Nov. 8, 2022

Andrew O'Malley refuses to conform and comes back to his childhood authenticity

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My guest, Andrew O'Malley, shares how free he was to completely express himself as a child.  His parents never expected his to conform in any way.  But then, as he got older and went to school, the pressure to conform became so strong, that he succumbed, living life as other's expected for over a decade.  His journey back to his authentic self was filled with challenges that has brought his noticeable wisdom for a 28 year old.  If you are tired of conforming to the expectations of others and you would like to lean into expressing yourself more authentically, this episode is for you.

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Coach Maddox  0:02  
Hello, Andrew O'Malley. Boy, that is an Irish name. Welcome to The Authentic Gay Man Podcast. I'm glad to have you here, sir.

Andrew O'Malley  0:13  
Thank you, Maddox. I'm excited, happy and grateful to be here as well. How are you doing today?

Coach Maddox  0:20  
I'm doing great. I've had a little bit of a rush of a day today. But I'm putting a bow on it here in a little bit. And everything's unfolded pretty smoothly and perfectly. So I got a smile on my face. Thanks so much for asking. So why don't you tell the listeners how you and I met how we know each other. And actually, this is our first time to ever speak all of our correspondents have been mostly through messenger.

Andrew O'Malley  0:45  
Yeah, exactly. So we met a few months back over messenger. I was doing some research for a program I was building at the time. And I was looking for volunteers to help learn about kind of what some people's stories were that they went through in the LGBTQ plus community. So you saw that post, and we had a conversation, we didn't actually get to the research part. But we really connected and when you said you were doing a podcast that was excited, interested to see what it was about, and hop on and share a little bit more about my story.

Coach Maddox  1:21  
Yeah, I can't wait to hear your story. And before we start, though, tell the listeners a little bit you know about you what what you do, because I'm not even real clear on that. I know that you're building out courses, and you're leading calls, are you a coach?

Andrew O'Malley  1:36  
Yes, I am a transformational life coach for people in the LGBTQ plus community. So my goal is really to meet with people and see how we can help them build more self acceptance, self confidence, and show up as the truest version of themselves. As people in the LGBTQ plus community, we don't necessarily have the same roadmap that other people have when it comes to knowing what we want to do with our life and knowing what that should or could even look like. So I meet people where they're at, and I help them create that shift to get to the next level of being truly themselves.

Coach Maddox  2:20  
That sounds amazing and resonates very much with the work that I do. And I'm so as I meet more and more gay coaches, I'm really excited. You know, because I think that we bring a unique perspective to the world, whether we're working with heterosexual clients, or we're working with clients in our own community. And certainly, definitely our community needs the support. So kudos to you for stepping up because I think it's a tall order. I don't I don't really feel like our community is a particularly easy, generally speaking community to coach. I think we have unique issues. And I think that it comes with its own set of challenges. And so bravo to you for stepping up to the plate and taking that on because it's it's big.

Andrew O'Malley  3:18  
Thank you. Yeah, and it's definitely a process for me, what I noticed a lot is it's, it's very vulnerable, because it needs a cause for that certain amount of honesty and vulnerability and sharing the not so pretty parts of my life that maybe if I was in a different profession, I wouldn't even need to cover so I definitely feel called to do this. And I definitely appreciate your words, because it's it's not an necessarily an easy direction to go into.

Coach Maddox  3:53  
It's not and you language that really beautifully. I mean, we are I find myself I've been really called to mostly a private person. And now I'm, you know, I'm on, you know, international global type platform sharing, you know, some of my deepest and darkest stuff. And that was really, very shocking to me in the very, very beginning, but I'm getting more and more at peace with it. But yeah, you're right. We probably if we weren't working with our own community maybe wouldn't have as much need or opportunity to, to share some of those really vulnerable stories. I hadn't thought of it like that. So thank you for that perspective. Problem. Well, before we get to our big question, I would like to know what it means to you to be an authentic gay man.

Andrew O'Malley  4:56  
That's a great question. And honestly, that's something That's been a big question within my own life for quite some time. And for me to answer that, or as as figuring out how to answer that for myself, I really had to look to who Andrew was as a kid. Because when I was a kid, there was just complete freedom. I didn't care necessarily how I looked how I talked, how I acted. If I liked something, I did it, if I wanted to do something, I went for it, there wasn't those boundaries really placed on me. And it wasn't until I got older kids at school started saying, like having their own judgments or expectations, that I started to put a lot of these feelings and expressions away. So for me, in my current day life, being authentic is reconnecting with those genuine just aspects and parts of my life. And having them consistent no matter the Senate, which again, as we said, you know, we're, we tend to be more private people, it's not always easy for me, because I like to have that boundary, that very thick set boundary between people, especially if I don't know them, per se. So my challenge has been learning how to take the step into just having being a little more out there and a little more authentic and doing less self editing.

Coach Maddox  6:31  
Yes, I love that. And I want to know, you know, that early in life when you weren't putting any boxes. And you were so free. Was that due to the homelife parents that just created this space? You know what, that's not? Quite honestly. And I've interviewed a lot of people. That's not a story I hear very often. Yeah, no, got to fully express. So you have the beauty of even though later in life, the kids at school kind of tended to you drew back at but you got put in a box, you have this very clear memory that many of us don't have, because some of that stuff was squeezed out of us before we even got old enough to, you know, to remember. Yeah, so what a beautiful thing that you have clear memories of what it was like, before you, you know, moved into that place of conformity.

Andrew O'Malley  7:36  
Yeah, I'm tremendously blessed. And I give my mom shout outs as much and as often as I can, for a few different reasons. So one is, she's just always been so genuinely an unconditional loving, both explicitly and implicitly. Like she does it through her words, through her actions. Every single part of my life, she's always been very clear, and very consistent about her unconditional love. Like I'm very confident if I was a kid who wanted to try on dresses or play with Barbies, she would have given me the space to do so. I always remember this one memory. And there was a Britney Spears concert. And she was playing at this outdoor venue and it shows on TV. And my mom yells and your Andrews Britney's playing and I come running to the living room and I do some of the dances like she was she was 100% supportive of whoever I want it to be right from, from the start. And it was interesting to when you're mentioning the kids. When I was growing up, I feel like I almost wasn't put into a box. But I feel like I was almost shown the box. I was like, Okay, this is how we act. This is what we do. These are the expectations. And for me, it was a lot of like, squeezing myself into that box. And maybe my foot was sticking out. So I bring it back in. And then my head pops out and I have to put it back in and it felt like every day honestly, there would be some sort of small slip or some sort of new piece of information of how I was supposed to act and who was supposed to be as kind of like a script. I tried to memorize it and and reenact it as best I could.

Coach Maddox  9:22  
You know, somebody said something to me recently that is along the lines of what you're describing. And I have so many conversations, I can't remember who it was but he said the patriarchy, trains boys to police each other. And the minute a little boy steps away from that the masculine norm, the other boys will do whatever they have to do to put him back in line. And I never heard it worded that way. And it it was it was so spot on and I never really He thought of it that way. But yes, it's so true. The patriarchy trains us to police each other at an extremely early age, you know, anything feminine is the enemy. And that is just, I don't, I don't get it.

Andrew O'Malley  10:15  
And I'm glad you said that, because that's given me insight, because I remember growing up, it seemed like everyone knew something I didn't know, as I was being policed. As I was being told, don't talk this way. Don't say this, don't do that. There was all these rules, as I thought to myself, like, why don't I know this? Who's telling us this? Were like, how am I supposed to conform to these expectations? If there's a new one every day?

Coach Maddox  10:45  
Well, and the answer to that is you had an unconditionally loving mom, she didn't follow that stuff. I mean, I think that the patriarchy even trains, like women, you know, even even mothers will police their sons when it's just, it's this pervasive thing that has been going on since the I don't know beginning of time, perhaps somebody else I was listening maybe to a podcast, where they were talking about the patriarchy is actually killing men. And then they went into this explanation about, you know, how we have higher homicide rates, higher, violent crime, higher suicide rates, higher addiction to substances and stuff. And it's because all of that, not allowing us to be who we are and feeling our feelings and expressing them is jacking us up in a really big way.

Andrew O'Malley  11:46  
Yeah, I really agree with that, in the sense, it's setting us up for failure. If there's all of these expectations, all of these ideas of who we're supposed to be, it's not realistic for us to be able to attain that unless it's genuinely your personality, which It couldn't be. But for most of us, and especially people in our community, that's not even close to being our truth. No, oh, how are we supposed to wake up in the morning knowing that we got to put on the mask, we got to put on a show. And in my mind, when I was in that space, any failure would have been social peril. I would have been an outcast in my head. So there's the stakes are high for me.

Coach Maddox  12:36  
How did you navigate that? Andrew? When you felt that they showed you the box, and you felt compelled to squeeze yourself into the box? How did you navigate that moving forward?

Andrew O'Malley  12:49  
I just wanted to be liked and I wanted to be feel like I was part of the group. So navigating it, I did what I could to learn. As much as I could have both these rules, these expectations. A lot of the vibrant parts of my personality, I covered up with monotony with disinterest. Part of it, I was also a moody teenager, you know, it comes with the age, but a lot of it was me. Just hiding and changing those vibrant and expressive and bubbly parts of myself.

Coach Maddox  13:24  
Well, in what you're describing is conformity. People formed to fit in. Because nobody wants to be the outcast. No, you know, one of the biggest lessons I think I've ever learned is there is a huge difference between fitting in and belonging. In order to, and I say all the time in order to fit in, and you literally have to widdle parts of your being away. It's like putting a square peg in a round hole. Whereas belonging is when people just love us and accept us for exactly who we are the way your mother did.

Andrew O'Malley  14:00  
Yeah. And it feels so much better when you belong, as opposed to fit in feels so much better.

Coach Maddox  14:08  
Oh, yes. Oh, yes. I've heard of fitting in. And that that whole conformity thing is, it's hard and it's painful. And there's not one ounce of it that feels natural. And it's exhausting. So as fasting, so what was it that shined a light on that where you could I guess make a different decision or how or when did you start to realize that that wasn't the answer and you shifted?

Andrew O'Malley  14:45  
That's a good question. And it was really a process. I'm trying to think of when it exactly it started. One of the misconceptions I did have Is that going to go off to college university would have been like a quick reset. So I think at the time as a teenager, I use that somewhat as my signpost, okay, well, I'm in the closet, now, I'm changing the way I act now. But University, everything will be better. And I'll be different, and there'll be more accepting. When I actually got to university, I remember the first day where there's a group of us and I had a really just easy way to come out. And in the moment, I panicked, I didn't feel I didn't feel uncomfortable, per se, but I didn't feel comfortable enough to just come out for the first time. And then months went by, I started getting feelings actually, for someone who was in one of my classes. And it was the first time I thought maybe I didn't know if they're interested in me or not. But it was the first time in my life, I felt like there was maybe a chance that there's maybe the opportunity to finally be in a relationship. And all my other friends have been dating for years at this point. And I was always the odd one out, I was always the one secretly falling for people who would never love me back. So I took a bit of a risk, I was honest with them, I said, I had feelings for him. And it wasn't really mutual. At the same time, there was some, I would call them a vocal minority. But there's a few people in the residency who were very homophobic and very vocally homophobic. And in my head, going to university, everything was going to change. And then here it was in some of the same situations. But the cat had somewhat got out of the bag, the you know, my identity has started to spread among among our peers. So I really had to put myself in an environment where I could start to figure things out. So I joined a local, while the LGBTQ plus community group on campus. And for the first time in my life, I was surrounded by other people who actually had a similar story to me, and who could actually relate to some of the things I was going through. And, you know, is the first time I started to get the authentic feeling of belonging. So in terms of expression, that was probably my first space, or my first opportunity to show those parts of me I hadn't shown in cheese over a decade at that point in my life. And so read, discover and redefined who I am as a person.

Coach Maddox  18:05  
You know, it's interesting, I can, I can relate. It's like, I can hear it, and I and I get it. And at the same time, it's so opposite of my story. You know, I was very expressive as a child. And then there was that point where I pulled back because I was just getting bombarded and it's taken me a while my whole life to work my way back to authenticity.

Andrew O'Malley  18:34  
Not easy,

Coach Maddox  18:34  
it's literally taking me my whole life. You know, I'm, here I am, I'm, I'm, I'm a senior citizen on on Medicare. You know, I'm about that in a couple of weeks, I'm turning 66 years old. And I have just really, really dove into the vulnerability in the authenticity in the last three years. And of course, it's absolutely rocked my world and changed my life and miraculous ways. It's all about it's my platform, everything is about Yeah. But it's been a long time coming. I hung out a place that you hang out for a decade, I hung out in that place for many decades. And it's been it's been a process like it was for us. So long, drawn out process because there were some people that I could be authentic in front of. Oddly, it was my straight friends, mostly. My last hurdle and it was the biggest hurdle was being able to show up authentically with my own community. That was the hardest part for me to be able to be myself in front of other gay men.

Andrew O'Malley  19:50  
Where do you think that fear came from?

Coach Maddox  19:54  
I would say it probably came from a string of really bad experiences that I had when I first came out, you know, I think that I had been really, really bullied all through my life by the straight boys bullied really bad, and finally came out at around 24. And I, I thought you found your people, everything's going to be okay. Well, it was worse. You know, in that first year, I was kind of a naive 24 year old. And I was just taken advantage of and treated mistreated by gay men like not and I just backed out, I went, Wow. I can't do this. And I retreated back into the destroyed world with my friends. And that's where I've lived most of my life. I've had lots of gay acquaintances, and few gay friends that say, really knew me and that I really knew. So part of me that over here is celebrating what you're saying, because you figured it out. Pretty PDQ pretty damn quick and realigned with your, your real authentic self. At an early age, you were in your first year of college when you reconnected

Andrew O'Malley  21:13  
when I start started. Yeah, yeah. When

Coach Maddox  21:15  
you started, I mean, yeah, it wasn't from, you know, zero to the finish line. And six point seconds, like six points, net, some odd seconds. Yeah, sports car. But yeah, well, what a beautiful story. So as you started to lean back in you got in some of the organizations and how did that impact your life?

Andrew O'Malley  21:44  
That's a good question. I would say

Coach Maddox  21:46  
that impact your friendships and even as you begin to have romantic relationships.

Andrew O'Malley  21:55  
Yeah. So it's funny, because when you think of coming out, or at least when I did, I thought it would be like a one time thing. And then it's done. I didn't realize that coming out how to do well ends up usually being a bit of a process, especially if I'm starting to accept myself, but I'm still trying to express myself, maybe people don't pick up that, hey, he's not straight. And then they put on a specific label. So it took a process of like continually, being vocally honest about who I was. And in my life, it felt good to have those people who started to understand me who I could relate to. At the time, within that sphere, I would say I still wanted more, per se, I still wanted maybe a bit of a deeper friendship with people a bit of a bigger opportunity for dating. So I'd actually say that part of my life really shifted about three, four years later, when I moved to Montreal. The city, I lived in Waterloo, it's a very small, LGBTQ plus community. I mean, there it's present, there's resources is a great first step. But in terms of when I really felt like I was out, but then I really started to shine. It was when I made that move to Montreal. And the first time, I found a group of friends really, really quickly. And it was the first time where I was my closest to 100% authentic, you know, we would go dancing together, we would watch movies together. We were talking about our dating lives together. It was really, these friendships and this very deep connection with a group of of people in our community that showed me my first signs of true belongingness

Coach Maddox  24:12  
I have a theory that I'd like to run by you because I have really shared this with you know, somebody that's in your age category. And it took me a long time to come to this. But that process where you were talking about

coming back to yourself, and you thought it was just going to be a once and done we're going to come out admitted that being this process of coming out coming out coming out coming out stages. i I wonder and I think what may be going on there is we are in the process of learning to fully accept ourselves. I think that we're thinking it's all happening out here, if that makes sense. And I'm wondering if it's not all actually, like, the process that we're going through is not getting the world to accept us as a gay person. It's it's really internal. And it's really, but it's unconscious. It's more about us, accepting ourselves as that gay person, because what there was this point where I realized, the more I accepted myself, the more the world accepted me. But I was very clear to the point where I was really clear it was coming from the inside and working its way out, rather than the way we would maybe normally think it would be. Were better when everybody else just finally accepts me know, everybody else would feel better when I finally just accept myself. Because yeah, follow our lead. How does that? How do you resonate with that? Or how does that land for you?

Andrew O'Malley  25:59  
Yeah, I definitely see some truth in that I have two kind of ideas around that. So the first thing, and I definitely see that within my story, I always relate it to when I was in that stage, and I was dealing with my own identity. It felt like Pandora's box, like I had this box, it was full of fears. And I finally came out and I opened the box. And for the first time in my life, all those bottle emotions, all of the fear, it came flying out of the box, I close the box, I dealt with everything that came out of the box. And then as I'm moving forward, the box opens again. And the more fears come out, there's more things I have to deal with. I see that in what you're saying. It's it wasn't necessarily me, needing to come out to everyone, it was dealing with those fears. And with those insecurities. And with all of these unprocessed emotions, and sometimes the Renew emotions. Sometimes I dealt with what seemed like the same problem three different times. I thought didn't know how to get over this. I already accept myself.

Coach Maddox  27:08  
Yes, I will let you in on a little secret. Since I'm several decades old. You are every time you open that box, it's going to be full. Yeah. You know, I can remember time when I thought oh, once I get over this, you know, we're all done. Never done work that way. You never know. Oh, okay.

Andrew O'Malley  27:34  
Yeah, so that was I definitely see that in that term. I think for me, on in kind of tandem with the self acceptance. For me, it was learning how to trust. And I feel like coming out to the other people in our community first was kind of a guaranteed acceptance. And who were

Coach Maddox  27:59  
you learning to trust though?

Andrew O'Malley  28:06  
In my head, I was learning to trust other people. I think I was learning to trust that I would be okay. No matter what the response was.

Coach Maddox  28:19  
Is it possible that you're learning to trust yourself? Yeah,

Andrew O'Malley  28:25  
that was definitely something I struggled with, especially in the first stages, because I mean, there's no guarantee I was right, there is no guarantee that the way I saw the world was accurate or true. And that was one of the fears in in Pandora's box for me is like, what if I am just completely out to left field. I remember even I legitimately questioned my personal sanity. Like I was at that level of confused because I thought, if I am I don't want to use this term lightly. But like, if I am insane, like what I know that and it was, you know, I like to analyze things. And I like to have like the answers to everything. And in the moment, I was genuinely worried because I was like, I didn't have anyone who I trusted to talk to at that time. And I didn't have a way to validate it. I was just completely wrong. So that was something that took me a while to work on.

Coach Maddox  29:31  
So you just touched on something that I want to just kind of unpack for a minute. You were at a place where you didn't really have anybody else to talk to that you could trust. Now was that what was that like?

Andrew O'Malley  29:49  
Exhausting. It was

Coach Maddox  29:53  

Andrew O'Malley  29:55  
and I knew logically there be people I could reach out too, I mean, I always knew my mom was unconditionally accepting. I have a friend who I eventually did come out to first and on my own terms, who I knew logically would be accepting. But in the moment, I just felt like, I have to figure everything myself. And it was exhausting. It was mentally draining. And in terms of my story of selling my crush, how I felt, not that it wasn't necessarily a bad thing, but I would have went about it a lot different, you know, when you when you're in situations are you're, you're crushing on someone and you make bad decisions you like, for the most part, we have our friends, and we're bouncing off ideas off them, and we're getting their opinions like there was none of that, for me. Everything was me and my thoughts. And my journal,

Coach Maddox  30:52  
you said I had to figure it out on my own. That's been a period of time ago. Is that statement true?

Andrew O'Malley  31:04  
It's a lot less true. Now. I definitely do have a tendency to not want to ask for help. And I still have the reflex to just bottle things in.

Coach Maddox  31:21  
But I do

Andrew O'Malley  31:24  
push myself more now than I did before to give the honest and vulnerable story.

Coach Maddox  31:34  
Even if it's not so pretty. I think one of the hardest things we do is ask for help. And I think there's lots of stuff there to unpack, you know, why do we have such a hard time asking for help? Yeah, because we don't believe we deserve the hill? Or I mean, there's certainly several answers probably.

Andrew O'Malley  32:00  
For me, I think it's like a constellation of answers. And I feel like they're all true. But I don't know, I'm not sure which one's the most sure. But one Yeah, it's definitely that kind of valid. One, maybe not feeling like I deserve the help or that asking for help will make me a burden to it's the idea. And I feel like this is kind of trained in us through education. And I love education, I'm an advocate for that. But you know, you you learn a topic, you take a test, you have to do the whole thing on your own, you're not really allowed to ask for help, you're not really allowed to take resources from somewhere else. Like it's all you. And for me, I also think, Well, part of it would be personality. And part of it's also, you know, my role models growing up, because I looked up to my mom's so much, and she's a very independent person, you know, she is really a superhero and what she can accomplish on her own. But then there's also that that role model of not being vulnerable, and not asking for the help when maybe we could get benefit from some more help. So I definitely see a lot of factors coming into play with with my own story and where I might have learned some of these.

Coach Maddox  33:22  
How does asking for the help that you need asking for support? Does it have anything at all to do with one's ability to be authentic? Are those two connected in any way? In your experience our perception?

Andrew O'Malley  33:43  
Yeah, actually, because in the sense of, if I don't want to ask for help, it's because I want to be be or feel more competent and capable. And I want to portray that image, even if I'm struggling. So by not asking for help, I'm denying the reality that I'm struggling. I'm trying to change

Coach Maddox  34:12  
the facts. And is there an aspect of wanting or needing to look good? Yeah, because that's something we don't tend to talk about. This is this is I love where this has just landed because we will sacrifice our sales and not ask for the support that we need. Because we're more attached to looking good than to actually being good.

Andrew O'Malley  34:42  
Absolutely. And one of the things I see a lot within, especially within our community is that aspect of compensation, because we've had so many messages and so many comments and criticisms about our selves that maybe we don't feel as good about ourselves. So to compensate, we get the best job possible. We look perfect, so we never struggle with anything we have a fantastic friend group. These are some of the ways that we use this as armor from, from criticism and from not feeling good enough for perfectionism. Perfectionism

Coach Maddox  35:27  
overachieving. Yeah, if I do, if I look good enough, if I provide enough this that may be people will love me, it's all in my personal experience. And then in my observation of others, it's all all grounded in a lack of self love. Talk to me a little bit about Andrews self love and where you are in that.

Andrew O'Malley  35:57  
Yeah, well, I love myself so much more than I used to do that. It's almost funny how much we can stray from that path. Because, I mean, logically, we know okay, we should love ourselves and we should be taking care of ourselves. But emotionally there can be such a disconnect between the two. For me, a lot of my self love and self confidence and feeling of validation comes from basically what we were just saying, you know, I always I still have those tendencies, and those urges to overachieve. And to perform at my best and not have any mistakes and get into that perfectionism. So one of the biggest parts of my self love, where I'm at right now, is the forgiveness and what I call handling situations with grace. You know, if you think of the entire world population, and I asked you, what percentage of people have ever made a mistake? Well, the answer

Coach Maddox  37:06  
is going to be 100% 100%,

Andrew O'Malley  37:10  
right? Everyone makes a mistake. So why am I holding myself to a standard where I'm not allowed to make mistakes, or I'm not allowed to have a failure? It's, it's unreasonable. And I was never going to criticize my way to self love. And I was never going to tear myself down enough to reach the success. So I needed to learn how to forgive myself, and forgive any challenges or roadblocks or delays, I've had to get to a better space where I have the grace, and I have the comfort just being me. I think you're spot on.

Coach Maddox  37:50  
You know, I think if we ask anybody, do you love yourself must be alone? Of course, you know, but those are empty words. It's our actions where that's really determined, what would you say are some of the primary actions that you take that would be on a shadow of a doubt, demonstrate? Andrew, self love for Andrew? Part of it for

Andrew O'Malley  38:18  
me, is being structured, having an ability to look at what I've done in a day. And how would I say this? Now, no, but that's not true. Because I was gonna say, like, look at what I've done in a day, and then just be accepting of where I've gotten to, but I can always look at that and and say, I haven't done enough. What has been the change? It's so interesting, because some of it's such a uphill battle that when you finally get there, you're like, there's so many little things that I feel like had to happen and so many slips, that it's almost hard to say, like, what was the defining factor, like part of it was having structured for myself being active three, four times a week, having that time to connect with my body. Part of it was the forgiveness and just zooming out in my life and not needing to be at a specific destination and in my life, my career and my romantic life by a certain date, and just allow that to unfold. Part of it was being authentic and open and trusting that people will meet me where I'm at

Coach Maddox  39:57  
what would you say are some of the things that onlooker's people in your life would observe that would naturally lead them to believe that self love is in place for you. I think it's the

Andrew O'Malley  40:12  
freedom. I remember being in. Back when I worked in an office, I remember people always commented on how just like, have a sunny disposition I had, I was always so ready to meet people, where they're at, give them the support and encouragement and connection. And it really just came from a place of just being and just being myself and just being authentic and how I wanted to express it, you know, they play, they play music at that office, and I would sing along and I would, you know, there was one day where I got up with one of my co workers, and we danced around the office for a song kind of thing. And it was really just those that inhibition that lack of inhibition that showed my comfort with myself, and just that being in the moment.

Coach Maddox  41:18  
Comfort in your own skin. Yeah, we always know when we're in the presence of somebody that's comfortable in their own skin. It's like you can smell it a mile away. Or you can smell when they're not comfortable in their own skin. Yeah, what else comes to mind?

Andrew O'Malley  41:40  
For when other people see me or her

Coach Maddox  41:43  
yeah, just just just simple, not anything grandiose. Just simple ways that you demonstrate self love. What I do for self love.

Andrew O'Malley  42:01  
This is such a silly one I love to sleep. And I feel like honestly napping as part of my self love. As silly as it might sound like sleep is so near and dear to me, it's my you always know what I haven't had enough sleep because I'm pretty cranky. And I get my temper gets shorter and shorter. But honestly, something like that. And something like allowing myself the space to relax and recharge, has also played a part in getting me to where I am today.

Coach Maddox  42:34  
See, I don't think that's silly at all. I mean, I think you just hit the nail on the head. I mean, self care is a form of self love. You know, there's self care that we do to conform. And then there's self care that we do. It's just for us. Yeah, just for us, you can, it's like a, to me, it's like two sides of a coin. They are the people that get in the closet and put all the designer wear on and it's all to look good for others. And then there's those that get in and they groom themselves and they get dressed and they don't give a shit what anybody else thinks they're doing that because it makes them feel special, it makes them feel wonderful to take that extra time to groom themselves and press that shirt and put on an outfit and adorn themselves. Rarely, I this is something that I've come to believe rarely is anything in and of itself, any action in and of itself necessarily negative or positive. It's more about the intentions behind it. Or are the are the intentions behind it healthy or unhealthy. You know, if you're going out and running up credit card debt to get that designer suit, you know, to impress everybody that you can't even really afford that's not particularly a healthy way to get those needs met. On the other hand, if you're well within your means, and there's just something about, you know, putting on a nice outfit and some nice crisp shoes that feed your spirit in a way that energizes you and helps you show up more authentically. Both people are sort of doing the same thing. They're just doing it from a different motivation. Yeah. And we don't look at that very often. How does that how does that land for you that, you know,

Andrew O'Malley  44:42  
we're the ones who create the meaning. We make the meaning and this is something I was thinking about recently in terms of failure. Like what actually is a failure? Is it not getting what you want or is it not? Is it not doing Even if what you want, or is it, you know, as a failure when you want something and you don't do that, you know, there's there's so many possible definitions. And I was really challenging myself and figuring out like, what is my definition of a failure? If I'm actually, if I actually look back on what's happened back my life, all these things that I might have considered a failure is that actually what it was? Or is that just me being hard on myself and trying to change just the nature of what life is

Coach Maddox  45:35  
what you're describing are called grounding. And I think that there is, I've spent quite a bit of time, grounding myself in different concepts, like, defining for myself, what success means defining for myself what masculinity means. There's the dictionary definitions, then there's the societal definitions, and then there is me grounding myself in what it means to me, and how I want it to play out in my life and how I want to live it, and nobody can figure that out. But you,

Andrew O'Malley  46:13  
yeah, I had a very similar journey in my head in terms of my gender identity. And what I wanted to identify with, and it was very, like, the steps you were describing sounded very similar to why what I took, you know, what is a man? And how does, what is that definition? what's all included in that definition? Is it complete? You know, and for me, I thought, well, if I don't identify as men, would it be woman? Or within the definition of man? Is there something I need to add? Or something I need to change? or modify? Like, what if I could expand that definition? So that way, it's more in line with who I am?

Coach Maddox  46:59  
Well, then I think we know when we've landed on on the right definition for ourselves, when we fully grounded I think, for me, when I know that I'm there, because this sense of peace comes over me. I'm sitting in I'm working on it. And I'm and sometimes it's a process and sometimes when I grounded myself on masculinity, it poured out of me like I was channeling it from, you know, higher place. Yeah. And then I read it back to myself. And I had never had peace around that concept before masculinity triggered me just the term triggering me. And after I grounded myself and read back what I had written, this piece came over me and that was probably three years ago. And masculine is just not something that tweaks me or triggers me anymore. It's beautiful. I just came to that place of complete peace about it. And that's the beauty of grand grounding ourselves, and we can ground ourselves on anything. Yeah, I love that you're, you know, you didn't call it that. That's certainly what you're doing when you started really trying to define Well, what does success look like? You know, part of the problem, I think, that we have as human being is, is that we we don't define anything for ourselves to speak. We let the world define things for us. We're always chasing somebody else's goal.

Andrew O'Malley  48:26  
With our goals, their rules, their expectations.

Coach Maddox  48:31  
Yeah. Yep. something magical happens. You know, I've granted myself on the concept of integrity and honesty, and that I just Yeah. And once you've got it down, you don't even need to revisit it anymore. It's like, okay, it's solid. I got it. Good stuff. Yeah. So I'd love to know a little bit more about where you are now.

Andrew O'Malley  49:01  
Yeah. So after all of those, you know, pieces and building blocks that we've discussed, I turned more into personal development. And I realized, so I started to realize one of the concepts you you brought up, is, instead of looking at what the world isn't giving me I, I looked more inside, and I looked for what I wasn't giving myself or where I was still feeling and finding all this internal resistance. So I went down a deep dive into personal development, business reading books, podcasts, audiobooks, YouTube videos, anything I could get my hands on, to really grow and learn and develop as a person.

Coach Maddox  49:52  
What you said was so powerful. I stopped looking at what that tells me that I'm paraphrasing because I can't verbatim But tell me if I'm getting this right. I stopped looking at what the world wasn't giving me and I started looking at what I wasn't giving me. Yeah. Wow, I hope the listeners are really paying attention right now because that's huge. And in that moment, your life began to shift, didn't it? Yeah, absolutely. You know, when we're looking at what the world is given us, we're playing the victim card, and there is no freedom or peace

Andrew O'Malley  50:28  
in victimhood never. Because you're always going to find it, if you're looking for it, you're always going to find something that's not fair. And that's holding you back.

Coach Maddox  50:40  
You know, when you when you say, what is it that I'm not giving me, you've taken responsibility, and that's where all the power is. You're like,

Andrew O'Malley  50:53  
yeah, it empowered me into building myself a future where I finally got some different results. And that was exciting. And that was hopeful for me. Because I didn't want to keep going in those those past cycles, the past, searching for validation, and, and not feeling good enough, and just being frustrated. So I really went down that path and develop myself, I got into life coaching, and I wanted to share some of these shifts, and some of these ideas and some of this healing with other people. So I healed, I started the healing process for myself, and I help other people make similar processes. And I also noticed, as I was looking for resources, and as I provided resources to other people, there's a lot of lack for our community. And there's a lot of resources that are very geared towards a heterosexual lifestyle, or cisgender. Identity, or even if it's not, like if there's a lot of lack of just like tailoring to, to our community, there's a lack of acknowledgement, which it's just, it doesn't give you a good feeling. That's it for me, it fed into a lot of the same ideas that I got when I was growing up, and going through all this, oh, well, you're fine. But maybe you're not good enough to include in this resource, or we're gonna use this example. And you can kind of tailor it to your situation, like, Where was the resources for us? Where are the resources that speak to my story,

Coach Maddox  52:47  
I think our community still is very much trying to fit into a heteronormative way of living a model. I think it's interesting, because I think that we do have the ability to just cast it all aside and create our own models. You know, I would love to see us I've been having a lot of conversation lately about this, I would love to see us, as a community, completely create our own model around what the counterpart to marriage, not even call it marriage, you know, but to create some it's all our own that works for us and isn't a copycat model of something that works for or doesn't work.

Andrew O'Malley  53:36  
I was gonna say, I think that that's also the question that might be a follow up podcast. But

Coach Maddox  53:43  
I think the institution, I don't want to bash marriage as an institution. But I think the way we go about it is lame. I think we've got a lot of weird beliefs and limiting absolutely concepts about marriage, and the way we approach it is not working, or we wouldn't have a 50% divorce rate in this country.

Andrew O'Malley  54:05  
And that's exactly what I was gonna say, and I'm, I'm no relationship or marriage expert. But if something's only working 50% of the time, isn't really working.

Coach Maddox  54:15  
That is not good odds, you would never invest in the stock market. If it was only a, you know, 5050 chance that you were going to gain a dividend. Yeah, don't do that with marriage. It's very bizarre. I'm

Andrew O'Malley  54:30  
going to move into this apartment, but there's a 50% chance I'm gonna get kicked out. No, you're not gonna do that. I wouldn't do

Coach Maddox  54:36  
that. No, there's a 50% chance it's going to burn down in the first three months that I live there. We would not do that. Yeah, we do that with marriage.

Andrew O'Malley  54:46  
And I'm not against marriage at all. It's just there's a lot of it's funny because as someone in the LGBTQ plus community, and I've noticed this with a lot of people I've spoken to because we have I'd like to analyze and evaluate our own identities so much and challenge our own norms so much, I find, we tend to be more receptive to alternative models of what could be for ourselves. And I feel like I agree with you. I think marriage is one of those areas where we can build a new model, whatever that might look like.

Coach Maddox  55:26  
It's like an old house that needs to be completely gutted and renovated. We don't want to tear the house down completely and scrape the light clean. But we certainly can't just get by with putting paint on, you know, how's that saying? Go put lipstick on a pig? It's yeah, big at the end of the day. Yeah. Well, I love the story that you're telling. And I love how far you've come in a short time. May I ask how old? You are? Andrew?

Andrew O'Malley  56:04  
I'm 28. Wow.

Coach Maddox  56:07  
So you've come really a long way in a very short period of time?

Andrew O'Malley  56:12  
Yeah, it hasn't been easy if

Coach Maddox  56:14  
we're getting on there. And and do you? Do you know that? Do you know that you have come a very long way in a very short period of time? Because honestly, telling is vastly different than mine. It's taken me, you know, five decades to come to that place that you're describing that you've done, right, in one decade. And I just, I'm wondering if you realize how

Andrew O'Malley  56:44  
not to complain or to hate because, yeah, not completely, because I still think I do have somewhat of a struggle of internalizing my own success and just being acknowledging what I know now and where I am now versus where I was,

Coach Maddox  57:06  
well, and the struggles are real, and they don't necessarily go away, they just change. You know, life is a struggle, and we would die of boredom. If there wasn't challenges. There's a reason it all works the way it works. But I think that for you, I just think you've come to a really good place in a pretty quick period of time now, will they be curveballs that may take you out of that good place, you seem pretty level headed grounded. You, you wouldn't be able to coach other people, if you hadn't come to some place of personal success with your development. A certain level of self awareness is what I sense in just this one conversation that you are going to change lives. As you go into your work as a coach, you probably already are changing lives. And we need that we we desperately need that. I guess I'm wanting to get you to maybe realize that there's some celebration at hand here. You have something to celebrate, you know, how many? How many? How many GB TQ men do you know, there are 28 that have traversed the territory that you've traversed, and you're standing on the top of the mountain looking down on the ballot? You know, you sound like you got a pretty good life.

Andrew O'Malley  58:50  
Thank you. Well, it, it struck me too when you're telling a bit about your story in your first year of being out. And it was the the community like our community that where you had the most, most difficulties, trauma, trauma, and I feel like that really speaks to how much healing is left to be done.

Coach Maddox  59:11  
Tons because how much we changed all that much is the I came out 41 years ago. And I don't know that it's it's changed some and it's changed in ways that makes it look different, but down at its core. I'm not so sure that it's changed all that much. You know, we've we've gone from cruising the bars to meet people to getting on apps now. And it's pizza. Certainly there have been some changes, but the inner workings, the dynamics, the way we treat ourselves and that all this internal thing. I wouldn't say it's changed to a large degree. It looks a lot the way it did four decades ago. Yeah, we got our work cut out for us.

Andrew O'Malley  1:00:03  
I mean, a lot of opportunity as gay men,

Coach Maddox  1:00:05  
we have our work cut out for us and then as gay coaches to, you know, things there but yes, ever work cut out for us. Yeah, absolutely. So if you were going to drop a wisdom bomb on the listeners, perhaps maybe this would be for somebody that is at the point in their life where they're struggling, as you described in the beginning struggling with their authenticity, they struggled to be vulnerable, they struggle with their feelings. What would you like to leave? I mean, you've told an amazing story I've really enjoyed thank you a conversation with you. What would you like to leave the listener with? Your your takeaway that you've learned that you think maybe would help them in some way? Yeah,

Andrew O'Malley  1:00:58  
that's hard to say, because it really depends on their biggest struggle. But I think it comes down to two things. And I think one is just to, like I said, to forgive yourself, you know, if you're in that space, forgive yourself for being confused. Forgive yourself for not knowing what you want to do next, or what even makes sense to you. And just allow yourself, the time and the peace, to explore, and to maybe make some mistakes, because we put so much emphasis on figuring things out, but we don't put very much emphasis on exploring, or just being

Coach Maddox  1:01:41  
or observing. I love that. I love that. I gotta say, I've just met somebody recently and started dating, and I've been single for 14 years. So it's been a long dry spell, and I'm now seeing someone. And he came to me. And that's what he said to me. He said, I want to explore with you. Nobody had ever said that to me before. And it just, it took me aback. I mean, it took me aback. And I'm so excited at the prospect of that, that I can't stand it. Being able to just explore, explore life and experiences and places and things and but together. Yeah. Because yeah, we don't we don't do a lot of that.

Andrew O'Malley  1:02:39  
Now we I know for me how was very threatened very into putting pressure on myself to have it figured out. But you can't figure something else until you explore.

Coach Maddox  1:02:51  
Yep. So that's, that's the wisdom bomb. I think you're dropping, I get it right that you're, you know, there we go. Stop trying to get everything perfect. And put it all in its boxes and just go and explore life as it is. That's beautiful. That's a beautiful message. And I don't know anybody that wouldn't get value out of that right there. Thank you. Just explore. Thank you. Thank you. Well, are you ready for some rapid fire questions?

Andrew O'Malley  1:03:26  
Yes, I was born ready. I love a good rapid fire out.

Coach Maddox  1:03:28  
I love it. Let's do it. Okay, when was the last time that you cried in front of another gay man? Oh,

Andrew O'Malley  1:03:44  
it's might be a little sad. But it was probably at my friend's funeral last year. I cry a lot during movies and everything. But in terms of like crying in front of someone. I was 10.

Coach Maddox  1:03:56  
So almost a year. Yeah,

Andrew O'Malley  1:04:01  
I mean, if we have a movie night, I'll probably be crying that but probably about a year.

Coach Maddox  1:04:08  
Well, I'm going to I'm going to throw out just a little teaser. What if you started to engage in some conversations that were pretty raw with some of your trusted peeps? And had that be the thing that brought you to tears? How does that land for you? That's

Andrew O'Malley  1:04:27  
scary. That's true vulnerability there.

Coach Maddox  1:04:31  
Yeah, it is. Yeah, magic at the same time powerful. It's very magical when you can share and cry with another human being because oftentimes they'll cry right along with you. Good stuff. Okay. If you only had moments to live, I mean, literally only moments. What would be your greatest regret? Oh, I

Andrew O'Malley  1:05:05  
don't know if I really have any big regrets at this point in my life. There are really things like I wish I could have had the time to do in terms of like getting married or having kids or it's funny man, the whole marriage discussion, but you know, if if I was gonna die,

Coach Maddox  1:05:26  
it wasn't the biggest regret, it was just the greatest regret,

Andrew O'Malley  1:05:29  
I don't think I would really have a regret per se. I mean, I would have loved to have spent more time with family. But there's almost not really a way to quantify that I don't think, like, I feel like I'm at a point in my life where I've built enough acceptance and, and acknowledgement of my actions so far to date, and what's appropriate, with my age and my life and what I've been able to do. So I don't think there's anything I would have really regret. And again, this comes to building that forgiveness, and in any setbacks or anything that didn't quite go my way. I mean, there's a lot I have left that I want to do. But I can't get there by tomorrow. So I'm not necessarily regretting that it hasn't happened.

Coach Maddox  1:06:28  
Yep. That's wisdom right there. True wisdom right there, Andrew. Okay, final question. of your life that you have lived so far. What are you the most proud of

Andrew O'Malley  1:06:51  
I would say I am the most proud of making it work of, you know, I'm not necessarily someone who takes the easy path. When I moved to Montreal, there wasn't really much I was going off of I had, you know, some savings. And I had a dream and I had an idea of the life I wanted to build, and I made it work. And it really wasn't pretty. There was a lot of unemployment, lack of employment, figuring things out, and just kind of getting by on the by grits. But I would say my one my ability to figure it out. And I'm also proud of making my mom proud, because she is someone who I've seen, like sacrifice so much for for us and our family. And she puts so many of her own dreams on the back burner that I always act in a way that that where I can capture as much of this opportunity she's given to me, because I know these are some of the things she didn't have for herself. So yeah, just kind of living life to the fullest maximizing what I can do, and having the grace if I don't get quite where I think I should be.

Coach Maddox  1:08:20  
Yeah, I just want to reflect back to you that you have dropped a lot of wisdom today. You're an old soul. Thank you. Thank you Now I year, the personal growth and awareness work that you're doing is working. Keep, keep doing it. Thank you, you know, and the fact that you're in coaching, you know, we teach what we most need to learn. I've learned so much about my own life from coaching others, it's just crazy. Yeah. So good stuff. Good stuff. Your answers were amazing. I have really enjoyed this conversation. Andrew, thank you so much for coming on and sharing your story. I know that beyond a shadow of a doubt it's going to have impact on the listeners.

Andrew O'Malley  1:09:09  
Yeah, thanks for having me here, Maddox. I'm glad we were able to get some time on the calendar and even a wonderful host. So thank you for giving me a time and space to share my story.

Coach Maddox  1:09:22  
Thank you. Thank you. And there's one thing that I do want to leave you with and that is that in my eyes, you certainly are an authentic gay man. Thank you. Mission accomplished. Check

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Andrew O'Malley

LGBTQ+ Transformational Life Coach

Andrew O'Malley is a LGBTQ+ transformational life coach who helps people heal feelings of shame so they can live freely and take their careers to the next level.

As a certified coach, Andrew uses a unique blend of neuroscience, psychology, and mindset training to help clients make shifts in their thoughts and actions so they can reach the next level of self-acceptance. His methods are backed by his keen eye for analyzing human behavior and nearly a decade of dedicated study on the human brain. Andrew also uses these skills on a personal level, continually reaching higher goals in business, fitness, and interpersonal relationships.

Working with individuals who struggle with feelings of isolation, fear, and depression, Andrew helps them create a brighter vision for the future so they can expand their confidence and embrace their full potential.