Last night I couldn't sleep, so I pulled up YouTube on my tablet to watch some videos, and I looked up a video by the Offspring that always stuck with me: Gotta Get Away. This video came out in 1993 I believe, so I would have been 13. Grunge was starting to become popular, and so many taboo things were becoming mainstream. The reason this particular video has stuck with me for so long is that it was really the first time I had been exposed in mainstream culture to people with body modifications. In this video there is a bald young man with two septum rings and pierced nipples, and young men covered in tattoos. Something in me clicked. Something felt right. The music of the 1990's fueled my creativity, Bands like Type O Negative brought a dark aesthetic that I identified with. The lyrics had meaning, and I would often listen for hours while writing poetry or drawing. As a teenager who had (as of yet undiagnosed) depression, I felt that deep connection, and I didn't feel alone.
Anyone who has known me for a long time knows I have always dressed in black (to the point that when I started wearing pink my Mom asked if I was okay) and have been into heavier makeup. I had a spiked collar, and lots of jewelry. I dabbled in Goth, got my toes a little wet. I used white face paint instead of foundation (WHY) and always wanted to be serious and sombre in pictures. At 15, I discovered Wicca. As I got older my spiritual beliefs evolved away from Wicca to general Paganism and my makeup improved (no more white face paint, thank god). I still wore primarily black, and I listened to a lot of metal, darker music, and a lot of other genres.
Goth culture has become more and more accessible to me via the Internet. I held back a lot when I was younger because I was the literal black sheep of my friend group. Even now, I don't know any other Goths, really. I was also afraid of the elitism in the subculture, and ostracism by "normal" society. One thing I have learned as an adult, as I advance into my 30's, is to stop caring what other people think. I got my first tattoo at 30. I started my second one at 32. Now, at 35, I have my snakebites pierced. I have wanted that piercing since I can remember. At least 17 years. And now I have it. I know a lot of people would think I'm trying to act young, or that I'm going through a phase, but I assure you, I'm not. This is who I always have been, just held back by fear. So I have the black claws, I have the tattoos, I have the piercing. Granted, I always say Goth is how you feel inside, not necessarily how you look, but I feel so much more comfortable in my skin being able to visually express myself. I may not have the awesome clothes (they're expensive and I'm useless at DIY anything) but I feel liberated and happy. I'm not trying to please anyone else any more, which is the cycle I keep getting into. I'm pleasing myself. I'm happy. And I'm still me.