The first of three couples to say, “I do,” in Season 12 of “Married at First Sight“ is 27-year-old flight attendant Clara and project manager Ryan (29).
Clara is spunky, outgoing and admits to being very vocal in what she believes in. Because of her life experiences, she has become an advocate for social justice.
Clara shares in this interview how seeing things from another person’s perspective and hearing their truth can change who you are.
You shared you have a passion for social, civil, and women’s rights. I’d like to find out more about that passion. Let’s begin with your childhood.
Growing up we lived all over the United States; Missouri, California, Georgia. I spent time in Tennessee and New York, as well. I was privileged to be able to experience so many different people and ways of living just within our own country.
I have two incredible parents who encouraged me to learn, grow, make friends, and always keep an open mind. I really don’t ever remember a time growing up where I wasn’t encouraged to be friends with anyone that I wanted to.
I had friends of every race, religion, and background (especially during our years in California). I never understood how anyone could feel hatred for someone based on what they looked like or who they loved.
I did grow up very religiously though, which definitely altered my view of socially marginalized groups while I was younger.
Can you expound on that?
I think it’s very common (especially in the south where I went to high school) to be taught to ‘love the sinner, hate the sin’. I just never felt like that sat well with me.
When did you began to see things differently?
I spent my freshman year of college at a small Christian school and learned so much there about who I didn’t want to be. I felt that there was such a cloud of judgment over anyone who didn’t fit this perfect mold. I just always felt incapable of finding someone ‘less than’ based on things they genuinely could not control.
I think the biggest thing for me though, was when I started my job as a flight attendant. I was seeing so many people from all walks of life and really took advantage of the opportunities to travel and see the world.
What was the impact that had on you?
I learned to love other cultures, religions, and ways of life by experiencing it firsthand. I don’t know how anyone can see this extraordinary world we live in and feel like any single person doesn’t deserve to be happy, healthy, and loved.
Who has been the most influential person regarding your journey to support social justice?
The high school I went to was predominantly white, upper/middle class, heterosexual, Christian families. But I have one friend that has significantly influenced my journey with social justice.
Can you tell us about your friend?
One of my best friends for the last 14 years is one of the very few black people [that was] at our school. Obviously, we were taught about racism but I never really feel like I saw it firsthand (or more likely, I didn’t recognize it when it was happening).
Over the years he’s opened up to me about different instances where he experienced racism at our schools and in our hometown. I was just always so shocked, ‘How could anyone say or do those things to someone as amazing as him?!’
What inspired you to move from understanding to being an advocate?
As social justice, and especially the Black Lives Matter movement have become more prominent in our country, I’ve always had him in the back of my mind. I would ask myself questions like, ‘Would this benefit him?’ or on the flipside, ‘Would he be hurt if I did/said this?’ That’s really guided me.
Empathy and having the ability to put yourself in another person’s shoes is important. Where does your relationship with him stand now?
Throughout the last five or six years we’ve gotten closer and I truly look at him like a brother. Every time I see a black man has been killed I would sob and think, ‘What if that was him? What if that was his family?’
It took me a very long time to realize how privileged I was just being born white. [We] lived in the same neighborhood, rode the same bus, went to the same high school, and eventually both attended UGA together. Yet we were never equal.
How did that inequality show up?
I could get into bars that he couldn’t. I could go to parties he would never have been invited to, all because he was born black.
It breaks my heart to see how this country treats him versus how I’m treated because I’m a white woman.
Where do you see yourself on your journey towards social justice now?
I have a long way to go, but I’m always actively trying to educate myself and become a better white person. I do my absolute best to use my white privilege for good and make sure I speak up for those who may not be able to.
I fall short all of the time, but I try so hard to make sure that this amazing friend of mine would be proud to be my friend, as well. I’m so blessed to have him in my life to both teach me about the black struggle, but also to give me grace when I’m not perfect.
Thanks for sharing that. Now let’s talk about Married at First Sight. You stated the personality of your dream man is someone confident. Why is that important for you?
So for me personally, I’ve had a handful of experiences dating men who lack self-confidence. I always felt that it ended up impeding our relationship.
Why do you think that is?
My mom has always said I was born with enough confidence for the entire world. I really feel like I’ve been searching my whole life for someone who could truly keep up with me. I have a huge personality and have really known for as long as I can remember, that isn’t something people always love.
I love being in social situations and really enjoy being the center of attention (shocking, I know) and have had men in the past feel really intimidated by that. Then add my job to the mix (the travel, the lack of routine, the ever-changing schedule) and jealousy can show itself really quickly.
How would confidence show up for you in a relationship?
I need a man in my life that I’m not constantly reassuring that I’m staying faithful and loyal to our relationship. I’ve flown with so many other flight attendants who have to ‘check-in’ with their significant other after every flight, send them the names of who they’re flying with, etc.
Confidence to me truly is the most attractive personality trait. There’s just something about a man being so sure of himself and so confident in your relationship that makes you feel the same way!
Feature photo credit: The First Look Photography