That was me almost thirty years ago in London, England and the photo on the right is me now. I went through many stages of alternative styles of fashion and music; phasing from Rockabilly, to Punk, New Wave, Hardcore, Goth and Glam. It was one stage after the other. But the thing that was the driving force was – I wanted to be different. I wanted to stand out of the crowd. And while I got positive attention as well as negative attention, that didn’t matter. I was different and I loved it.
I remember when I went to England with a friend back in 1985; we were getting ready to go into a famous punk bar. We heard that it was hard to get in unless you looked really punk. What is “really punk???” So we got out the white makeup and black lipstick and spiked our hair with Aqua Net Extra Super Hold (you know, the stuff they used in the 50s to keep their beehives up) and pulled out our skulls and bats and spikes and went for it. As we got there, the people in front of us were trying to get in, and they were ultimately rejected. The doorman said, “you won’t like it in there, this place is not for you.” My heart pounded as we walked up. “Come on in,” said the doorman without hesitation. It was like music to my ears. We got in! I was a bonafide punk rocker. What we experienced when we got it was nothing short of the real deal – people sporting two-foot Mohawks, crazy colored hair all shades of the rainbow and some of the most creative uses of leather and chains that I’ve ever seen.
On the flip side I can think of two instances where negative feedback moved me into a different direction in my phases of punk. The first one is when I was in my hardcore phase – ripped baggy jeans, flannel shirt and combat boots.
As I got on the bus (in Newark, New Jersey) an older black gentleman got in my way and looked at me to say excuse me, but he didn’t know if he should say “excuse me ma’am or excuse me sir”. So he said, “excuse me…uh, are you a man or a woman???” Ugh, I didn’t feel good about that at all. He was just being honest so I couldn’t be mad at him right?
So I stepped into a different direction. “No one is ever going to mistake me for a guy again.” So I revamped and restyled into a more gothic appearance…high heels, fish net stocking and corsets.
Now while in LA, rocking out in glam clubs, my friend and I walked into our hotel lobby just after 2am – yea, clubs close at 2am there – not like NY where you can find all night clubbing, a guy walked up to me and said “how much” “How much what”, I said. He asked again, “How much”, and then it dawned on me, omg, this guy thinks I’m a hooker. That didn’t make me feel good either. So when he saw that look on my face he apologized and walked away.
One may think, “What good could ever come of that”? Well, we can learn a thing or two from ALL of our experiences. Here’s what I learned from being a punk.
Individuality – We are all created with very unique qualities. Celebrating uniqueness makes us confident in ourselves, and when we fall short of other’s expectations, we can lift our chin up and be ok with it.
Community – Building community and sharing common values gives us a sense of belonging, which enhances our lives.
Shared Interest – Make life more engaging. If you are passionate about something, how much better is it to share that passion with others that have the same interest?
Social Integration – we are social creatures. It’s not a good idea to be loner. Even the Lone Ranger had Tonto. And people that have social ties experience better health in general.
Hope this inspires you to embrace your experiences and grow from them because this is what molds and shapes you into being a person of defined character – a better you. What experiences have molded and shaped you? Leave a comment below. Sign-up for our eNewsletter. Engage with us on social channels – Just click on the top right icon buttons on this page.
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