Teenage emo’s becoming adult empaths
When I look back to my teenage days, I was pretty angsty. Along with many teens of the late 90s-early 2000’s era, I went through a series of alternative “looks”. From grunge to goth, to emo, I relished in absorbing myself in the freedom of my self-expression with many piercings, multiple air colours and thick, dark eyeliner that made my eyes pop!
This angsty period of life, isn’t particularly new for most people. Many teenagers dabble in how they look and wanting to “rebel” against their parents and society. But for me, it was different. I grew up in a more “alternative” household where my siblings and I shared a passion for various genres of rock, metal and gothic music. On the walls of our house were framed film posters from Batman and the Nightmare before Christmas, next to big photos of the Ramones and the Misfits.
In our house, we connected deeply with music. We collected it, listened to it together and went to alternative gigs as a family. I remember seeing my little sister crowd surfing when she was about 15 and accidentally kicking my Dad in the head!
My teenage passions weren’t just a fad, they became the foundations of my empathic nature, of which I have only come to appreciate and recognize as an adult. The music I listened to then, I still love now. My Spotify playlist is a blast from the past of all the songs that I deeply loved then and still deeply love.
Being a teenage emo made sense to me because you were truly allowed to be “emotional”. You didn’t have to hide it, you could wear your emotional badge with pride. Feeling connected to the music was normal. Being passionate about the bands you loved created empathic communities. Meeting people who loved bands and songs as much as I did, was my first real experience of empathy – I just didn’t know it at the time. Fans fed off each other’s love and passions for the band. We felt connected and understood the artists that sang their most heartfelt sorrows on the stage. Everyone felt “heard” for the first time. It was really quite special.
For people that weren’t ever into the emo scene – it might sound a bit strange or dramatic. But for those who were there, I often wonder where you are now if you still love the music and if you’ve turned into an empathic adult as I have?
Being a teenage emo and an empathic adult are so connected that now it all makes sense to me. I never understood “fairweather fans”, who follow the music trends and then go onto the next “big thing”. For me, music and art, are like oxygen in my lungs, a lifeline running through my veins. Supportive, breathing life into me and connecting me to myself, my purpose and my community.
But as you get older, the eyeliner gets thinner, the clothes become lighter and the emotions start retracting. Parts of your “emo identity” slowly started fading away, without you even realizing. And when you get your first “proper” job, suddenly your emotions have shut up shop way back into your heart and stay there until you get home and can let it all out. Seems a shame right?
Whilst I have moved mostly away from my previous emo ways, there are some things that I still love from my emo hey-days that I still have as an adult.
How you can embrace your inner emo as an adult empath
Listen to emo music at work
Whether this is rock royalty such as Placebo or good ol’ emo giants My Chemical Romance, nothing puts me in a better mood or gets me pumped up more than listening to my personalized emo Spotify playlist. Make a playlist of the tunes you love and listen to them at work, on the train or at the gym and pour your heart out!
Bring back the skater shoes
Do you remember the old Converse, Vans or Sketchers that you used to have? Bring back a bit of 90s nostalgia and buy an adult pair! You’re older, wiser, earn more money now and they were pretty damn comfy…
Visit a rock bar
It’s been a while since I’ve wailed out loud in public to AFI and The Used, but jump online and find your nearest rock/alternative venue and find your people! There are many alternative music nights around, some with good tribute bands, local live music or a good old rock-disco playing all the tunes you used to love. Nothing will make you feel younger and more nostalgic than a room full of headbanging 30-year-olds, pint in hand, Converse on the feet, air-guitaring the night away.
Rock your piercings and tatts
Our generation must be one of the most pierced and tattooed yet. Many workplaces are starting to become more open about showing these off in the office and if yours is too, why not done a few more earrings, put a stud back in your nose and wear a top that makes your tattoos pop! It’ll be a conversation starter and you won’t have to feel like you’re hiding anything anymore. The more people see it, the more “normal” it will be and soon people won’t even see them anymore.
If you’ve got an all-time favourite band, why not get an arty canvas made to display on your wall? It could be an album cover print, a photo from a live show you went to or an illustrated portrait of your favourite artist. An adult alternative to the magazine posters that donned our teenage walls, these prints will add character to your home whilst being unique and a great reminder of a different era!
Now we’re adults with an adult income, we can really make the most of going to music festivals (as they can be pretty damn expensive!). In Australia, Download Festival is back for it’s second year in Melbourne 2019 and for the first time in Sydney. After we lost the Soundwave rock festivals, this is a welcome return to the rock scene down under! If you’re based in Europe or the States, wow, you’ve got a lot of awesome choices! From the original Download festival (aka Donnington) and Reading festivals in the UK to the incredible Rock-am-Ring in Germany and Lollapalooza in Chicago, there’s so much choice for rock music fans everywhere.
Were you an emo as a teenager? Do you identify as an empathic or sensitive adult now? I’d love to hear about your experiences and thoughts in the comments below!