In 8th grade, I dressed up in My Chemical Romance cosplay for Halloween. In 9th grade, I dressed up in My Chemical Romance cosplay for Halloween again, except somehow worse. Between the ages of 11 and 15, when I wasn’t in my school uniform, I was in a band t-shirt from Hot Topics, black leggings, and eyeliner that piled up in my lashes and was the bane of my mother’s existence. I envied the MySpace “scene queens” of the early 2000s and used Tumblr as my social media of choice. One summer, I went to camp with blue hair, and because of the hygiene practices (or lack thereof) at an outdoor sleepaway camp, it turned a seaweed green by the time I got home. I would listen to music so loudly through my earbuds that others around me would constantly ask me to turn it down. Was I popular? No. Was I a little overbearing? Absolutely.
I grew out of my emo phase during my freshman year of high school. After growing apart from a friend who was just as weird as I was, I lost my connection to a lot of what was happening in the scene. I found new friends: Catholic friends, friends in the choir, friends with sheltered childhoods and conservative parents. I still cherish these friendships today. I often wonder, however, who I would have become if I had never “grown out of it.” I traded in the Sleeping with Sirens and Of Mice and Men for Drake and Kanye, and when I did listen to “emo” music, I limited myself to Halsey and Twenty One Pilots. I let my hair grow naturally again, and I learned how to put on eyeliner without causing optical damage. If I hadn’t lost my old friends, I can’t even imagine who I would be today.
In my sophomore year of college, I joined a sorority at the University of Alabama. When I’m not wearing Lululemon, I’m in a pink cowboy hat and a fringe skirt from Amazon. I envy the influencers who live in NYC and make money from just existing. I let my hair be its natural color, and I rarely wear makeup to class. Not only that, but I turn down my AirPods when I’m around people as a sign of courtesy, even when “Dear John” by Taylor Swift is playing. Am I popular? I’m not sure. Am I a little overbearing? I’m not sure about that either. All I know is that sometimes I have dance parties to Pierce the Veil, and sometimes I use a little too much liner, and sometimes I miss the girl I used to be.
I don’t know if I’ll ever go back to that phase of my life. Sure, I miss it sometimes, but I’m proud of the person I’ve become. In short, my emo phase was character building. I look back and laugh at myself, but I also have a lot of gratitude for who I was.