Jan. 10, 2022

Bryan Kosarek's journey back to his authentic self


Bryan Kosarek shares harsh life events that separated him from his authentic self when he was 8 years old.  He tells his story of awareness, growth, and evolution to find his way back to living in alignment with his core values, passion, and purpose.  We each share our own experience with "mid-life crisis", only to find out that we languaged a similar experience in a very different way.  Bryan courageously demonstrates the power of vulnerability.  If you have ever struggled with finding your purpose in life, this episode is for you.

Bryan is a coach, entrepreneur, and the founder of theUniteapp.com, an online platform that connects students with knowledge mentors.

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Transcript
Coach Maddox:

Hello, Bryan Kosarek I am so glad to have you on the podcast today. I really appreciate you taking the time to come and be a guest. Thanks, Maddox. I'm excited to be here. Yes. Yeah, absolutely. So um, let me tell the audience that we just briefly met. We this is our third time to speak or the first time was probably about a week ago, I was introduced to Brian through a close

Bryan Kosarek:

Yeah, thanks. Glad to be here. You know, you and I both have a passion for supporting people and helping where we can. So that definitely aligns with not only your podcast, but my mission with what I'm looking to do. So thank you.

Coach Maddox:

So tell us a little bit about unite.

Bryan Kosarek:

Yeah, so unite is really built around four pillars of achieving your goals. When I was on my journey to kind of thrive in life and become the best version of myself, I noticed that it was the mentors that were in my life, the environment that I put myself in the structure and the opportunities to grow and learn as well as the community, people that were on a similar journey to me,

Coach Maddox:

Yes, and one of the things that you said that I just really completely agree with resonate with D all the above is that awareness is key. It's the first step you know, even even when you get into Step 12 Step programs, the one of the first things they have you do you know, my name is so and so and I am a whether it's a sex addict or a drug addict, or it's that awareness that an

Bryan Kosarek:

My journey started in a room with 150 people all there thinking they were going to improve their jobs and make money and we all realized we were all in the closet with something whether it was you know, depression or grief or, you know, cheating, you name it, and with 150 people, we're all struggling with something. Yeah. And that's got

Coach Maddox:

we've all got shadows that are are, you know, standing in our way and

Bryan Kosarek:

that's my belief is that we're stronger together work since we are all struggling with something let's just acknowledge what it is. But you're absolutely right. The first step is, you know, if you can see where you're struggling, that is the start of a new path for yourself.

Coach Maddox:

I agree completely. So you mentioned earlier your, your journey to authenticity. So I want to circle back to of course what what this is about and that is How, how would you define what is what is the authentic gay man mean to you?

Bryan Kosarek:

I think we're all born. And this is my belief. But I do believe we're all born with a purpose, a set of skills and strengths that are unique to us. And at some point in our life, we develop a survival pattern, we develop a way of being existing, whether that's within our family, within our friends, within our school, within our workplace, but we develop a way of being that allows

Coach Maddox:

You know, you're making a beautiful point, Brandon, that we are all born authentic. Mm hmm. You know, it's not something that we have to learn or achieve in our lifetime. It's something that we came into the world with, and then somehow it got, well, this may be a little bit harsh, but it kind of got beaten out of us, you know, and for some of us, absolutely, you know, society. And,

Bryan Kosarek:

Yeah, there was a, there's a very distinct moment in my life. My mother was the, you know, she organized the programming for our elementary school. And so her and I would go to a lot of shows together to discover new talent to bring, you know, to the students at our school. And I remember seeing one, maybe it was after I went to medieval times, or it was something though, that I just your teachers are giving you structure and guiding you, but they're teaching from the past. And so then once again, my path was ignored. You know, I didn't push again, I didn't have languages and maybe a 16 year old or 17 year old. So I ignored myself again, I didn't create music, I didn't bring community together, I didn't create experiences. And then you get to college, right? Well, college

Coach Maddox:

Well, and on on a deeper internal level, what was that like for you? I mean, you're, you're literally describing what I said earlier about, you know, the world beats it out of us, whatever it is.

Bryan Kosarek:

Yeah, I mean, I always, deeply, deeply, deeply knew who I was. That feeling was always there. And I always felt I had to call in and I remember I was in I was 30 years old, I got out of a three year relationship with a man. And, you know, I told him, I said, I feel like I have a purpose, I feel there has to be something more than what I'm doing here in this moment. And at that 40s, or 50s, there's I

Coach Maddox:

was just going to say, you know, I just wanted to call out and acknowledge if you had that awareness, and you made that choice at 30, you're on the road less traveled, I mean, everything that you're describing, is the road less traveled. I mean, I've, I've been on the road less traveled most of my life. So I know, you know, there, there are a few of your peers around you that are

Bryan Kosarek:

and it doesn't have to be, I think there is a balance, you know, I think, again, bring it back to what we were just talking about awareness, you could have that awareness that you want more and explore it and do it on your own. But you can also come back to community and friends at any moment to reconnect. You know, I took probably, I would say 2019. So I took a solid two years away

Coach Maddox:

It's been a lifetime for me. Yeah, I can my, my journey, there was a very specific thing that happened in my life when I was I guess, maybe about 29 years old. And and that was how my journey started. And I've been on that journey for 36 years. Yeah. And will be on that journey until my last breath. I mean, it is, it's not something you do, it's something you become, it's a way of

Bryan Kosarek:

way of life. And, you know, you, you were a little earlier than most, the average for men is about 30 to 33, when they have that peak maturity that awakening for women, it's around 27. But for men, it could be, you know, 33 and later before well, and we don't

Coach Maddox:

know, there's a lot of men out there that at any age still haven't gotten

Bryan Kosarek:

it. And that's okay. You know, they always

Coach Maddox:

are our community in general. Now, I'm not I'm saying generally, because there are certainly exceptions, but our community is not really known for a high level of emotional maturity. Back, I think that we we largely run from emotional maturity. Yeah. And so that, you know, makes those of us that have pursued that emotional maturity, maturity, kind of the odd man out oftentimes,

Bryan Kosarek:

Yeah. And there was, I mean, there's a lot of questioning of the authentic self on that path. Because even I went through a stage when I did wake up to wanting more, and that was the year before I left New York City to set out on my three year journey. And, you know, my sister is a social worker, and I literally asked her, I said, are these feelings that I'm having normal, you

Coach Maddox:

yes, absolutely. I personally think it's what you're describing is very normal. You know, I think that we go through a period of life where it's all about us. No, we're working on our own growth and trying to figure out our own beingness, and how we show up in the world. But there's a point where we've done enough that we start to feel like, you know, we have a true sense of self

Bryan Kosarek:

I have now concluded that I have And I have another friend that was going through this. And there's a several year period where you are lost trying to figure out who the authentic self is. And we had read several books that have described it in different ways, but essentially was the same thing. Many people know it as a midlife crisis, which happens around 40 to 50. And you and I

Coach Maddox:

You were on two different pages. Yeah. And that's fine. That's fine. Now, you said something that I really kind of want to like, come back and revisit for a minute, you talked about midlife crisis. And this is like something that I don't ever hardly ever hear come up in gay conversations game in social circles. I don't know whether we could just avoid the topic. But I would love

Bryan Kosarek:

like, yeah, definitely. Um, I think we as a society have created a definition for it. Where, you know, somebody has a freakout, and they, you know, act out and they get a piercing or a car or tattoo and, and what it really means to me is that we were not living in alignment. And finally, with maturity, you realize this, and you are working to become the person. You weren't when you validation and then I realized, this isn't me and I just it felt like this weight came off my shoulder of trying to be something to people that I wasn't and it was just such a relief. But I'd love to you know hear how yours compared because

Coach Maddox:

Yeah, mine showed up very, very differently. You know, I don't really recall any sports car or or the tattoo or any. I mean, not that I haven't gone to school. Car not that I don't have a tattoo I do. But, um, you know, I, when it came there was this, I had always lived in this space that believing that right around the next corner, life was going to be really fabulous. Yeah, you life has been a completely different life since that day, but I and it took me a while to understand it, it took me a while to be able to articulate it. But it was literally the letting go of this idea that something was fabulous was right around the next corner. And as soon as I got to that point and, and let go of all that and started being in the present moment. It wasn't long before. Really

Bryan Kosarek:

So I want to acknowledge one thing that you said, you and I both had a point where we said, there has to be more, or is this all there is? No, and that is a big moment of awakening for an individual, when they realize something's not right in life. And so if someone's listening, and they've asked themselves that question, is this all there is? Or there? You know, there has to be

Coach Maddox:

Yes, I agree. And it's so odd that, you know, in one moment, I'm like, having a meltdown. Because Fuck, this is all there is. And that sound felt felt really depressing to me. And then in the next moment, it was this breakthrough of Oh, my God, you know, this, is it, this this, this is it, you know, and it just shifted, it was crazy.

Bryan Kosarek:

Would you say it was switching from and help me with the word because for mine was switching to the role of a creator versus the role of someone who's just experiencing life and letting life happen to them versus creating the life they wanted.

Coach Maddox:

You know, I can see that aspect of it. I wouldn't have been able to language it like that. For me. It was more of a shift from somebody that was living in the future, still focused on the future to living in the present moment. Gotcha. But on some, on some level, we're just we're saying the same thing, but with a different language,

Bryan Kosarek:

I think. Yeah. For me, that was the biggest moment is when I realized what I wanted was, I was going to have to be the creator of what I wanted. And a lot of people do. You know, it shows up in different forms, I think it shows up in the form of maybe a victim, you know, I was the victim, or I'm living in the future, or I'm just experiencing whatever shows up. You know, there's

Coach Maddox:

Exactly. If you're, as I was so focused on the future creation happens in the present, I couldn't be a creator, when I'm so like, completely focused on the future, I wasn't in the present moment at all, you can't create from that place. Yeah. So we are really virtually describing the same thing, just languaging a little bit different. And I, it would just be so fascinating to

Bryan Kosarek:

Yeah, it was a really difficult phase, because I was in real estate in New York. And I literally remember standing out on the street after closing, or a showing something happened. And I was talking to my dad, and I was like, I literally cannot operate in this environment anymore. Like it was ego driven. It was, you know, working 24/7 it, you know, it just was not in alignment with

Coach Maddox:

And what you're describing is the thing that is so common among people that go into coaching, you know, I mean, it's almost universal. Like, we're wondering how, what is that? It's the imposter syndrome. That Correct? You're so much publicity about, we all experienced that. What have I got to offer and you worded it so beautifully, then and this, this applies to anything, this

Bryan Kosarek:

Yeah. And if that's one thing that designing and building the United app has taught me. It's one and you and I have discussed this, but everybody is a student and a teacher, you're growing, you're learning and you're helping others all at the same time. So that's number one.

Coach Maddox:

I think that's beautiful and I kind of want to stop thought for a second. And really, this is a really key piece because this, this isn't just about your unite platform. This is the way it works in life. And a lot of people don't really get this, they but we it's the duality thing. So, so touch, flesh it out a little bit more, please. Sure.

Bryan Kosarek:

So the second part, to me is even more impactful, but we'll get there. So step one is, is that, you know, we, you can be both a student and teacher, so many of us think that, well, you know, I'm not smart enough, or I don't have enough experience, or I don't have this. So I could never, you know, go into the world and be of service to others or support others. But the reality is,

Coach Maddox:

and the flip side of that is, we also have people who think they know it all. And there's not anything else to learn, they don't, they don't need to, that you don't have anything to contribute to them, because they got it all figured out. Now, that's nothing could be farther from the truth. But we have all met people that that's the energy they operate from, you don't have

Bryan Kosarek:

Exactly. And the one thing I can tell you, and this is the premise for my company is that that person that needs that one step ahead of you that you know, and they don't know, is just as profound as 10 steps ahead. But change and growth happens one step at a time, which leads me to step two, or part two, is an I really, I want whoever is looking to grow, to really take this in. It

Coach Maddox:

Man, I really resonate with what you're saying. And I can I can say right now in my own journey as I prepare to launch this podcast, because you the listener, I'm recording these episodes before I have even launched yet. And it is taking an insane amount of courage and faith, to step into this space to put myself out there to the world in a way that I have never put myself out

Bryan Kosarek:

It is. But that's I think that single part alone holds so many of us back from going and moving towards our authentic self. Because we're scared what happens if we take that step in something's not there. And, and for a lot of gay men, that is the case, they came out, told their family about their authentic self, and the family abandon them. They talk to their friends come out as

Coach Maddox:

Well, and part of our being our authentic self is speaking our truth being seen being heard. And these are not things that we got to do growing up. Correct. You know, we we we knew we were different. We knew that we were going to be criticized for being different. We were already experiencing that. And we had to hide, we had to make ourselves invisible, to survive, as you spoke of are really hearing this, you know, because we're at a time where everybody's on social media doing outlandish things to get attention. And it's a it's not, in my opinion, terribly healthy, I look back at my own things that I did to get attention. They weren't terribly healthy things. And it's, it's never going to get you what you really want, the thing is never going to satisfy that need to truly

Bryan Kosarek:

And think how beautiful a world we would be living in if everybody used social media, and their platform that they have the power to speak on, to speak their authentic truth and to be their authentic self, and to contribute to the world in a way that only they know how, what I don't think a lot of people realize is they, you know, they have a purpose, as unique as their

Coach Maddox:

Hmm, beautifully said, Brian, beautifully, I hope that the listeners are really tracking you and hearing what you're saying, because it's pretty powerful stuff. Yeah, there

Bryan Kosarek:

was one other thing I wanted to say. And it slipped, but I wanted to share it. Maybe it will come back to me if we just talk a little bit longer.

Coach Maddox:

So if you could travel back in time, and visit your eight year old self, yeah. With the knowledge, the maturity and the wisdom that you currently possess, what message would you have for your eight year old self that was at that precipice where he shut down, he stopped being is the authentic little boy that came into the world that way.

Bryan Kosarek:

I would have brought into his awareness into his consciousness, that feeling of what he wanted to create. And I would have said nothing else matters. No other person matters more than this feeling you have of creating an experience to bring to the world that following this gift. Ignore what your teachers say ignore what your family says. Focus on this Every decision, and if I would

Coach Maddox:

Beautiful. So So you, you were really pulled away from that sense of authenticity for a number of years. Talk about?

Bryan Kosarek:

That's what I wanted to say. Do you mind if I jump into that? Yeah, please. I also don't believe that we're not exactly where we need to be at every single second minute, an hour of our life. Because I couldn't have created what I wanted to, until I got to this point. And so when they say you're exactly where you need to be, I never understood that. But I think I finally can put

Coach Maddox:

Do you think that the fact that you had to spend that time feeling lost? Not feeling like being your authentic self, that journey? Do you think that that has made you appreciate where you are now even more than you would have if it had been if you'd never stepped away from it? You know, sometimes we don't realize what we have until we don't have it anymore.

Bryan Kosarek:

Correct? I mean, I'm really, really excited about what's up around the corner. Not only with the platform, but with the dream and the vision and the support that has come into my life. Do I wish that would have come just a little sooner? Yeah. But I do think I have the ability to be more present and compassionate with people now. So I don't think I would have changed anything at

Coach Maddox:

It's definitely a paradox. I look back on my most painful experiences in life, and I would not want to relive them for anything. But I also wouldn't trade for them. Yeah, exactly. I wouldn't trade for them even the most painful things that I experienced because like a blacksmith forges a piece of iron. Those experience forged me into the man that I am today and I wouldn't be the

Bryan Kosarek:

Totally. So I, you know, I think we're on the same page I, as painful as it was, I don't think either of us would have traded it. For life, what matters is we come up, we become aware of what's controlling us, we become aware of where the pain is, we become present with what's speaking to us when we carve out space to be with ourselves to listen. And the rest is up to us to create.

Coach Maddox:

And that usually goes two different ways. You know, every single one of us have had painful experiences. And we have a choice, then there's two kinds of people in the world, there's the people that allow those challenges and those painful experiences to beat them down, and they never get back up again. And then there's people that make a different choice, they rise above the

Bryan Kosarek:

correct. And to me, it's, it's community and purpose, that are the keys to thriving and happiness. So at any point, you could say, I went through this pain, but I could help somebody else. And that gives your life purpose. And that gives your pain purpose. And that community gives you purpose and connection. And that is of itself will allow you to thrive and find happiness when

Coach Maddox:

you know, there is a lot of turmoil going on in our world right now. But one of the things that we do have that we have maybe never had throughout history is we have more resources at our fingertips than ever had we have more opportunities for support our needs for growth learning. And some of it is a lot of it is incredibly accessible to anybody.

Bryan Kosarek:

I we have so much in the world we live in right now. And we are blessed to live in the world. And the moment in time that we live in. We if there if there is anyone that's looking for a blessing. That is the blessing we have right now is that we live in 2021.

Coach Maddox:

And to circle back to, you know, the awareness piece. If we're ever we are living in tough times of in spite of all of the great things we have going on. We're in trying times right now. And the only way we're ever going to get through this is to raise our awareness. Totally, individually and collectively. So awesome, awesome conversation. How about some rapid fire questions? Got some

Bryan Kosarek:

wasn't ready for this. But sure,

Coach Maddox:

let's go. Well, I didn't because I didn't want you to be so I'm number one. When was the last time you cried? Um 30 minutes ago, an hour ago. And when was the last time you cried in front of another gay man

Bryan Kosarek:

huh That's a good question. And most of it's with music by myself. Who could have that have been with my best friend Russell? On my birthday, my 40th birthday. I think we shared some tears together. I couldn't recall the exact moment. But if it would have been anyone, it would have been him. And I think we we just celebrated the moment and my birthday. And, you know, being great

Coach Maddox:

Beautiful, beautiful. So it's a 60 years from now, and you're a ghost at your own funeral. Okay. And there are many of your gay peers present at your funeral? Yeah. What do you hope they have to say about you?

Bryan Kosarek:

Oh, see, this is a script that I'm writing right now. Because I had to leave my gay peers, to go on my journey to become my authentic self. And up till this point, I'll be very honest, I think some of them would have said he was a, he was a selfish person going after what he wanted, not knowing what I was going after what I wanted. Maybe not those exact terms, the people that know

Coach Maddox:

and the question was, what do you hope they say about you.

Bryan Kosarek:

So what I hope they will say about me is that I love your

Coach Maddox:

vulnerability, though, when sharing that that was, thank you for bringing that piece of what you what you believe they would say,

Bryan Kosarek:

I do feel that is the truth a little bit. But in 60 years, that gives me plenty of time to really contribute and be of service to the community. And, you know, with the Unite app, we just launched the LGBTQI plus collective, you know, so a lot of my work moving forward and life force will continue to be with the LGBTQI community. So I think they'll say he went after his dreams, he

Coach Maddox:

hey, what's coming up for you? Right now? I can feel it being the empath. I can feel it what's coming?

Bryan Kosarek:

Yeah, no, it's, you know, being a part of the gay community is one of the greatest gifts of my life. You know, we're a part of such a beautiful, creative community. And it's not fun that to be yourself, you're looked at as abandoning community, you know, because at the same time, it's, you're trying to contribute in a greater way than you were when you weren't your authentic

Coach Maddox:

I want to acknowledge you because this is what makes you a beautiful human being Brian right here. Yeah. This vulnerability, this a disability to really, this is authenticity right here and vulnerability, speaking your truth and letting me and our listeners see and hear an aspect of you that as as a gay man, or as a people in general, were so frightened to do this isn't so scary, to

Bryan Kosarek:

Well, now I can answer your question of crime with a gay man.

Coach Maddox:

Exactly. In anybody that says vulnerability is weakness. They have not experienced true vulnerability, as let me tell you what it takes a fucking boatload of strength and courage to do what Brian just did. Takes a bunch of courage and a bunch of strength to get into that vulnerable place and share your your feelings and your emotions openly and honestly and I just want to

Bryan Kosarek:

Thank you. Yeah. And I just think I know there's a lot of listeners out there, that maybe in this moment in time, they have other types of feelings for the gay community. And it's easy to do in any community, when you're not feeling the best about yourself. But when you truly boil it down to the unique and creative individuals that are living their authentic self, it really is one

Coach Maddox:

Yeah, I think there was a time when if you had said, I got a magic pill, you can take this pill. I think I've taken it at one point in my life. But that was many, many years ago, I feel very blessed to have had the life that I have had as a gay man. And it's been filled with challenges. Definitely, it's also given me opportunities that I would have never, ever been able to experience

Bryan Kosarek:

Neither would I. I'll forever be thankful for that.

Coach Maddox:

Yeah, I concur. So Well, what a beautiful energy that you have brought. So today, it's been a complete pleasure having this conversation with you. And and, and I just want to say that, I mean, I like to you immediately upon meeting meeting you, you have good energy. But I have to say your willingness to, to lean into that vulnerability and share that openly with me, has made me feel

Bryan Kosarek:

No problem. Thank you so much. Thank you. It's

Coach Maddox:

been totally a joy to have you here. And I just want you to hear it from me that you are indeed an authentic gay man. Oh,

Bryan Kosarek:

it doesn't feel like that all the time. So thank you for for sharing those words.

Coach Maddox:

Thank you for the beautiful example that you said. Thank you. Our community in the world is blessed to have you out there fighting the fight that you're fighting.

Bryan Kosarek:

Carrie Jernej Thank you, honey. Thank you so much for that.

Bryan Kosarek Profile Photo

Bryan Kosarek

Founder of The UniteApp

Bryan Kosarek ditched his real estate career in New York City in pursuit of building a platform to unite humanity around well-being and personal growth. The founder of the new platform theuniteapp.com, and soon-to-be app, Bryan is looking to change the way people find support in life when our happiness, well-being and mental health are being challenged. Having built the blog GayinAustinTexas.com with a global community of 130K readers and having won the coveted title as the Gay Travel Guru where he was paid to travel for 6 months to 31 cities, Bryan is now taking on wellness and personal growth support. In a time where 1 in 4 adults struggle with their mental health, happiness and overall well-being, over 25 million adults in the United States, alone, will never seek support or guidance. Bryan believes there has to be a better way and that way forward is together. Starting with the LGBTQIA+ community, Bryan is a believer in passionately creating your life purpose and building community which, not only, serves as the ultimate form of self-care but are also the two keys to happiness and thriving in life.