If you haven’t already, please read the introduction post. That will give you context for this page.
I tried to find a way to write this as 4 different posts, because I know we’re getting near the end of the list and some of you who have let me know you look forward to these weekly posts. But it didn’t feel right as 4 different posts, even though it’s 4 different labels. Sorry. In my next life, I’ll try to be more objectionable.
These days, I see myself as a richly multi-faceted person. I like what I like, even if it seems at odds with other things I like. I wear the clothes that make me happy, even if others—including friends—don’t know how to classify me. That such classifications are important to humans is a thing I’ve felt and kind of understood, but that also has always seemed a little silly. (The need to classify others is silly, to be clear. I don’t think figuring out who you are or figuring out that you truly fit quite neatly into some specific label is necessarily silly.)
The anger and aggression and political disgust of punk speak to me. The acceptance of darkness and depression and pale skin and loads of black clothing and makeup of goth spoke to me. Plus, I like the music and aesthetics of both and the fact that both are spaces with room for people who aren’t typical, that celebrate that. It’s a nice contrast to being made to feel like a lesser person for the fact that I’m not normal.
Of course, when you’re visibly punk or goth, all the normal kids shame you. It’s so expected that loving family and authority figures will say, “Of course they harass you. What do you expect when you look like that?” (For the record, it’s not okay and you shouldn’t have to expect it.)
But I wasn’t ashamed. And I’m not ashamed now. I loved (and still mostly do) all the good things I found in being punk and goth. And there’s nothing requisite about being either that’s harmful. Sure, your looks can make some people uncomfortable, but anything else that’s usually attributed to one of those as part of a negative stereotype can be found outside them as well. And I was part of some great community…
Until I wasn’t. Until I realised that my tastes and aesthetics and interests stretched outside that to extents that, apparently, suddenly earned me the derision of those still firmly planted in punk or goth. So, basically, humans are kind of prone to being crummy towards people outside their group. Even the subcultural humans. None of us get to feel morally superior on that point.
Interestingly, I’ve had multiple experiences where people assumed that I was saying they sucked when I didn’t think they were in the same group as I was. Because, as humans, we are hardwired from an evolutionary perspective to crave belonging and to assume that any kind of not belonging means there must be hatred and mocking and so forth.
The thing is…we are no longer wandering tribes that have to beat each other to limited resources. At least not in most the western world. And, much to my delight, it seems like the lines between subcultures and genres are blurring…I’ve also learned, as an adult, to get along with all kind of people with whom I share very few tastes or beliefs in common. (Though I still insist on some serious overlap in a romantic relationship. But that’s a whole other story.)
Which is to say that it is silly to treat different as dangerous. And it isn’t helpful to assume that being different to another person makes us less cool.
You know what’s cool? Being genuinely you. There’s a lot of power for you there. Plus, the friends you make are friends with real you, not the person you’re pretending to be. That’s how you make real real friends.
So, yeah, I have thrown myself full into punk and goth. No shame. And I’ve still got those facets. No shame. But I have other facets and inclinations. Again, no shame. I’m going to like the things I like and wear the things I want to wear and enjoy the friends who outlasted my self-discovery.
Oh, and apologies in advance if you try to shove me into a single facet and I get snippy. I just really refuse to be single-faceted again and I’ll thank you not to push it. (Also, please don’t mistake my objections as hatred of things I’ve been. It’s the single facet thing I’m against. I’m cool with goths and punks and all sorts of people.)
Cross-posted to the Not Ashamed section of my site (so that it’s all tidy).