Mark Nessia

Bakersfield Life Magazine Editor Mark Nessia

Ever since I was young, I’ve made a conscious effort to not be “that guy.”

I really don’t know what the catalyst for that mindset was – I just knew I wanted to be different, to be better. To stand out by not conforming to machismo, because, frankly, that’s just not me.

So who is that guy?

In a nutshell, it’s the person you don’t want to be.

Definitions will differ from person to person, but for me, that guy is someone who’s selfish, disrespectful, loud and arrogant. A person who’ll tear others down to build himself up. A guy who lives by “bro codes” and hypermasculinity.

I’m not against all things masculine. I just think that mentality is a little outdated and one-dimensional. Maybe it’s due to the fact that I was raised in a household that consisted of a single mother and an older sister. Not having a father figure could have altered my perception of the world around me, but I was fortunate to have numerous male role models growing up so I never felt I was missing out on anything.

I believe my outlook is firmly rooted in respect for others and strong moral values revolving around courage, truth and honesty. That is, the courage to stay true to who you are and to be honest with everyone, especially yourself.

It’s no easy task, especially in this day and age where there is constant pressure to “fit in.” But a life lived by one’s own standards is a far more rewarding one. And that’s where “the other guy” comes in.

This is the person you want to be – your best self.

Again, this is different for each individual but we should have some idea of the person we should strive to be. It’s a constantly evolving vision that changes as we enter new stages in life but the goal is always the same: to be better than we were the previous day.

Lately, I’ve been stepping outside my comfort zone.

Some moves were moderate, like giving control over my hair to A Cut In Time owner Mallory Torrigiani. She had complete say over how long to grow it out and what to do when the time came to cut it. Some will say it looks exactly the same (take a look at my new photo and see for yourself) but the differences are in the details.

Other decisions were far outside my comfort zone, like signing up for yoga classes at The Yoga Roots, even attending classes by myself when my friend bailed on me. It’s nerve-wracking at first being the only male in the studio but my body and mind were thankful for it. If we can learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable, very little can hold us back. Now, friend or no friend, I’m getting my weekly sun salutations in.

The fact that I can count the number of men I’ve seen in the studio in the few weeks I’ve attended on one hand means yoga probably isn’t a high priority for them. But I’ve experienced the physical and mental benefits firsthand and I believe I’m better because of it. So I’ll continue to do it, because I’m really the only one who can prevent me from doing so. And if I’m criticized for attending yoga, then so be it. Because I’m guessing that’s what “that guy” would probably do.

And that’s fine with me. Because that’s who I’m trying not to be.

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