Were you emo in middle or high school? Do you have photos of you with wacky hairstyles that destroyed your scalp and only made sense to the people who got you? I never thought I would say this, but if your scene phase was only a phase that’s perfectly fine. The thing is, the scene/emo/punk culture has a lot to do with pain, and processing our emotions. We’re bullied for being weird or different, some of us are battling severe mental illnesses or messed up situations we can’t get away from, etc. We all need help sometime, and if you’re anything like me, those opening piano chords in Welcome To The Black Parade are just what the doctor ordered. That lifestyle, that music, was made to be felt, and helps millions of people get through struggles. But, just like Cassadee Pope, Brian Dales or Hayley Williams, who all went from fronting pop punk to being solo pop artists, people outgrow the music, maybe even the community, and go in a different direction, and that’s okay.
How many jokes have you heard about the emo kid telling his mom “it’s not a phase”? A hundred? A thousand? Personally I’ve lost count. The funny thing is, for me, I’ve actually only gotten more punk over the years. In the beginning I was only into pop rock and pop punk, now I like metal too. In fact, these days, one of my favorite bands is Rings of Saturn, whose genre is described as industrial deathcore. As a kid I had a serious phobia of needles, now I’m constantly itching to get my next tattoo. I went from being scared of large groups to feeling most at home in mosh pits. I mean, just look at this photo of me and my two best friends. We look like we’re headed to a show, but it was just a normal day.
One thing that always stirs controversy for the punk community, is people who treat us like a bad choice they made in their teens. In truth, that is the only real wrong thing. Don’t use us as the scapegoat when you decide to change. Don’t blame the musical or the people for dumb decisions you made. It’s okay to say you outgrew it, it’s okay to say you don’t feel connected with it, but don’t act like it corrupted you. There are toxic people everywhere around the world, and they don’t all wear combat boots. Being blamed for others, or shamed for being ourselves, is extremely painful. For example, I once dated this girl who dealt with serious depression, and almost every night, I’d have to remind her that life was worth living, and beg her not to commit suicide. A few months after she got out of a psych ward, she cut ties with me, and a few weeks later, was blaming her mental instability on our relationship. Situations like that, or school shooter jokes, are never okay. We’re all looking for our peace of mind, finding yours shouldn’t cost someone else theirs. So grow, and as long as the direction you grow in is a good one, that’s great.