This isn't your typical article or blog post, and I don't want it to be. If 2020 has taught me anything, I need to tell more of my story and my "why". Meet my twin brother, TJ. He is my "why" for many things in life for a lot of reasons.
Without him, I wouldn't be the man I am today. For those who cant tell, TJ was born with Down Syndrome. As a kid growing up, this made no difference to me because he was my twin. I knew nothing else other than we are brothers. We are a family. He struggles like any human, but we have been blessed with his high functionality, strong spirited personality, and ability to talk to any girl he would like to take on a date.
TJ and I are the youngest of 7 with five older sisters. And yes, TJ is older than me. By one minute. He rubs that in every day, haha!
I have always been a people person. I was in every social group in school through every grade and class. As a person without "disabilities," I don't have much room to complain. But, as I got older, I started struggling with a lot. Substance abuse, partying, self-identity, depression, and suicide. Part of me didn't understand why I felt so lost and hopeless. I would always ask myself, "why do you fake a smile so much?" or "why are you pretending to be happy when you're truly not?"
I promise I am getting somewhere with this story. As TJ and I grew up, I slowly started to notice that he was always happy. Rarely did I see him upset or sad. If he was sad, it was because he was in sympathy with others and their hurt. When I was on the floor in tears as a young and unaware teenager, TJ came alongside me and showed me love the only way he knows how. By giving a simple hug and words of comfort.
"It's going to be okay, bro; I love you. It's going to be okay."
Such simple words, yet they still bring tears to my eyes as I put this into words.
I titled this article "Hospitality Syndrome" because when it comes to the real power of hospitality, human connection, creating moments, endless experiences, TJ has been a living example of that. TJ can genuinely love and embrace people for who they are. I am trying to represent him in everything I do. I see the way he looks up to me, but I look up to him more than he may ever know in all reality.
I have always said that a Destinationaire is "a person who is wired to create remarkable experiences that are anticipated and shared," but TJ is a person who is wired to love, embrace humans and connect on a deeper level than I'll probably understand but I know he can be an excellent example for all of us as we start this new year together.
TJ, thank you for being my why and showing me that I can do so much more, and I sell myself short sometimes. Thank you for being my built-in role model. Thank you for showing me Hospitality Syndrome.