The End of Selfie 2K14

It's been a year.

A year since I decided to conquer my self doubts about my appearance and take selfies. As many selfies as I could take. No matter what the situation was I needed to take more selfies. 

I did it. 

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I took so many selfies that I had to leave out some. Looking back at this time last year I only had a few photos to choose from. A few times in which I took pride in my appearance. So for 365 days out of the year I tried to do that. 

Halfway through March I realized that I didn't have to always like myself.

I just always had to be true to myself. 

Years of insecurity and self doubt no longer to the front seat in my mind when I looked in the mirror. Instead I saw myself. I saw myself existing with happy moments. I saw myself existing with moments of struggle. 

I saw myself existing. 

That's all that mattered.

Seeing the moments of joy and sadness in which make my life. I enjoyed being able to go back and recall those moments. To see how I got threw them. To see how I got under my own skin and pushed through. I realized that I was allowed to cry just as much as I was allowed to laugh. I was allowed to feel whatever I felt at any moment in time because all of my emotions were valid.

2014 overall was not a friend of mine. Talk about being on the struggle bus and making every struggle stop on route to get to Struggle Central the capital of Struggletopia. It was rough. 

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But then there were also a lot of highlights. 

I got to be brave and tell my story. 

I got to meet amazing leaders and personal heroes that have inspired me. 

I got to meet and working with amazing young activists who are going to change the world even more than they're already doing. 

Beautiful humans doing amazing things. SPARK Media Justice Camp QP 2014

Beautiful humans doing amazing things. SPARK Media Justice Camp QP 2014

I got to grow and love my body, soul, and existence more than I ever thought possible in 2014. Which is what I'm always striving to do. I'm always trying to grow and push myself beyond my comfort zone for the better. 

So here's to you, 2014.  Nah. Scratch that.

Here's to you, Jordan Scruggs.

You set out to love yourself more. You set out to remind yourself of your inner and outer beauty. You decided to take action and love yourself despite what external and internal voices might say. 

And you did it.

Absence of Hope

I've made previous mentions about my battle with depression here.

But I've never really spoken about it until now. 

Which is a mistake. 

If you've ever met me face to face, then you've probably noticed that I like to make people laugh. It makes me feel good and it makes others feel good. So why not do it? Why not make jokes? Why not make others forget about their problems and have some endorphins flowing through their mind and soul instead?

What you never saw was the fact that I was depressed. Severely depressed. As in I attempted suicide at the age of 16 and later on came close at the ages of 18 and 19. 

Most of you reading this right now are in a sense of disbelief. That's because you know me. You know that I support people to the fullest and I support them in being who they are and loving who they are. 

But that doesn't mean I was/am always okay with loving who I am 100%. 

Know this.

Depression is a real disease. 

Mental health in general is something that a lot of cultures throw to the side. It's something that's shunned. Seeking help for mental health is often seen as a weakness. It's seen as something that one can "get over". 

We need to stop this. 

Why did it take me so long to get help about my depression?

I didn't know it was a real thing. By that I didn't know it was a real thing that people could get help for. I thought that it was me making up problems. I thought it was just me. I wrote it off as something that wasn't serious. I wrote it off as another part of me that I needed to get over. 

I needed to get help. 

I never knew that it was more than "being sad". It's almost exactly as J.K. Rowling described. 

"It's so difficult to describe depression to someone who's never been there, because it's not sadness. I know sadness. Sadness is to cry and to feel. But it's that cold absence of feeling...It is that absence of hope."

And it truly is difficult to explain to someone who's never been depressed. But the loss of hope is the number one thing. 

I think the biggest problem is that people don't know what to do. They don't know what depression looks like. They don't know that there are resources out there for them. People don't know the facts about depression or suicide. People don't know that it's different for everyone.  

I also wasn't sad 24/7. I was happy. I was and still am surrounded by a loving family. Yet it's not enough.

My heart sincerely hurts every single damn time I hear of suicide. Whether they were a stranger, celebrity, or a friend of a friend. My heart hurts. 

All this to say I believe the best way to diminish depression and suicide. Is to take them seriously. Take mental health seriously. Don't blame people for their depression. It's just as serious of a disease as cancer. It's just as invisible until it isn't. Check out the links below for more information. 

If you are depressed and overwhelmed and don't know what to do... 

Please reach out. Take that first step. Your life matters. Your existence matters. Do not be ashamed of needing help.

Click the links below. I want you to find the help you need. I want you to understand the statements I just said above.

I may not know you but I care about your existence and the life you have.

Much love.

- Jordan Scruggs

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

The Trevor Project

National Institute of Mental Health

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention:Preventing Suicide

Legendary.

When I was very young I found a book on my grandmother’s coffee table.

“I Dream A World: Portraits of Black Women Who Changed America” was the title.

In my mind these women were legendary. They were icons. They were the almost untouchable dream because I couldn’t grasp the concept of ever being that good at life that I inspired others. 

Every time I would visit my grandparents I would go through that book and read every biography and run my fingers across the faces of these strong women and be in awe. I often wondered if I could write another one. Write another one that would include all of the legendary women and men in my life that seemed to change the world for me.

I was surrounded by adults who showed me strength, beauty, resiliency, laughter, and prayer. But most of all they showed me the power of love.

For the people that know me, hearing me say the words “I have social anxiety” or “I’m shy.” might come off as a lie. It’s not. I’m also an incredibly private person. Not out of shame, just out of the desire of not wanting everyone to know everything about me. Let’s bring these three together. I often feel overwhelmed by how much I feel. I very rarely feel things halfway. Whether it’s a negative or positive emotion that emotion is at 100%.

Even though I was surrounded by love through family and friends, I had a hard time loving myself. I stressed whether loving myself would bring pain to my family. I was convinced that my mere existence would harm them in any way. Society placed doubt in my mind that my family’s love would continue if I told them who I was. So I hid myself. I decided it would be best for everyone if I kept myself secluded internally. I refused to open up to anyone. I refused to be myself around anyone in order to protect everyone.

I was 10 years old when I made that decision.

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It took me another 10 to realize that it was time to love myself.

10 years of a battle with depression. 10 years of loneliness. 10 years of self hatred. 10 years of denying my own existence.

Even now I still have moments where I allow external voices and the words of strangers seep in and tell me that those 10 years were truth.

When I turned 20 years old I was exhausted. I was running on the fumes of unsaid lies. I was no longer allowing myself to feel the love and strength that my family had surrounded me with.

I came out and never looked back.

I didn’t wave a flag. I didn’t lead a parade. I didn’t throw up rainbows.

I just...started loving myself.

I stopped apologizing for my heart. I stopped hating my existence.

I stopped hating my maker for creating me the way I am.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you. Before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” - Jeremiah 1:5

I have always been the prophet that love can heal the world.

There are so many different forms of love in the world. I spent 10 years denying myself love in any form and it almost ruined me. I will forever be an advocate for love. Loving my family. Loving my friends. Loving my neighbors living in some house in some place I’ve never heard of.

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”  - 1 Peter 4:8

I don’t expect everyone to approve of my life. I actually expect that I might lose a few friends. But I’m not writing this to seek approval or permission from anyone.

I’m writing this because I am an advocate for love and I am not ashamed of it. I’m proud of the work that I do that allow others peace, support, and happiness. I'm writing this because this is me striving to be someone's legend. Striving to be in that book that inspire someone else.

I’m proud of the amount of love I put back in the world.

Neighborly love. Relationship love.

Spiritual love.  Agape love.

Self love.

So from my heart to yours,

Go. Be happy. Love others. Love yourself. Love the earth. Just love, ya know?

Jordan Scruggs

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#BlackPowerIsForBlackMen: Letters from Brothers Writing to Live

#BlackPowerIsForBlackMen: Letters from Brothers Writing to Live

We are a collective of black men dedicated to challenging the ideas of black masculinity and manhood through the written word. Through our work we explore the ugliest parts of ourselves and our community, in the hope that we can illuminate the beauty that we know exists as well. We challenge each other daily to create and be more than what this racist, patriarchal society has raised us to be. But simply wanting it will not do. It requires tons of hard work, and much of that work includes listening to our sisters, black women, who tend to bear the brunt of our messiness. Unfortunately, in this regard, we have been woefully absent.

 

When the hashtag #Blackpowerisforblackmen, created by Ebony.com editor Jamilah Lemeiux, took over Twitter, it was a clear sign that we haven’t been doing enough. Thousands of our sisters (and brothers) tweeted for hours about the imbalance in our community. We, black men, tend to pride ourselves on our anti-white racial supremacy activism but often fail to reach out and consider the pain and trauma faced by the women in our lives. Our culture actively denigrates the very existence of black women. We take their love, support, nourishment, and spiritual presence for granted. As a whole, black men have not reciprocated our love and support in a way that affirms the humanity and dignity of black womanhood in the face of white supremacy, patriarchy, heterosexism, homophobia, transphobia, misogyny, sexual violence, physical and verbal abuse.

#Blackpowerisforblackmen became the call, and as black men dedicated to fighting alongside our sisters, we have taken up the responsibility of answering. As individuals, we recognize where we have fallen short, and as a community we make a promise to participate in deep self-reflection and correction. 

This ain’t just an apology; it’s a commitment.