Tag Archives: self help

WHY YOU SHOULD LEARN TO EMBRACE REJECTION

I recently had a revelation about rejection while I was on the dance-floor in a random gay club in Boston. It was a Thursday evening in July and I was in the club alone. My friends were coming in from New York later that night and I had just enjoyed a dinner for one in a nearby restaurant frequented by Boston’s local gay community. After a couple of beers, a nice buzz settled over me and I was not in the mood to return to my hotel, so I did what I sometimes do when I’m feeling super confident (read tipsy) – I went out alone. Going to a gay club (or anywhere for that matter) by one’s self can be both daunting and empowering. It’s a lot easier when on holiday in a new city as you are unlikely to return anytime soon and thus need not worry about developing a reputation for being that guy who goes clubbing by himself (although there is nothing wrong with that either!).

I casually strolled past the door of the club a couple of times, conducting a ‘drive-by’ to try get a sense of what the place was like before committing to entering. ‘Just walk in and you can always walk out if you’re uncomfortable’, I said to myself, building up the confidence to actually go through with the act. Finally, I entered the unknown and was greeted by a sea of gay Bostonian boys. Another beer later and I was feeling even more confident and very pleased with myself at having the balls to go out alone. I tried to make eyes with the locals (eye contact – a dying approach to picking up in the world of gay dating apps) but received very little feedback. I began to feel a little despondent and conscious of the fact that I was dancing on my own (Robyn reference).

That’s when I realised that rejection is actually a wonderful thing.

To be honest, I hadn’t actually put myself too far out there to be rejected but I had been overlooked which at the time felt like the same thing. Nonetheless, I came to understand that rejection is actually a blessing in disguise. The way I see it is that with each rejection you’re one step closer to meeting the right person, whether that be the right person for the evening or the right person for life. It’s like a game of odds. The more chances you take, the more likely you are to win.  You’re also bettering your game-playing skills with each chance taken.  Let’s get mathematical for a minute to demonstrate my point further. Imagine that your Mr. Right is one guy in a group of 100. The chance of finding him on the first try is 1%. Those odds are pretty low but as you approach more guys and eliminate those that rejected you from the group, your chances get higher. Ultimately, you’ll find your man even if it means having to deal with 99 rejections along the way.

Now, I know that life is not a neat mathematical equation and I’ve probably over-simplified the problem but, in my experience, you do have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince (I’m still looking for mine and my lips are chapped but I’m hopeful!). The way I justify disappointment in love or picking-up in a gay club is through reframing the experience and seeing each rejection as a step closer to success. This is the same approach I try take in all areas of my life. Whether it be a career disappointment or missing out on renting what I thought was my dream apartment or waking up too late and forgetting to book tickets to see Britney Spears, I’ve noticed that something better is always just around the corner.

So instead of seeing rejection as negative or allowing your ego to sabotage the experience to reaffirm your feelings of unworthiness, change your thinking and learn to springboard off rejection, using it as a tool of empowerment. You must also never forget that in the end you want to be with someone who wants to be with you just as much as you want to be with them. If someone isn’t interested in you, there’s nothing you can do to change that so you shouldn’t exert emotion or effort trying to make them feel otherwise.

Image by Vladimir Snezhin

Now read this – 57 THINGS I’VE LEARNT ABOUT BEING GAY IN MY 20s

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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

Steven Klein Male Models

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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RULE NO.1: THERE ARE NO RULES (EXCEPT FOR ONE)

francisco-lachowski

I am a sucker for self help books. I cannot satisfy fast enough my appetite for reading the latest New York Times Best Seller on “How To Live the Life You Imagined” or “Grow Rich by Thinking”. While most of my peers are on the internet shopping for clothes and accessories or looking at porn, I’m trawling Amazon for obscure books on self esteem written by psychologists from Sweden. And looking at porn.

It reached the point when my shelves, side tables and cupboard couldn’t accommodate any more books by Tony Robbins that I asked myself “Why am I so fascinated by this genre of literature?”. The answer was simple, I was looking for a definitive solution. A formula to life. A set of rules that when followed would guarantee money, success, fame, a Brazilian model boyfriend, fabulous friends, a SL55 Mercedes (and Range Rover Sport), limitless funds to travel, an apartment in New York, a house in the Hamptons, four children, a dog, a live-in masseuse and a pool boy who wore cutoff denim shorts while singing “she works hard for the money” a la The Birdcage. Surely if I read enough then eventually I would have sufficient knowledge and life would unfold seamlessly? I realised that I was missing the point.

While many self help books spruik the benefits of simply reciting affirmations to achieve success or visualising your life as you want it to be in an approach that I can only describe as the “fast food” method, there are many books that offer true insight into how to improve your life. The former category is rather shallow and taps into people’s laziness and need for a quick fix in order to sell copies while the latter category takes a more spiritual approach. Summed up rather briefly, the “fast food” method gives you rules to follow in order to find fulfilment in whichever area you are lacking while the “spiritual method” teaches you that there is only one rule. And that rule is the importance of being true to yourself. When you are true to yourself, everything else falls into place. The things that you really want become clear and you often find that they are significantly different to the things you valued before. True happiness can only come from within and in order to access this happiness you first need to honour your truth.

Why do so many gay men suffer? I believe that it’s because for so long we have denied our true selves or hated our true selves. We have created beautiful bodies to hide behind, adorned our exterior in flashy clothes, involved ourselves in bitchiness and drama all in attempt to deny our inner pain, a pain caused by avoiding our inner truth.

This is why rule number one is the most important rule of all. There are no rules in life more important than honouring your true self. Only then can one find true fulfilment and happiness. Some of the richest and most successful people I have come across are also the most miserable. They followed the so-called rules of life which indeed lead them to money, success, fame but once they started living the lives they thought they always wanted, they realised they were still unhappy. To be happy is to be true to yourself. That is all there is to know.

So put down the self help books because I have done the readings for you and it can all be summed up  beautifully in one sentence, written by my favourite author Eckart Tolle:

True Salvation is fulfillment, peace, life in all its fullness. It is to be who you are, to feel within you the good that has no opposite, the joy of Being that depends on nothing outside itself

What do you think is the key to happiness? Comment below and share your thoughts.

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