In the spirit of full disclosure, I was always a little outcast. When you go to private Catholic school K-8 with 30 kids in each grade, the social norms that were set at age 5 stuck till graduation. I was designated as unpopular, a loser and an outcast. Since that was better than pretending to like and be like the “popular” kids, I designated myself apart from the majority too. In this role, I kept to myself by reading books and making art, all doing so in the safety of my uniform navy blue hoodie and long pants. I was a little creative creep sure. Loving Tim Burton movies, scary books, and pictures, my drawings all being done in black outline pen and was totally engulfed in Twilight and other dark fictional novels, I suppose were all things that lead people to believe I was a dark little kid. I remember when I was ten years old, and another little boy came up to me on the playground and asked blatantly “are you goth?”, as if that was even a question versus an accusation at that point. But I wouldn’t let anyone paint some label on me that I did not put there myself. I genuinely don’t remember my response to him, butI affirmed his assertion. I had never thought of myself as “goth” before. But I was, and I was because it was a safe place for the outcasts like me. It was okay for me to be a freak and a loner because the darkness was a safe place for others like me to be normal and away from everyone else who labeled me as such.
I owned it for a long time I really did. See, looking back now, I can see that me being in the little box segregated from everyone else, was not a result of others outcasting me so much as me outcasting myself. I did it so that I could take away their satisfaction. I did it to myself so that they could not do it to me. I did it to survive and I don’t regret it, but my little outcast box of darkness was hostile towards anyone who tried to come in or tried to get me out. I owned the goth brand and the more books I read, and movies and shows I watched with similar characters, only encouraged it and inspired me. But was it really who I was equally as much as who others saw me as? Today I can see, they pushed me into it and I was forced to take it on as my own. We all had our methods of surviving our adolescent years, and it probably took more than we think to get ourselves out of those methods of survival in order to move on. Maybe that meant being a jerk, maybe that meant being a “nerd” or a blockhead jock. Somewhere along the way, a slight interest caused others to push the entirety of you into a section of you. We must asses, is this who I am? Is this what I want and who I want to be? Or is that what others want to see? This level of self-reflection is incredibly hard to measure sometimes, and you might find yourself in a bind before you realize the method you’ve used to survive for some time. However, it is apart of the human journey to have this level of self-realization and be honest with who we are. This self-honesty started to happen in high school.
When I graduated 8th grade, 30 people became 1,200 and I could be whoever I wanted. There were no more predetermined statuses and labels that were pointless to fight. I could be who I truly was and no one would know the difference. Doing just that, it was nice to get to know people, and others get to know me without this preconceived notion of being “goth”. I started to make my own friends, but my survival habits were more ingrained than I realized. Having been alone in my box for so long, I wasn’t used to catering to another human beings needs or emotions before, and having been ridiculously hard and tough on myself my whole life, it was certainly hard to be compassionate and empathetic towards this other person. Like hey, being goth meant that if I had any emotions, I kept them to myself and never let anyone around me know if I was sad, mad or upset, certainly not due to anything they did either. Can’t give them the satisfaction of course. So when others showed their emotions, I was boggled. How the… what the… in order to help them, I had to leave my box, something I had never dared do before. It took time, patience and the love of others to coax me out of my dark hidey hole, and let me know that I did not need to segregate myself. That I could trust people not to leave or label me. I had been forced into being “goth” and made it my own in order to survive, so since then, I steered clear of that part of my path. I hadn’t really worn black in years, read more adventurous and happier books, and overall was just less of a dark creep because I wanted to be my own person now and leave my forced past behind me.
There is something to be admired about the goth community, and it is that they are unafraid to be who they are. They acquire weird glares and even fear due to some dark, “scary”, absence and seemingly “out there”, aesthetic. Many times however, I have met people who met this visual description and they have been the kindest and funniest people I’ve ever met. Is it so much about being dark, creepy or scary as it is being oneself? Being different and unafraid in a society who so desperately wants to make everyone the same? I believe it is and I have made my way back to being “goth”, but this time not because it was forced onto me as a method of survival. I’m honest with the fact I feel mysterious and free. Black is the color of protection and boldness, as the darkness has always protected me from a society who tried to tell me who I could and could not be. It’s the color of androgyny, as it has no gender or attributes aesthetic appeal for anyone. And being “goth” is more than wearing black of course either. I’m honest with myself about my weirdness, and my interests in comparison to society! And so should you! Don’t let anyone or anything tell you who you should be. Life is not only figuring out who you are but having the boldness to be it and the fierceness to protect it with everything you’ve got.