I’ve been stalking your blog for a few months and I’ve been worried about what high school will be like. I’m in 8th grade and I’ll be going to high school next year. I only know one person who likes the music I like and doesn’t think I’m completely Satanic, and I’ve known everyone at my school since kindergarten and she won’t be going to the same high school as I will be.
I’m hoping to start a band next year, but that would be nigh impossible if there is no one interested in it. I’m really shy and rambley and awkward and I have no idea how to approach anyone who looks remotely metal, or look like they wouldn’t shun me for liking metal. the school I’m going to is a new building and I’ve no idea how the teachers or rules are, all I know is that it’s principal is a southern baptist Christian and he probably wouldn’t appreciate me or anyone else promoting “that devil music.”
Super long ramble aside, do you have any advice for a metal head starting high school?
I wrote this article awhile ago, answering a slightly different question, but I think a lot of the advice will help: Ask a Metalhead: I’m Just a Teenage Metalhead, Baby. See also: Ask a Metalhead: They Think I’m a Satanist, and Ask a Metalhead: Making friends with Metalheads.
So, high school. Do you want the good news or the bad news first?
The bad news: High school is going to be hard. Very. very hard. It is probably going to be the hardest thing you ever do in your entire life, and that includes childbirth and finishing a doctoral thesis. It has been compared numerous times to the seventh circle of hell, which seems unfair to hell because even if you’re doomed to wander about in a desert of flaming sand for the rest of eternity, at least you have fellow sodomites for company and you don’t have to worry about a heating bill.
I doubt you’ll find a single reader on this site who will disagree. Most metalheads have a hard time in high school, because we’re visibly “different” and can’t feign interest in popular music, sports and TV shows. I could say, “don’t worry, just be yourself, and everything will be fine,” but I’d be lying. Be yourself, of course, but that won’t make your high school experience sunshine and roses.
The good news: Everyone is just as scared as you are.
Well, probably not everyone. Those popular kids who run the show don’t seem to be scared of everything. But take them out of the equation and you’ve got a freshman class of terrified students. Seriously. Everyone is coming from schools where their friends are moving away, and they don’t know how things work and who’s the top of the social order and where the cafeteria is. They are asking the exact same questions you are, and the answers are only going to come the day you walk in those school gates.
This sounds awful, but is actually a good thing. It means, if you can pick up a few people when they’re new and scared, then you stand a very good chance of making frineds for life, simply because everyone is at exactly the same place, and it means a lot to them having someone to share it with.
Here’s what you do:
- Don’t contemplate trying to get into the popular circles. I’m not saying it can’t happen, just that you’re better off not trying initially. Popular people like weird stuff, anyway. Hip hop and ball sports and Glee club and weird stuff like that.
- There will always be someone more lonely then you. Find them on the first day or during the first week if you can. They don’t have to be metalheads, just lonely-looking people. Walk up to them in class or in the cafeteria and ask if you can sit down. Chances are high that they will be relieved. Even sitting next to someone not talking is better than eating lunch alone.
- Your group of friends at high school probably won’t be just metalheads. In fact, you could be one of the only metalheads at your school, and this is OK. Your friends – and you seem really sweet, so you will have friends – will probably consist of all the other marginalized people at your school. They probably won’t all be metalheads, but there will be some goths, some people of different religions, drama geeks, chess geeks, warhammer geeks … so many people whose personalities, looks or passions mean they won’t be part of the popular group. Variety is the spice of life.
- Join clubs. Join a few elective clubs and sports to begin with – you can always drop the ones you don’t like later. Clubs are a great way to meet people with similar interests outside of class time, and this includees making friends with people in the grades above you which, if you can do it, is the best thing ever. If you’re keen to join a band, look at the different music clubs and opportunities. Yes, classical quartets and choir aren’t going to be keen on playing Slayer, but they are good places to meet fellow musicians. You will very pleasantly surprised at the cross-over of people who like classical music and metal.
- Look for band members outside your school. For example, through ads on local music stores and online forums. Meeting people outside school takes the pressure off, as you’re in your own environment and feel a lot more comfortable.
- Challenge yourself every day to say something to someone. Just take it one step at a time. Wave to the dude wearing the Alestorm t-shirt, ask the goth girl where she got her boots from. 9 out of 10 of these people might shoot you down, but it’s that 1 who doesn’t who becomes a friend for life.
- Try not to care what others say about you. It’s hard. I know it’s hard. But if they consider you to be different, they are going to let you know about it. And you have to have a method in place to deal with that. I used to think about people or characters I’d like to be like (IRL or fictional), such as the Nancy from The Craft, Rory from Gilmore Girls or the cool rock chick from Bring It On. I’d try and imagine what they would do in the situation and do that. It didn’t always work.
- Be yourself. Lame, cliche’ed advice, but that’s because it’s true. Don’t waste your time pretending to be someone you’re not to “fit in”. Because they will see right through you. Those popular kids are smart – they can smell an imposter.
- Remember that high school isn’t the rest of your life. Work hard, get good grades, do a bunch of extra-curricular activities, because the better you do at that stuff, the more opportunities you have at the other end to go off and do amazing things. And the majority of the mean, popular people are going to end up in boring jobs with boring lives – it’s a statistical fact. Before I deleted everyone from high school from my Facebook account, I had a good laugh at their mediocre lives. Because it’s also a statistical fact that metalheads have more fun. So don’t get caught in the trap of thinking that just because high school is hell, that the rest of your life will be too.
- Raise hell. You are young, awesome, and full of hormones. Enjoy yourself. Do all the things people say not to do. Form your own opinions. Make your own decisions. Play your music loud and be one of us – a proud pariah. Don’t be afraid to fuck up a few times. That’s how you learn about life.
Readers, do you have anything else to add?