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THE MOST TERRIFYING THING ABOUT BEING SINGLE

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I’m terrified of being single but it’s not for the reasons that you may think. I’m not afraid of becoming the gay caricature of the old lady, surrounded by her cats, mainly because I’m allergic to cats but also because I’m not one to think too far into the future.  It’s not that I’m afraid that my soulmate is not out there (although it’s taking him a bloody long time to materialise if he is) but rather that I may be enjoying my own company too much in the meantime. You see, my biggest fear is not that I won’t find a partner or my soulmate but that I’ll be just as happy if I don’t.

I’ve noticed how some of my friends always seem to jump from relationship to relationship, easily finding a new partner with whom they become instantly infatuated. I on the other hand find it particularly difficult to forge such relationships. While some people need the security that a relationships brings to their life, I’m content being alone.  I refer to myself as a ‘social loner’ – a person who enjoys socialising, spending time with friends and making news friends but who is just as happy, perhaps even happier, being alone. As I become older and engrained in my routines and habits, which have rarely had to accommodate someone else, I worry that it may become difficult for me to adapt if and when a serious someone comes into my life. Will my morning, perfectly-timed schedule be interrupted by someone else’s schedule? What if I don’t feel like talking after a long day at work? Or going out with his friends? Or being in someone else’s company? What if I want to be alone?

Although it may sound arrogant, most of the time I can provide for myself everything that I need to be happy. As such, there hasn’t been a real drive to find a partner and therefore I don’t think I have made a particular effort to look. From friends, to work, to spirituality and community, I have created for myself the things that I need to keep me satisfied. What about sex you ask? Well I can find that too, although I’ve learnt from experience that sometimes it’s easier and less complicated to satisfy one’s self in this department. It all stems from my belief that we are whole as we are and that there is no need to wait to find our ‘other half’ before we can feel wholeness. This is one of the most dangerous myths of our time, that we need someone else to save us or we will never be saved. As homosexuality has become more accepted we have adopted the dangerous heterosexual ideology that to be truly happy we need to find a monogamous partner that will be with us happily ever after. What if we never find that partner though? Does that mean we cannot live happy and fulfilling lives? While I think it’s beautiful to be in a loving relationship and I certainly wouldn’t mind it for myself, I don’t think we need to be miserable in the meantime.

My Facebook newsfeed is often full of gay guys lamenting themselves for being single or congratulating each other when their relationship status changes. I’ve always been confused by the latter as if being in a relationship is some sort of achievement that needs to be acknowledged. I think that this comes out of the fear of loneliness which is particularly strong amongst gay men as we have often felt ostracised because of our sexuality. Perhaps this explains why so many of us are desperate to be in a relationship? It could also explain why there is a constant need for many gay men to broadcast their relationships to the world? The over-the-top uploads and updates might just be a desperate way for us to show the world and each other that we are loved and wanted. Or perhaps it may be because we do indeed love that person so much that we want to shout it from the rooftops. The cynic in me says that it’s the former.

Why listen to me though? All of this is just the rambling of someone who has never been in a serious relationship. Sure I have had flings and dated lots of men and even been in what some might consider the early stages of a relationships but still none of these have been worth the Facebook update. Now that I am older and more aware of the passage of time, I’m worried not about being alone forever but rather that I’ll be just as happy if I were.

Maybe I should buy a cat just in case…

Image by Malc Stone

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MODERN GAY PERSPECTIVE: LEARN TO LOVE YOURSELF (AGAIN)

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We are told that in order to be happy we need to “love ourselves”, to discover the joy within and to build our self-esteem but nobody really tells us how. In this personal post, guest writer Joshua Vaughn shares his story about depression, losing his self-love while in a relationship and then the five steps he took to find that love again. 

Life as a gay guy can often be a battle, we don’t have it easy. Let’s admit it. I mean, lets really admit it. You can say that us gays have the same opportunity as our straight counterparts – and yes that is true, we do, possibly even more. But do you think many straight guys have ever had to reveal news about themselves that could potentially result in exclusion from social circles, family or their community? Have straight guys ever had to cover up who they really were in fear of punishment, abuse and rejection?

Moving beyond coming out and self-discovery, let’s look at the gay dating world. How many times has your attention been driven to the topless six pack Grindr profiles? Or how many times have you had to describe yourself as ‘masc’ in order to be accepted by another?

Yes, life for everyone is tough, but as gays, it is a little more complex.

For a large chunk of our lives we have had to cover up who we are.  Once we come out, we go on to label ourselves to fit in, to impress others and to feel loved, but really all we truly need to do is to love ourselves a little bit more.

Loving yourself is a constant habit, it takes work. I have recently come out of a relationship where by the end, I was a completely different person. Walking into the relationship I was confident, I knew who I was, I was witty, charming and an all-round social butterfly. Towards the end of the relationship, I was diagnosed with severe anxiety and constantly in fear of losing my significant other. I was a hermit who lacked energy and on some afternoons I was completely bed ridden. It is safe to say I was a completely different person. People would automatically assume that it was my significant other’s influence that made me become a total different person, but it wasn’t him at all. It was me.

I accept full responsibility. Why? Because I forgot to love myself. I was so invested in the relationship, I put him before me. My needs and wants fell by the wayside. I became secondary and as a result I suffered immensely. Slowly but surely my mental illness got the best of me. I let the relationship dictate my happiness (relationships are add-on’s, not a core feature in life!) I needed to learn how to love myself again, and I needed to do it fast!

After hundreds of Google searches, kindle downloads, self-help blogs, talks with good friends and professionals, I came up with a plan to become the best version of me. I won’t go into the importance of loving yourself, there are plenty of articles on Google that cater to that, but what many articles don’t address is the actual practice of loving yourself. And that’s what it is. It is a practice that needs to be included into your daily routine so that it becomes a habit.

Now this may not apply to everyone, however I would recommend that you simply try it out for a week or so, you really have nothing to lose and potentially everything to gain.

  1. Firstly, know the person you want to be. Create a wish list. Let’s be realistic here. You don’t want to totally transform yourself into someone else. I’m talking about creating a list of qualities about yourself that you want to shine more, to develop. Think back to a situation where you thought you handled it well. Or even think back to a better time. Mine was to be more positive, charming, energetic and adventurous.
  1. Come up with a motto. Like an affirmation, decide on a piece of text that you can always refer to. It can be a goal of some sort. A reminder of why you are doing this. Mine is ‘ Be the best person I can be, and everything else will fall into place’. I wrote this down along with the qualities I want to shine listed in the previous step, stuck it on my bedroom wall and referred to it daily.
  1. Strengths! Everyone has them. And write them down! Keep a strength journal. Every day I would write down my ‘wins’ for the day. They could be as little as having a good hair day, or as big as doing well in a presentation. Focusing on my positives and telling myself that I am amazing made a heap of difference.
  1. Fake it till you make it. Embody the person you want to become in step 1. Think like that person, walk like them, talk like them. I embodied the version of ‘me’ that was confident with who he is. I walked tall, spoke with certainty and charm, I oozed positivity. And after a while it worked, I slowly became that person.It takes 30 days for something to become a habit. This is going to be hard, but trust me it will pay off. Some people may disagree with this step, but hey, sometimes we get to such a dark place that taking a break from the person we are and focusing on the person we can become is the only option.
  1. Treat yourself like a child. Speak to yourself as you would a 5 year old child. Be kind to yourself. If you screw up or make a bad decision, think about what you would say to a five year old, and say it to yourself. Admit that you were wrong, but be kind and gentle so you can move forward.

At this point, I can say confidently that I am better than my old self, I am now the best version of myself. People have noticed and commented. I am excited about life again. I am excited to explore and roam. Sure I have off days when I feel like I have lost my footing. When this happens, I acknowledge that I feel this way and am mindful of my thoughts but I use the steps above to get back on that path.

Remember, only you can make yourself feel loved and happy, it’s no one else’s job.

Have you had a similar experience? Have you had to learn how to love yourself again? Comment below!

Image by Sylvain Norget

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RULE NO. 19: DON’T WORSHIP FALSE IDOLS

TOM FORD STEVEN KLEIN GAY VALLEY OF DOLLS

We are surrounded by false idols who we unwittingly worship but at what cost?

False idols give us nothing in return for the attention and praise that we give them. They present themselves to the world and tell us that they must be worshipped without considering what they really have to offer or what their followers really want. False idols do not engage with their followers. They yearn to be seen as different, elevated, better and divine. They are disconnected from the rest of us. It is only through this disconnection that their false sense of power exists.

False idols are committed to superficial pursuits and are driven by their egos. They appeal to the negative qualities inside of us such as greed, envy, vanity and feelings that we are not enough. It’s easy for us to be tempted by false idols, because much like the golden calf of the bible, they appear shiney and beautiful which is attractive to the superficial and egoic mind. The superficial mind however is never fulfilled hence why we continually partake in pointless worship.

When we worship false idols, we are left feeling empty, demoralised and worthless.

On the other hand there are role models. Role models contribute to our lives, they inspire us to be better, motivate us to improve and engage in two-way communication with the world. We learn from role models.. Role models appeal to our soul needs and although our soul needs are sometimes muffled by the noises of the superficial mind, they are much healthier and positive and when met lead to true fullfilment. You’ll know when your soul needs are satisfied because you’ll feel uplifted, loved and joyous.

Who are these false idols? They are reality TV stars (and their families), half-naked “Insta-celebrities”, social climbers, the “popular” group at school and anyone else who is worshiped based on superficial qualities.

The choice is yours who to praise but my advice to you is that if you’re not left feeling uplifted by the people who you worship then perhaps it’s time to shift your attention from false idols to role models.

Image Credit: Steven Klein, “Valley of the Dolls”

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RULE NO.14: YOU’RE NOT PICKY, YOU’RE INSECURE

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It was a Sunday afternoon in summer. A female friend of mine had asked that I entertain a friend of hers while he was in Sydney. She assured me that although he was ten years my senior, he was handsome, charasmatic, successful and friendly. Obviously I was sceptical but being the friend that I am, I agreed to do her a favour. I met him at a popular Sydney restaurant for drinks and we hit it off instantly. He was handsome and charismatic, just as she described. The conversation flowed and we were getting on like old friends. After a bottle of champagne we headed to a local gay venue for a few more drinks. Being a Sunday, this particular venue was wall to wall with gay men.

“Is there anyone here you like?” he asked.

“Not really” I replied after scanning the room for potential. “I’m very picky”.

“You’re not picky, you’re insecure” he responded instantly.

My blood began to boil.

How dare this guy presume to know me after one bottle of Clicquot and an afternoon of small talk. Couldn’t he tell that I’m confident and self-assured? That I’m successful and intelligent. That I’m the whole package. That I’m just waiting to find the right guy. That I’m…. insecure.

As I tried to reach for a defensive response I was stumped because in that instant it dawned on me, he was right. I wasn’t picky at all, I was afraid of rejection. I was insecure. Behind the confident facade, I was a scared boy, afraid that nobody would  love me. For so long I had hidden behind a vail of protection disguised as “pickiness”  in order to dismiss guys before I even had a chance to make a move; before I had the chance to be rejected.

He’s too short. Too buff. Too skinny. Too gay. Too butch. He dresses badly. He’s too old. Too young. Too tanned. Too many tatooes. Too clean cut. Too hipster. Not hipster enough. He’s not successful. He’s not my type anyway. I doubt I’m his type.

There have been so many excuses.

I realised that I had created a defense mechanism which had protected me for so long from facing rejection. Before I even had the chance to be rejected, I would justify reasons why I shouldn’t approach a particular person or give them a chance. This is such a limiting view of life. In retrospect, the greatest loves I’ve had have come from finding the courage to approach the handsome guy across the bar. But I’ve missed so many moments too due to my insecurities and unjustified justifications. I think about the times I wished I had said something to the guy who made eyes with me in the supermarket, or the boy from Canada my friends brought to the party. What could have been if I just had the courage to say “hi”?

A heart that is never broken dies of dystrophy. It’s only thorough the broken heart that light shines through. Without risk there is no reward. So instead of pretending that you’re just picky or waiting for someone to approach you, recognise your insecurities and try work on them. We need to have faith in ourselves and what we offer to the world.

A friend of mine who worked in marketing for an energy drink company (let’s call it Energy X) once told me a story that changed my way of thinking. She said, “Josh, at Energy X we don’t try convince people to like our brand. Some people drink Coke, others like Iced Tea. We have enough faith in our incredible brand that we appreciate those that love Energy X and it is those people who we pursue. We don’t try convince someone who only drinks Coke to drink Energy X too. You are like Energy X. Have faith in your incredible brand. Know that not everyone will like you or be attracted to you but appreciate those that do. Pursue them“.

This has stuck with me till this day and has helped me overcome my insecurities and my fear of rejection (a fear that we ALL share). We cannot convince someone to like our drink if they only drink Coke. Just the same as you aren’t attracted to everyone you meet, not everyone will be attracted to you. Be brave and be honest and realise that all this time you haven’t been picky, you’ve just been insecure.

Photo Credit: Steven Klein “Games and Restrictions”

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