Dear Steff Metal
I am 15, and at high school. I don’t have many friends – people think I am weird. Sometimes I try to talk to people but I always end up saying the wrong things. I am not Christian like the majority of the popular kids, and I have lots of patches on my backpack and art folder so rumours start that I’m a satanist or a witch. Sometimes I laugh it off but it still makes me sad. I would like to make friends with cool people like you and not be so awkward, and I’d like to have a boyfriend, but no one will like me like that. What do I do?
Also, we have to wear a uniform, how to I “metal” it up without breaking the rules?
Wow, if there was ever an email I could relate to, it was this one. You sound like me in high school, except probably cooler, because you weren’t mostly blind on top of everything else. So take some solace in that I, and likely most of the rest of us, shared you pain at one time in our lives! And now look how cool we are!
(no, don’t answer that).
Here’s my advice:
Appreciate those friends you DO have: you said you hardly have any friends, so you must have a few. In high school we can get so caught up in the “popularity” buzz, we look for quantity, rather than quality. I had so few friends in high school that I got super incredible close to the ones I did have, and we’re still friends today, eight years on.
So before you start yearning after new friendships, take care of the ones you’ve already got. Think of fun things to do every weekend – don’t just sit around and mope. Go on crazy adventures. Keep a photo diary together of all your crazy happenings – you’ll be grateful for it in a few years time. Write a list of a hundred things you’ve never done before (go kayaking, explore a cave, have a tea party, see a Christian band live, take photobooth pictures, make sushi), and go do them together. Listen to each other. Give lots of hugs.
Don’t spend your weekends wishing you could go to the cool kids parties: because you probably wouldn’t like them anyway, and the music will be shit. I spent most of my highschool wishing I could go to these things, and in seventh form (Senior year for you yanks, when I was 17) I finally got to go to some, since I was in school productions with popular kids, and we all got invited to the cast parties. And do you know what? They weren’t this magical world of fun – they were boring as fuck. You stood around and drank and waited for some drunk rugby heads to do something funny. You waited for hours.
Give yourself some positive energy: Teenagerdom is all about angst and suffering and no one understands my life. Tres dramatique. It’s healthy to be morose and sullen at this time – that’s what your hormones want you to do, so you’ll be unattractive to boys and then your wont dump seven screaming bastard children onto your unsuspecting parents. But don’t only surround yourself with deep and meaningful (read: sad and angry) poetry and music and images – you need a light at the end of the tunnel.
Put posters of hot metal boys on your wall, stick up a picture of the university you want to attend, read books about remarkable people achieving amazing things, save all your money for an overseas holiday after your high school graduation. If you can’t be excited about the here and now, be excited about the future – heck, it got me through high school.
Start saving to go to a metal festival: If you can, go to one in Europe. It will change your life. Srsly.
Become friends with yourself: I had to learn the art of, as Gala Darling would put it, radical self love, from an early age, because I was the victim of bullying since age 6 and I sure didn’t have any other friends to lift me up. How do you practise self-love? Gala has a few (100) ideas as part of her radical self-love month. It might be too sparkles and glitter for us grymm ladies, but she is worth a read.
Embrace the Real World: I’m sorry you’ve been feeling sad, that really sucks. Everyone feels sad sometimes, especially when people spread hurtful rumors about them and make them feel they’re not worth being friends with. Your high school does not present an accurate represententation of the world – it’s a little socialological bubble – the rules work differently there than in the real world.
So live in the real world. Forget about high school. If high school didn’t exist, what would you do? Would you go to metal concerts every day. So start going to concerts now – go see local bands at all age gigs, get your parents to drive you into the nearest city. Would you learn the electric guitar? Then find a teacher and go learn it! Would you move to Norway where the tr00 metalheads live? Than look into doing a year-long cultural exchange in Norway. Seriously, you can do these things.
The more you involve yourself in real world activities, the more you realise how crazy high school is, and the less you feel attached to it as your sole source of social interaction.
Also, the more you take on outside-school activities and interests, the more people you meet who share those interests – people who attend different schools, people who are home-schooled … or older boys. Ooooooh. You may even find a beau who understands you br00tal tendencies. You’re more likely to find him at a local hardcore gig than in math class, surely?
Realise that what people say about you is a reflection on them, not you: I know this so doesn’t help, but it’s true. You know you’re not a witch or a satanist, and if you were, there wouldn’t be anything wrong with that, either. You’re not an evil person, and you shouldn’t want to be friends with anyone who wants to imply you are. You don’t need these people, and by the time high school is over, you’ll never have to see them again, so try to stop worrying so much about the ignorant things they say.
Here’s the thing: if you’re going to be a metalhead forever, you’re going to have to get used to not fitting in. Metal is not, and will never be, mainstream in America (if you were European, you might find things a little different). Likely, you will not fit in at your job, at university, at your gym, in your evening Norwegian class, your bowling club, or your old-folks home.
So you have to cultivate a way to deal with this – and you might as well start right now. I’ve broken your options down into four camps:
Secret Squirrel Metalhead: Some people embrace anomiyity. They don’t wear metal shirts or grow their hair long or rave. They embrace “normal” hobbies and “normal” conversation topics. You wouldn’t know they were a metalhead unless you looked at their iPod, or asked them what they got up to that weekend and they sheepishly admitted, “Oh, this band I like was playing. They’re called Slayer …”
Metalhead Meh: You wear the shirts, because you like ’em. You listen to the music and go to the shows, because you love ’em. You’re gung ho for team metal when you’re drinking with your mates, but in the “real world” you try to accept that if others If someone asks, you’ll talk metal, but otherwise, you’d rather be noticed for who you are rather than what you’re wearing.
Heatogram on My Sleeve: Oooh, I’ve been wanting to sneak a HIM reference in here somewhere. They’re the new Korn or Limp Bizkit, you know, the band that people say “Oh, I like metal, too. I’ve got HIM’s new album. Argh.” Anyway, slightly off topic. The Heartogram on My Sleeve metalheads wear their weirdness – and their heart – on the outside, usually in the form of a bold tattoo. They believe the flesh outside should reflect the beast within. They are the “weird one” at their company, but they’re nice and genuine and no one really cares. They talk enthusiastically about the things they love, and don’t notice the looks of confusion that cross the faces of the un-initiated. They don’t know how to be “normal” and always seem like they’re dressing in a costume when they wear normal things.
I saw Kerry King’s face, and I’m a Believer: Still others believe in heart and soul that metal is the one true path, and like an evangelical preacher with an axe to grind, they loudly and proudly attempt to convert everyone around them into metalheads. They’re the ones thrashing Beastial Holucaust through their headphones at air-splitting volume with the specific purpose that you might hear it and realise it’s actually fucking awesome. They’re the ones who stop by your desk to deliver you stacks of Nightwish CDs because “this is really melodic and accessible and if you like Lady Gaga you will totally be blown away by these guys.”
I fit somewhere between the second and third categories, but it took me a long time to get there. I spent half my time in high school trying to “fit in” and the other half blatently bashing and boycotting everything that was hip. I was also gangly, nerdy and downright weird. Then I got to university and suddenly everything that made me unpopular in high school made me completly cool. So weird.
As to your second question, I’m going to answer that in a seperate post. And it will be great fun, I promise \m/
I hoped I’ve helped a little. Please feel free to write back or post in the comments and let us know how you get on. If anyone else has any words of wisdom, or can give me a great list of witty comebacks for accusations of witchcraft, shout out in the comments!
And please, if anyone wants some advice from me, and my kickass readers, on any situation, serious or humorous or mad or mundane or otherwise, please just write me at steff AT steffmetal DOT com, and I’ll do my best to answer your question.