned has deteriorated. It’s interesting that you said “seasons of your life” because I’ve felt like I’ve been going through a season of spring – everything is new in my life, and who knows when trees are gonna blossom or when there’s gonna be a giant rainstorm. Now, it’s brought me closer to God and made me realize that I’m not in a place in my life where I can plan things out for a year. I’m in a place in life where I can pursue something that I desire to do, but also be ready and willing to go in another direction if God tells me to do that. Whereas before, I had a five-year plan; I knew where I was gonna be in five years. And guess what? I’m not there.
HMHW: Best/worst advice you’ve ever been given on the topic of love and relationships?
Thomas: Best advice came from my oldest sister – she’s a very smart woman. She’s always been very levelheaded even when I’ve talked to her about love and things like that, which is interesting because she met her husband in the tenth grade. I can be crazy sometimes and I can seem like I’m not that shy, whereas I’m actually terrified of entering into awkward situations, which is basically what romance is. She knows that I’m that way and she’s told me so many times to be myself. And if who I am isn’t good enough for the person I’m pursuing, then it gives me a reason to look into two things: first, is that person what I want and why am I interested in people that are looking for something that I don’t have? And second, is this person’s reasoning for not liking who I am valid? Do I need to look into myself and make changes? I know it’s pretty simple, but it’s probably the best advice I’ve received. When you’re a single adult, you’re not trying to impress anyone anymore; you’re trying to connect with people.
In terms of worst advice…I had a roommate for a while that I didn’t know before he moved in. He would go for girls first, and then decide if he liked them or not. Whenever we talked about relationships, he would kind of hint at the fact that you should just go for it and then see what happens. And he didn’t mean go on a few dates and see if you get along; he meant get into a relationship and evaluate after like six months. I’m very strongly against that because I feel like that’s so emotionally damaging.
HMHW: What’s your perception of the differences between masculinity and femininity? Do you think it varies by gender or by person?
Thomas: I think the perception of it varies from person to person. And I think it varies with people’s situations. Situationally, I am not very masculine by society’s definition, because I’m wearing really tight pants and canvas shoes with no socks right now. But I also enjoy being a man, and I enjoy the male duties bestowed upon me by God. I feel like femininity can also be perceived differently in different scenarios as well. So I think it depends on the person in the sense that they have different means of perceiving femininity and masculinity.
HMHW: What kinds of things challenge your masculinity in the way you think it should be expressed?
Thomas: I’d say the environment in which I live. I’m very feminine in Greeley, and seemingly masculine in Brooklyn. I would say other’s perceptions of who I am and the way that I act challenges my masculinity, because ideally you’d let it roll of your back and not care what other people think. But no one does that in my world. Otherwise, in regards to judgment from people closest to me, there isn’t that much. Because the people I’ve decided to surround myself with are those that are willing to take their friends as they are and celebrate them for that fact.
HMHW: Do you believe in the one? If so, do you believe they were chosen for you from before time, or that they become the one when you choose them?
Thomas: I believe in the one, and I think the reason I do is because of a story that I heard about year ago. I was sitting in the Student Center at CSU, and there were two girls talking really loudly a few tables away from me. They were talking about one of their friends whose parents had gotten divorced when she was really young. One of them was like, “Did you hear? I think her parents got back together. They were divorced and things were really bad for a long time, until one day it hit her dad while he was praying. He told God that he needed to be with the mother of his children. He called her, and she had had the exact same conversation with God the day before.”
HMHW: What?! That’s insane.
Thomas: I do believe in the one, but at the same time, I believe in freewill and I think that people can screw that up. I think you can be in a wonderful relationship with your “chosen partner” and completely mess it up, making yourself no longer the person you were when you entered that relationship, meaning that you’re no longer the one for that person.
HMHW: Most embarrassing dating story.
Thomas: One time, my first girlfriend and I – I was about 17 – went out to dinner. She’s a swimmer so she had a pretty buff upper body, gave pretty strong hugs, strong girl. While we were waiting to be seated, we were joking around and I kinda nudged her on the shoulder. She laughed and tapped me on the shoulder. I did the same back, barely touching her. While all this is happening, we’re being taken to our seats. And then she laughed again, swung around, and punched me in the chest so hard that it knocked the wind out of me and I had to sit down at someone’s table who was eating their dinner and enjoying their night, just so I could catch my breath. And she was laughing real hard, and I was not at all. So that also really challenged my masculinity.
HMHW: Do you think you’re making the most of your single years?
Thomas: Yes, I do! My very close group of four friends that I consider my best friends are two married couples. I would say that those two guys have wives who are very understanding of them wanting to do things by themselves with their friends. But there are still a lot of times when we’re hanging out and they go home because they’re married, and I do not have to. I feel like I am [taking advantage of my single life] because I’m moving to New York, etc. Fiscally, I’m also trying to make the most of my single years by making good financial decisions in preparation for when I do get married.
HMHW: Do you believe in the ability to be ready for marriage? Do you have factors you think will indicate your readiness?
Thomas: No. You can never be ready to get married. You can be ready to marry someone, if that makes sense. No one’s ever ready to jump into an entirely foreign way of living, which is what marriage is if you’ve not lived together before.
HMHW: Do you feel any pressure at your age to be thinking about/preparing for marriage? Is that pressure from within or without?
Thomas: RIght now, I feel very superficial pressure because I live in Greeley and my best friends all got married under 21. And in my big social group, I’m the only one not in a committed, headed-towards-marriage kind of relationship. And of course, they try and set me up because they think I should be in a relationship. So I guess I feel the pressure, but it doesn’t really affect me.
HMHW: What are your thoughts on modesty and its effect or lack thereof on daily life?
Thomas: Someone once said…and now I can’t remember who, or how it goes. Basically the concept is modesty in everything.
HMHW: Um, everything in moderation?
HMHW: *laughing at/mocking him* Modesty in everything??
Thomas: Gah, I hate you. I think that women are not modest enough in a lot of circumstances. I think that men are not modest enough in a lot of circumstances with allowing their thoughts that are not fit for the outside world to take them over. Because as a man, I know that if you’re not aware of what you’re thinking and you let things slide even in your brain, they will escalate. I think that’s an even bigger issue than the issue of how women dress.
HMHW: Amen. Cheers to that.
HMHW: What are your opinions on pursuing/being pursued with regards to gender roles?
Thomas: I somewhat don’t agree with my opinion of it right now, but it’s still my opinion. I would find it weird if I were to be pursued by a woman. Probably because it’s never happened before, and also because coming from such a traditional, down home kind of culture, then that would be against the Bible. But I don’t necessarily think I believe that. I think it would be foreign but I would not turn away from it. Honestly, if I were hanging out with a girl and she said, “Hey I like you,” that wouldn’t be so weird to me. I think it would be very weird if I were pursued heavily by a woman, but if it was on casual level then I’d be accepting of that.
HMHW: What would you say has been the hardest part of being a twenty-something?
Thomas: Transitioning from school to the real world was very difficult, which is initially why I thought I hated my first job out of school. Turns out, it actually just sucked. But it is very hard to get used to getting up at 6.30 every morning, shaving everyday, wearing a tie everyday, you know? I had a really hard time – for the first few months I was real depressed. It’s just a different way of life, and you don’t get to do things when you want to do things. I’m sure there will be harder things in the future, but that’s been the hardest thing so far.