Book Title: #IsHeHereYet: Being the person you want to be with
Author: Dr. Tony Ortega
Publisher: Ortega Psychology LLC
Genre/s: Non-Fiction, Self-Help, LGBT, Dating/Relationships, Motivational, Psychology
Length: 172 pages
#IsHeHereYet: Being the Person You Want to Be With is an extremely raw (and funny) look at the perceived epidemic of being single in our quest for love. It dismantles the notion that there is something that we need to do in order to bring in "The One." Instead, it challenges you to be "The One" and see what shows up then. Regardless of the outcome, the end result will be the best version of you possible. This book is geared toward single and partnered people alike. Through personal and professional accounts of real life situations, as well as thought expanding exercises and meditation tools, the reader will leave with a greater understanding and concept of themselves. They will be able to "date themselves" and create the space to naturally attract loving and authentic relationships.
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Chapter 4: Stop Comparing
“Your playing small doesn’t serve the world.” - Marianne Williamson
One of the problems with social media is that you get to know what your exes and former flings are doing with their lives, sans you. I know that when I have seen posts from various exes or past flings that didn’t work out, my first questions are “Why him and not me?” or “Why am I the one still single?” If any of these questions pop into your mind, you are comparing yourself to others and devaluing your Essential Self. For God’s sake, stop stalking your exes on social media (I should follow my advice, no?). People post on social media what they want others to see. This is not always reflective of their reality.
In my relationship quest throughout my life, I always compared myself to my peers. Part of this was growing up gay in the ’80s and ’90s, but the other part was never teaching myself the value of who I am as a person. It was like breaking out the yardstick and measuring myself up against my peers and the portrayal of who "real men" are in mainstream media.
The origin of shame for me started from a very early age. I always felt different than others. I was always an overweight kid growing up. I didn’t like sports, so I was never physically active, despite my mother’s attempts of enrolling me in Little League baseball and karate (God, I am so physically uncoordinated). So my self-esteem was tied to my body image issues. This is another issue that is aggravated by media and advertising. Plus-size models and “bears” may be a thing now, but it wasn’t when I was growing up.
When that feeling of being different was the undercurrent of my life, the comparing ran rampant. Eventually, I did one of two things: I either isolated from others so they wouldn’t notice the difference, or I would overcompensate to become more acceptable. I rarely followed what it was that I wanted for myself unless it was in the comfort of my room with my nose in a comic book. I learned to conform to the expectations of others as best I could.
Comparing myself to others always involved shame. Whether it was the shame for being overweight, not being athletic, being single, or being gay (or insert whatever adjective or any other condition you can think of), I always found a reason to feel unworthy. I could have achieved the drop-dead gorgeous body or the athletic prowess of professional ball player or even had that amazing boyfriend. The bottom line remains that none of this defined me. I needed to make the journey to work through my shame and stop the comparing.
The most powerful thing I was ever able to do was to drop all expectations from others and begin the journey to find my path. I didn’t always get it right, as evidenced by my years of drug and alcohol use as well as dysfunctional relationships. However, I learned from trial and error and never gave up. Once I recognized who I truly am, the comparing dwindled significantly.
With regards to my sexual orientation, I was plagued with the idea that to be gay I had to be effeminate, have long hair, and work as a hairdresser (my family was in the beauty supply distribution business, so it wasn’t a far-fetched idea). To be a real man, I had to love sports and bang as many girls as I could. When I stopped measuring myself against others, I lost the need for labeling. I was able to make sense of my own life without the need to call something for what it wasn’t.
Another aspect of comparing ourselves with others involves societal labels. Dropping the need for labels is paramount in stopping the endless barrage of comparing ourselves to others. I am now completely comfortable in my identity as a gay man. I am a psychologist and coach. I love comic books and science fiction. I enjoy musical theater. And yes, I am obsessed with Idina Menzel, Patti LuPone, and Lady Gaga (but don’t care for Bette Midler). While stereotypical to some, these are choices I make. I also enjoy all things spiritual and metaphysical. I don’t enjoy sports at all but love the tight uniforms (wink).
Comparing and labeling appear to be a form of controlling our life experiences. If I look back at my life, one of the feelings I can remember is that I always felt powerless. I couldn’t initially understand why I always felt so different. When I started to acknowledge my same-gender attraction, I still felt powerless because I did not have anyone in whom to confide. Instead, I would sit back and just compare myself to others. Weirdly, it made my internal experience make sense. By comparing myself to others and labeling myself as different, I didn’t feel as powerless. I created a reality where, although I felt I had some semblance of control, I felt like absolute shit about myself. I felt separate, but at least not powerless in understanding the world around me.
Who I am is my super power. When I am in my right mind, I know and feel empowered.
Today, I don’t shrink in the face of other people and play small. When I am playing small, I do nothing for myself and those around me. I am much more effective when I step right into my power as opposed to being the shrinking violet.
What I gained from comparing was not having to take responsibility for changing the things I could change about myself and accept the things I couldn’t. The recurring pattern I gained from staying in those maladaptive ways of being was one of taking zero responsibility. It was easier to stay exactly where I was because I didn’t have to walk through my fears and change.
Here’s the crazy thing: Shaming myself was so "normal" that I didn’t know how else to live. What would accepting myself 100% even look like? The concept was so foreign to me that I didn’t even know where to begin. The familiarity of comparison and self-shaming was easier to manage. I knew it, and it was like my best friend, albeit a very dysfunctional relationship. It was like telling myself to start walking on only one leg despite having two functioning legs. I didn’t know how to do that. Mechanically, it appeared easy, but it was different than what I was used to.
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