What's Your Word: Resilient

Marissa Southards

When you meet Jessica Ruby, there is an energy that surrounds her where you know it is her mission to get things accomplished, because having them done is not sufficient. In sitting for the second cycle of The Awakenings Project, it seems fitting she would choose the word resilient.

Jessica heard about The Awakenings Project as a volunteer for CHARIS, the St. Louis Women’s Chorus as one of the CHARIS members had sat for the project. After seeing the community and interest The Awakenings Project garnered via Facebook, she was definite in her desire to be a participant.  After her
time as a participant in A2 (the second cycle of The Awakenings Project), she was contacted by the artist, Marissa Southards, to be a part of the burgeoning The Awakenings Project Media Team as well. 

For Jessica, this project has been an inspirational experience. So, for her to be able to witness others being empowered, and in her words ‘cheer on other participants’, she jumped at the chance to become involved with what has now been quantified and classified as a movement.

In choosing the word resilient, Jessica described her process of choosing that word, this way: “At first I was thinking of all of the “feel good/warm and fuzzy” words that I could describe myself, such as: dedicated, thoughtful, empath, sensitive and selfless. I asked my best friend for some input. She agreed [to help me find me word] and said that I was definitely all of those adjectives, but she
mentioned the many struggles that I’ve conquered and suggested that perhaps I used a word that represented more of my strength. I chose resilient because like many women, I have experienced oppression, but I kept getting back up and going back for more. Due to traumatic events, I experience the pain of anxiety and depression. I am a part of the LGBTQIA community, so I’ve felt marginalized and like ‘less than’ for most of my life. I feel like resilient represents being faced with adversity and despite wanting to desperately give up, I kept returning, trying to beat the odds.

With Jessica being so transparent, it could be assumed that she would be a stout feminist. When asked, Jessica considers herself a person who believes in equality and equity for all human beings regardless of their sex, gender expression, race or ethnicity. She goes on to say this, “For generations, I feel that there has been a negative connotation associated with the word “feminist”, because people might be misinformed or they have drawn their own conclusions, relating it to hating men of being very liberal.”

Jessica, in acknowledging her beliefs and community, reveals her passion and activism for her aligned community. For her, a simple definition of a feminist is being an advocate of women's rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes. “ As the “L” in the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Transgender, Queer) community, I feel drawn to inform my friends, family, and community members via many platforms about the inequalities that all women and all members of the LGBTQ community experience.  It’s crucial to continue to fight for fair and equal treatment for all.”

With the desire to change the world, and perhaps leave it a little better, it is certain that Jessica is implementing her word in everyday life. In implementing her personal resilience, and the revolutionary act of being resilient, Jessica says she has tried to remember the experience of her photo shoot and how  empowered it made her feel.  Even though she didn’t see her photo immediately after the session, when she did, she describes seeing herself as vulnerable, innocent and transparent.  It is freeing and sometimes confusing to Jessica because she has struggled with low self-esteem. However, she credits
The Awakenings Project for helping her confront these things which have held her hostage and less accepting of herself.

Jessica closes her interview with this reflection,  “Throughout the last year, I’ve struggled with all of the political happenings and attempts of growing oppression for many that seems to be at every turn.  I’ve tried to remember that although I am an empath, and very dedicated to others in my life, I can also be
very resilient when up against challenges and obstacles.  I’ve realized that in order to have the strength to remain resilient, I must practice self care to be the most effective version of myself…for myself, my wife, my friends and my community.”

Jessica Ruby is a 2012 St. Louis, Missouri transplant via Cleveland, Ohio and St. Petersburg, Florida. She loves traveling and being immersed in other cultures, and recently fell in love with Italy on a honeymoon with her wife, Christina. Although sometimes, Jessica does admit she can get in her own way, she strives
for balance in life and will always be a seeker of growth and healing experiences.

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