I was that girl who was nice to everyone in high school, even though I didn’t necessarily want to be. As one of a few women of color in my graduating class, I knew too well that distinct pang of otherness, the one that nudges you to smile, to remember that your room to move around is limited, and that there are others who probably also feel left out. So I embraced niceness, both out of empathy, and as a means of selfish survival. At the time, I didn’t feel I had the space to act out like the girls who got messy in field-trip hotel rooms, or the boys caught hotboxing their dad’s Toyotas before Physics. Acting in plays and arguing passionately with my hot English teacher about the last chapter of Ulysses (notwithstanding the fact that I knew not one actual thing about life) was my outlet for rebellion, and with that came entry into the bohemian freak geeks, which everyone knows is the illest subculture in high school world—or at least that’s what I thought.
Soon after my hallway identity was firmly established, a new crop of freshman began congregating on the stairs by my locker. I thought they chose my zone because they wanted a piece of my faux intellectual shine, but I realized it was my locker’s proximity to the back door, placed perfectly for sneaking out to the parking lot. Their stairwell discussions were always just out of earshot, delivered in hushed tones, and punctuated by the sound of swooping chains; there was something about The Cure, lots of tea about MySpace and LiveJournal drama, mentions of Hot Topic and black skinny jeans, a few truly supportive conversations about coming out and self-harm, and debates around the falsehoods of our parent's “happiness.” Thus begun my fascination with the goth-y emo kids: 2006-2007's suburban, MTV-branded answer to true goth culture, or at least the next best thing for my bum-fuck Midwest context. They were cool, quiet, queer, inclusive of anyone willing to look them in the eye, and kind. It was an important and fascinating reference for otherness to my developing aesthetic sensibilities.
Of course, my allegiance with the lifestyle has continued into adult life, where one quickly realizes that literally not one thing about human nature has changed since graduation and that the kids who rejected the everyday validations of the average classroom were probably far too good for the environments that produced them. This is where @gothsdoingthings comes into the picture, Instagram's premiere goth account. It's become my daily dose of "fuck it," and a supplier of the exact sentiments you want to like and pass around when you're feeling a little bit too cool for school. Its content serves as a reminder that I'm amongst others who share my awkward, not-perfectly-Instagram-aligned outlook on the world, and proof that the dark energy near my locker was indeed a rabbit hole to a magical place. In celebration of #WorldGothDay and the Mall goth in all of us, here are thirteen moody memes to get you through.