Firstly, I'd like to apologise for not posting yesterday, I ended up heading to my boyfriend's house straight after work and unexpectedly staying there very late. I told you April was not a good month - but I'm planning to try for at least two or three posts a day over the coming week to make up for my laxness. Secondly, I'd like to wish you all a happy Easter. ^^
I often like to wait a while before approaching reader requests, so that I can get my thoughts in order and do a little research. But when Daisy Fiend asked "I was wondering if you could PLEASE make a post about how to deal with people saying "It's just a phase" and arguments to help them understand that for some Goths it's NOT just a phase?", I couldn't quite resist formulating some sort of response straight away. I may also post more on this topic when I think of some more to say on the matter.
|Abby from NCIS (played by Pauley Perette)|
The perfect fictional example of 'not a phase' - adult, forensic scientist, and Goth party girl.
But the two comments which struck me the most were meant in vastly different ways. My ex-policeman, highly conservative uncle remarked, "Let me take a photo so that in five years time you can laugh at how stupid you look." My cousin Deb, who had briefly been a Goth in her younger years, mentioned her own 'Goth phase' and then joked, "Oops, mustn't say it's a 'phase'."
Five years later, my passion for Goth is showing no signs of fading. The increasingly bemused expressions on the faces of relatives who was sure this was another short-lived teen fad (I had a hippie phase, a punk phase, a wearing-only-rainbow-stripes phase...) are somewhat satisfactory.
The trouble is, the people who are telling you that your current lifestyle choices are nothing more than a 'stage you're going through', are not just being a pain in the ass. With the benefit of age and wisdom, they can tell that your fondness for black and heavy boots is OBVIOUSLY a form of teenage rebellion, and sooner or later you'll 'grow up' and get on with life. Without having a reasonable knowledge of subculture, and how it can manifest itself, for lack of a better term, in all areas of your life, at any age, Goth presents itself as a rebellious fad that can't possibly extend beyond the teenage years, because clearly (this is sarcasm) you can't get a job, start a family, etc, if you're still green-haired and black-clad.
Even those who previously were Goth will make such comments - in fact, these are probably the worst, because they are speaking from honest experience, usually with an amused air of 'been there, done that, grew out of it'.
The truth is that some people never grow out of Goth. But some people do. These people felt just as strongly about Goth then as you do now. In five, ten or twenty years time, you (and I) may also decide that the Goth subculture is no longer going to be a big part of your life. We can't predict how we will feel about it in future. Which doesn't make it any less annoying when people patronisingly insist that what you currently love is something you will 'grow out of'.
Again, many people have little understanding of what Goth is - its rich and vibrant club scene, festivals and events; online communities; a vast array of fashion and music subgenres - it's just a bunch of kids in fishnets and whiteface. Even people who were briefly 'Goth' may not have discovered the Goth scene proper - maybe if they had they would have stuck around a bit longer. This lack of understanding fuels the misconception that, sooner or later, we ALL grow out of it.
Unfortunately, no matter how hard you try to insist that it's really not a phase, these people are highly unlikely to believe you. They're more likely to smirk, pat you on the head and go, "Of course not. We'll see in a few months' time, won't we?" If you know the person well, e.g. a family member, there isn't any harm in attempting to explain to them that actually, there are hundreds of grown-up Goths who have jobs and families, and for some people it's a lifelong interest. But be warned; they think they know better than you, and are unlikely to accept it.
You can also show them creations such as Goth magazines (Gothic Beauty, Unscene and Spider's Web being my personal favourites) and books such as The Goth Bible and Gothic Charm School - written by adults, run by adults, created, written and devised by people who never 'grew out of it' and probably never will. Bands such as The Cruxshadows are not rebellious teens. Goth models like Adora BatBrat are not trying to shock their parents. But, again, be mindful of the fact that these people are convinced that they are right and you are wrong, and they may not pay attention because nobody likes being proven wrong.
When these remarks come from people you don't know well, there isn't really anything you can do. You could say something along the lines of, "Maybe it's a phase, but I'm happy like this right now," or simply, "Perhaps." A stranger's opinion shouldn't matter that much anyway - they're just ably demonstrating their lack of knowledge about alternative culture, which doesn't need to bother you.
Close relatives may be swayed by displays of non-rebellious behaviour - a teen who does all her chores, is polite, and works hard in school is clearly not rebelling. If their behaviour and remarks are bothering you, explain to them calmly and politely that whilst you MAY grow out of this 'phase' in time, at the moment it is important to you and you would appreciate them respecting that and not making comments.
Remember that they may feel threatened or concerned by your 'Gothness' and could be making these remarks to a) reassure themselves or b) put you off. If you suspect this may be the case, it's best to sit them down and have The Talk about what Goth is and why they don't need to be worried about you becoming a junkie cult member.
Unfortunately, the only definitive argument you have in this case is time. In ten years time, they might have stopped telling you it's a phase. In thirty years time, they will DEFINITELY have stopped saying so.
For me, as they say, the proof was in the pudding. Childish though this is, at the grand old age of nearly-fifteen, I kept a mental tally of every single 'just a phase' comment, and decided that I would spend a month dressed as a Goth for every single one of those comments. I did so. And then carried on, long after my mental tally was left far behind. I don't suggest that you force yourself into a mould to spite other people - but I can tell you with honesty that, at the time, my mild-mannered revenge made me feel a hell of a lot better about such remarks.
I hope this has at least been a little bit helpful, I may come back to this subject for future posts!