The coolest thing about this collaborative project, for me at least, has been the number of amazing, unique, and inspiring people I have met during the process. Nick is one of those people.
Nick is a friend of a friend, and honestly, it’s a little shocking that we haven’t met in person yet, seeing as we live in the same city and share multiple mutual friends, but that is beside the point.
When I first reached out to a couple of Nick’s friends about this Pride Month idea, they both, without hesitation, told me how perfect he would be for the project.
Reaching out to strangers, in hopes that they will bear their hearts for you, is extremely daunting, but Nick has been nothing but supportive and enthusiastic from the start, and I just can’t help but admire him for that. In fact, his initial response to my completely random text was, “Okay so I am so into this and here for it and already know what I want to do.” That. Is. Cool.
As you will quickly realize, Nick has a multitude of thought-provoking experiences and passion-driven ideas to share. His piece does a great job at highlighting some of the stereotypes that surround gay men, and how those preconceived notions played a part in his coming out journey.
I hope you all appreciate his words as much as I do. Read it here:
a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired.
Coming to terms with my sexuality was difficult enough, but the thought of coming out to my friends and family seemed impossible. I honestly never thought that day would come because I was so scared. I thought I would lose my friends, be judged and thrown to the side, and lose any respect that I thought people had for me. I didn’t even know where I would stand in the gay community. I honestly did not feel like I fit in in any community at the time.Growing up I played soccer competitively, which I think threw a lot of people off. People did not think that you could be good at a sport like soccer, basketball, or football, and be gay. This made things even harder because guys who had the word “faggot” in their daily vernacular surrounded me.
How was I supposed to say, “Oh, by the way, that is what I am….”? It also annoyed me that everyone had a certain idea of what a gay person was. Someone super flamboyant, who loved shopping and getting their hair done and blah blah blah. Yeah, of course, there are gay guys who are like that, and they are fucking fabulous and amazing, but that just wasn’t who I was or who I am. I hate shopping. I get my hair cut once a month and I dress like a Dad who just dropped his kids off at Lacrosse practice.I wanted people to know that everyone is different regardless of their sexual orientation and wanted to change people’s views on that. So that is what I did. My senior year of high school I came out to everyone in my immediate family and high school. I was sick of lying, sick of pretending to talk about hot girls (even though they were gorgina and I still live for them), and just not being authentic to who I truly was. I remember how I did it as well. We were at our Senior Beach Week, I was shithouse drunk and a Katy Perry song came on. “California Gurls”… maybe you’ve heard of it. And I remember just being a Queen and dancing on a table and telling everyone. Nobody was really that surprised. Some people were, but most were just like…. makes sense. That actually made me feel a lot better. That even though they had a hint or feeling, they still didn’t treat me differently. I had a good coming out experience; I did it and could not believe how easy it was. That is, until I left for College. When I went to College, I had a scholarship to play Division 1 Soccer and accepted that. I won’t name the school but I really did not like it. I knew I was in for a rough experience the moment I landed there, and I actually went back in the closet. Kind of like a turtle peeping it’s head out, being scared, and retreating immediately. I made some life long friend there, and they were the only ones who had my back once things got rough. I kept my sexuality a secret to a very unhealthy point. I had my best friend visit me and we bought lube and condoms and pretended to have sex. Thanks for that Caitlyn! I do not know how we did not laugh the entire time, but we made them believe it. The next day her car got towed and she was wearing a “legalize gay” shirt and my friends saw her. I fucking love that girl but what an idiot. So after that, people questioned things and eventually, I told some close friends there. Most were supportive and some weren’t. The ones that weren’t, I do not keep in touch with. I quit the team, only a few guys reached out, and the rest just talked shit about me and made sure I wasn’t invited to any parties, and that I just wasn’t included in things in general.They also, get this, DE-FRIENDED ME ON FACEBOOK. The nerve. What assholes and how dare they. So I transferred schools and my life changed for the best. I thought about what I went through there, how I overcame it, and all of the amazing support I had in my life, and that is when I had my first feeling of Pride. I was proud of what I overcame, I was proud of my family and friends for sticking by me, and I was proud of the community I was a part of. School went smoothly and all was well and then I decided upon graduating that I was going to move to New York City. I always wanted to live in New York. The idea of it made me have butterflies and it was so foreign to me. Hunnyyyy, it was the best decision I ever made. I first interned here are got a taste and once that happened, all bets were off. During my time in New York, I have witnessed many victories and tragedies in my community. I was here when gay marriage was legalized across the country. We can now just say “marriage” because gay marriage isn’t a thing. Marriage is marriage, fucking finally. I remember crying at work when that happened and I called my Mom and Dad. That was a great day. I was also here for my very first Pride March and that was an out of body experience. I never felt so normal in my life. Then I realized being normal is overrated. I was also here when the Pulse Shootings happened. I went to Stonewall for the vigil and to date, it was one of the saddest things I have ever experienced. All of those experiences are examples of what makes Pride Month so special. It is a celebration of what we have overcome and what we still have to overcome. We are so far from where we need to be, and there are so many things left to be done. Give your friends a hug, tell them you love them, give them a random compliment.
Just spread love and light because we need it now more than ever. Also, let this month be a reminder that together we will continue to fight for what is right, to not judge each other, to love and support each other, and to drink a lot of vodka sodas because calories do matter.
He also hosts his own podcast called “Nick Interviews Friends”!
Listen to it on Sound Cloud (aka binge all 7 episodes now)
Today’s piece is actually written by a friend of a friend whom I’ve never even met. I just wanted to stress this fact, because the amount of support and enthusiasm I have received about this project over the past month is so amazing/heartwarming/mind-blowing to me.
The fact that someone I don’t even know on a personal level would be so inspired to open up about her experiences for the sake of others is so crazy and beautiful.
I really enjoyed this piece because Maggie, the writer, doesn’t focus too much on specific diagnoses. She just shares times in her life where things got especially trying, and in turn, negatively impacted her already existing mental health struggles.
I think that’s an extremely important thing to remember. Mental health is a part of all of us, right? Whether good or bad. Some of us have a genetic predisposition to certain diagnoses. Some of us have more negative experiences with regards to our mental health than others. Some of us have labels that we can attach to our struggles. Regardless, we all have good and bad experiences in life, and those experiences impact our mental health. Regardless of predisposition, confirmed diagnoses, etc, our life experiences shape us and make us who we are. Our mental health is directly tied to all of that.
Maggie’s piece does a great job at explaining just how drastically certain events in her life made these kinds of impacts on her.
I am happy to share her story here:
This is difficult for me to start, because my experience with mental illness has been both a marathon and series of short, painful sprints. I didn’t meet my triggers until late in college, and didn’t know how to talk about what I was feeling until after a terrifying and heartbreaking night in the emergency room.
My case is different than some. I never worried about talking about what I was feeling. In
fact, I ALWAYS talked about what I was feeling, whether it was to someone else, or within my ever present (sometimes deafening) internal dialogue. From an early age, I was assessing and labeling what I saw, heard, smelled, tasted, and felt, and if something wasn’t right, or I wasn’t where I wanted it to be, I fixed it. Big surprise, I now work in healthcare.
When I was in high school, I experienced hardship as everyone does, and instead of dealing with the things I couldn’t understand or label, I started digging deep to bury the hard things. This continued throughout college, until I ran out of space to bury the shitty stuff. The biggest problem with this was that, because of the fact that I didn’t understand and couldn’t put a label on my feelings, I couldn’t find the means to talk about them. I wasn’t talking about what I was going through, but not because I was afraid or because I didn’t want to. I literally couldn’t. I had dealt with death and hardship, and while these are horrendous and devastating things, this was DIFFERENT. I stopped sleeping, I overate, drank an unbelievable amount, and completely stopped working out. I managed to push through the end of college with minimal visible harm, and slid into my gap year. During this year, I took my physical health to the forefront, but did not think much about my mental health. Because physicality is such a huge part of my life, my mental health
improved with the improvement of my physical health. However, I was not making a concerted effort to better myself as a whole, and I was doing myself a disservice without even knowing it. I thought my dark period in college was a come and go “rough patch” that I wouldn’t go back to, and DAMN was I absolutely wrong.
I have always been driven, determined, outgoing, outspoken, and didn’t give a flying fuck about what anyone thought about me, until I started dating the person I thought was my forever partner. We met right before I started grad school, and immediately clicked. I had never felt that way about anyone before, and things moved much too quickly. We were living together after only a few months. The fights we had were vicious and sometimes very scary for others. Things spiraled downhill almost as quickly, and I saw a side of myself that I wish to NEVER see again. I let someone else dictate my life. I made all decisions based on this person. I didn’t realize it until almost a year after the fact, but I was living in constant fear that if I said or did the wrong thing, or didn’t consistently put this other person first, that he would leave me and my one true love would be gone forever, and he didn’t let me forget it. One of our infamous fights hit an all-time low, and I tried to kill myself. Waking up to the pure sadness that I saw was the most heartbreaking thing I’ve ever experienced, and I would not wish that feeling on anyone in the world. Despite this, I stayed with this
person another two years, and it was a constant ebb and flow of amazing days and some of the ugliest days I’ve seen. I let myself get to a point where I told myself I had nowhere to go but inward. I knew what I was feeling, but I was so paralyzed by fear that if I expressed myself, he would leave and I would be left with nothing. Little did I know, I am fucking everything and more (and so are you).
Last summer, his beautiful mother passed away, and to say that it was devastating is an understatement. I didn’t deal with this loss, because I didn’t feel as though it was mine, and I knew I needed to be his rock. After this, I made the move to NYC, and I was biding my time until he was able to move up here as well. In this time, he became distant and meaner than ever. I was constantly anxious and terrified that I was doing the wrong thing. Later I came to find that he had started dating someone else, but it was just too hard for him to tell me (insert eye roll here). I. Was. Devastated. I lost 20 pounds in less than a month. I wasn’t sleeping. My work suffered, and my already broken relationships with my family and friends suffered even more.
Here comes the upswing (you knew it was coming at some point). Instead of letting this person continue to define me, I decided to redefine me. I told myself, “I live in the greatest city in the free world, take advantage and just do you boo boo”. I started just doing things that I wanted to do, whether I had someone to do them with or not. A random happy hour by myself, where I met an amazing woman my age in the same boat (WHAT?! WHY?!). Check. John Legend concert. Check. All you can eat pizza fundraiser for breast cancer. Check. Training for, and soon to run, a half marathon. Check. Signing up for my first marathon. Check. Getting accepted to a doctorate program. Check.
During this time, I worked with some of the greatest and most supportive earth angels on the planet. They took me under their wings, and didn’t comment on my obvious, rapid weight loss, they didn’t try to tell me what to do, they were just there for me even though they hadn’t known me for very long. They let me talk when I wanted to, and, most importantly, they didn’t judge me for feeling. They are now some of my best friends in the world, and if it wasn’t for this shitty situation, I wouldn’t have been able to expand my bad ass squad with these rock stars. Not only did I make new friends, but my best friends (which includes my family) were truly amazing (which is the understatement of the century). They dealt with, and still deal with, my breakdowns at all hours with unbeatable
grace and always had a kind word or a laugh to share.
I have also been able to pay it forward. I am not the only one of my friends that has struggled with one of many mental health issues. We have created an open dialogue that may look terrifying to the outside eye, but it’s our safe space. Doing this has also given me an incredible amount of perspective when I am having my bad days. We are not alone. We can do this. We are a tribe that gets shit done in grand fashion.
While I will always struggle with the need to fix and label, it’s getting easier with each day and a lot of hard work. I will never let someone else define who I am. I will continue to be the outspoken (sometimes too blunt), funny, lighthearted person I always was, but my bad days are quite a bit different now. I know the bad feelings will not last forever. I know that I am not only enough, but I go above and beyond. I have a bad ass team behind me, and I don’t have a clue how I got so lucky to have them all in my life. I am a mother fucking queen.
So I’ve decided I’m going to do things a little differently this month… I’m going to start sharing mental health related content created by other people too. I know this blog is called “Krump Writes”, ya ya ya wutever ok, bear with me.
The whole purpose of this blog is to raise awareness about concepts and ideas that I feel are being stigmatized, right? Mental Health, Sexuality, etcetc. When I started, my whole thought process behind this blog was just to share experiences with the abyss that is the internet in hopes that some people would see it and understand that this shyt ain’t nothin’ to ashamed of. Literally should that be my tag line??? THIS SHYT AIN’T NOTHIN’ TO BE ASHAMED OF OK.
No, but in all seriousness. This blog obviously started with posts just written by me, hence the name, but I don’t think it needs to stay that way, at least not this month.
SO I’ve reached out to some friends and I’ve asked if they could share some of their experiences related to their mental health for the month of May. I got resounding yes’s across the board (thnx guys!!!!), so hopefully this works out and I have some cool shit written by some even cooler peeps to share over the course of this month.
Along with that, I’m going to try to share some videos and other content that I think is relevant…….because ya know I’m not the only one dealing with these things, le duh!!
I feel a LITTLE like this is a cop out so that I don’t have to challenge myself to write a lot this month……ha, so I’m still going to be sharing my own thoughts and experiences too.
**Also, If you happen to be reading this and want to share your own experiences via this blog, feel free to email me: email@example.com (or click the icon that looks like an envelope in my header), or message me by clicking the button on the top right corner of the screen . You can also request that your post remain anonymous!!**
Woot woot Cinco De Mayo let’s all get drunk k bye
I have been avoiding writing for so long because I feel like
nothing I can say will have as much weight as my previous post.
I’m usually pretty hard on myself about writing too. I’m not
the most eloquent or the most creative or the most unique, so why would I write
publicly if my words don’t have meaning to anyone aside from myself? What’s the
point of creating content if it’s not influential or moving?
It is so easy to get lost in that mindset. And it’s
especially easy for me to take that doubt and insecurity and let it manifest
Also, for lack of a better euphemism, I feel like I have
just been existing recently, and I don’t find that worth expressing. Living in
New York City can be such a liberating experience, but recently I think I have
taken that for granted.
As silly as it may sound, I came to the realization that I have been in this rut after watching the last few episodes of Girls. That show
always ignited this sense of passion within me. It made me excited about my 20′s
and spending that time in Manhattan with best friends and new adventures and
romance and heartbreak and passion and wonder and love. I know that may sound
dumb, but I always had these high hopes for my time spent here.
Don’t get me wrong, living in Manhattan has been so worthwhile
thus far, but it’s just much too easy for me to get stuck in routines, lose
track of aspirations, and become bland.
Throughout high school and college I immersed myself in
people. I collected friends like trading cards and I used these friendships as
a protective blanket. I loved those times in my life. I loved those people I
met and the experiences I had. But this is the first time in almost 10 years
that I’ve felt devoid of this safety blanket and I’m still learning to navigate
without it. I think we all need to be reminded once in a while that loneliness
can be constructive though.
My point in this is that not every experience in life will
be a liberating high or a thought provoking low. Yes, it is much more moving to
express those two extremes, but the in-between can have just as much weight
too. Overlooking the in-betweens leads to immobility. That’s where I am at
I’ve been thinking a lot about confidence lately. For the longest time I thought there was a direct correlation between confidence and perfection. I thought the more flawless a person was, the more self-assured they must be.
Broken is beautiful. Flaws are beautiful. Flaws are POWERFUL.
I sure as hell am not perfect. I have a lot of inner demons I still have to conquer. But I have such a drastically different appreciation for myself and those demons now than I ever had before.
Life is too fucking short to spend time pitying yourself for your imperfections and shortcomings.
Love. Yourself. First. and release your inner power/strength/beauty and never apologize for it.
When I was 13 years old, my best friend Brittany and I used to constantly daydream about living in New York City when we grew up. We used to have these elaborate plans to work in film and fashion and live in this beautiful apartment overlooking all the lights of the city. I so so SO vividly remember listening to The Fray’s self titled album on repeat alone in my bedroom in suburban Pennsylvania, idealizing my future self and my cool, successful, big city life.
It’s funny because here I am, over 10 years later, still idealizing this future, successful, happy version of myself. I know I sound like a broken record, but I would have never expected my life at age 24 to be the way it is.
Don’t get me wrong, part of that is a great thing. I went to a college I loved more than I ever could have imagined, and I met friends that showed me sense of love and support that I had never experienced before. I spent a year in DC and I loved (almost) every single minute of it. I traveled to some amazing places, met some amazing people, and I’ve made memories I never thought possible.
But I think as a kid dreaming about my future, I never accounted for the struggles I was bound to face. My young, naive self always assumed that the older I got, the happier I would become. I spent so much of my childhood being bullied and feeling like an outcast, that I assumed that with age came confidence and the ability to withstand any negativity thrown my way.
For a while that was pretty true. High school and college were a collection of almost entirely happy memories for me. I felt more popular, more confident, more mature, more independent, and overall more happy. But post-grad hit me like a brick wall. My family fell apart, my career didn’t come easy, my confidence plummeted, and my mental heath suffered.
It’s been so easy for me to pity myself, especially recently, because I feel like I’ve had a lot more emotional low points over the past few months. But I want to take a step back and realize how much I have to be proud of. Yes, I have a long way to go, but I’m making my little middle school self’s dream reality and that is pretty cool!!
I wish I felt more excited about it. I’ve been having an extra difficult time feeling upbeat about anything recently and not only is that obviously sad, but it’s so so frustrating. Knowing that something that used to make you happy doesn’t anymore is such a confusing feeling.
I think this move is going to be a step in the right direction, though. I took a big risk leaving DC for a job in NYC. The past 6 months of commuting has all been leading up to this moment. I wonder what my 13 year old self would think of me now.