We all have moments that we look back on and cringe. A time in our lives where we feel we were immature or unaware of how life truly was. Back when we were just entering our teenage years, when we had no idea what adult life would be like, and all we had to worry about was getting our small amount of homework done so we could hang out with friends. We were young and inexperienced, and we wore our hearts on our sleeves. Many of us remember having a MySpace page and selectively choosing the perfect song to put on our page. We had to tell anyone who visited it exactly how we were feeling. We posted song lyrics as our statuses and let the world know that we were not okay, even though we really were. It was the age of emo music, the age of hitting up the mall to scavenge Hot Topic for the latest band shirts. Our long hair, swooping down over one eye, our skinny jeans, or even for those who didn’t conform to the stereotypical appearance of the scene, we still felt the music. Which is where the funny thing lies. 

We had no idea what we were talking about. We didn’t really know what the lyrics meant. To us, it was just a representation of the drama that we created in our own lives. We took it as validation for the volatile emotions running through us. Again, we were inexperienced. As we have gotten older, we start to think that it was the music that immature. We were immature ourselves, but the music also fostered a sense of emotional immaturity and anger. But really, it was our lack of really knowing. Emo music has gained this reputation over the years as being this music that speaks to a younger, more dramatic generation. It isn’t regarded as something as having any substance to it; it just played off the young feeling of heartbreak and anger that came from not really knowing any better. Certainly, there were some bands and some songs that did appeal to a more immature mindset, that played off this young lack of knowledge, but there were those who truly wanted to say something more. It’s these bands, these songs, that keep some of us coming back. Especially after experiencing mental illness.

I’m Not Okay

We are made to feel like an expression of emotion is bad, that we have to keep it inside and only let it out at certain times. We can’t speak to what’s on our mind because “it’s just not the right time”. But now we know better. Now we know that expressing ourselves is a necessary component of life. Our expression is what keeps us afloat. Telling the world that we are not okay is okay, it’s healthy. That’s what emo music has always been about: the acceptance of not being okay. It has taught us to live our lives as an honest representation of who we are. We deserve to feel accepted for how we feel and emo music provided us the path to finding that. We shouldn’t shun it or think less of it for its expression. Yes, we, as kids, took it and warped it into a symbol for adolescence, but that’s not where it comes from. These artists set out to create something that mattered, that said something. They set out to speak to the deepest parts of us that we feel like we can’t let out. They gave us a safe space to feel and see others for who they were. Isn’t that what we want? What we need? We need to share in our sadness, in our anger, and our not being okay. We need to celebrate the fact that we are all feeling lost and broken at some points. We need to jump around with strangers and sing about being rejected. We need to accept our imperfections and love the process of fixing them. Otherwise, we are just continuing to keep them bottled up.

Emo music may be something that we associate with a very specific time in our lives. A time when we thought the slightest thing meant the end of the world. It may remind us of a time we try to forget about. But what a lot of us have failed to realize is that that is because of what we assign to it. Underneath that, is a genre of music that encourages us to feel. It tells us that we are okay in not being okay, that somehow in that is the absolute certainty that we will be okay. In a world that has taught us to keep it inside, why shouldn’t we spread that message? Even if the music doesn’t appeal to you, understand the message. Understand that we need to celebrate the parts of us that aren’t okay. 

If you, or anyone you know, is struggling with anxiety or mental illness, do not hesitate to contact the team here at True Recovery. Our facility is located in Newport Beach, California, with our supportive housing located close to our campus in Costa Mesa. Take advantage of the local beaches, nature preserves, and Orange County community while we fight for you. Contact us at (866) 399-6528 or [email protected]