True Life: I think I’m Emo

Published 4 years ago -

Celia Rose Smith
Assistant Editor-In-Chief

This past weekend, I was just sitting on my couch, pondering life and enjoying an episode of “Daria” when it hit me: emo is short for emotional. I freaked out, thinking I came to another one of my huge revelations that was going to blow everyone’s mind. Instead, everyone looked at me like I was literally an idiot for not knowing that before. Which okay, fair.

This realization sparked quite the identity crisis. Am I emo? Have I been emo all along? Has my entire sense of self according to the stereotypes defined by the constructs of modern society been a lie?

To solve this existential crisis, research was necessary. I searched “emo starter kit” memes on Google and “emo” tags on tumblr. The answer was unclear. Finally, I turned to the most reliable source I know for dealing with contemporary definition dilemmas: Urban Dictionary.

The consensus of the origin of the word is as follows: The word “emo” began as a shortening of “emotional hardcore punk rock.” It was not until the formulation of Hot Topic that emo came to characterize a group of individuals. This definition has evolved over the years, now used in pop culture not only to describe a genre of music, but a style and way of life.

At its core, emo describes an emotional person. Contrary to popular belief, these individuals do not always self-harm—this is not what defines them as emo. Emo also refers to a style characterized by wardrobe features such as skate shoes, skinny jeans and a lot of black clothing items. Emo is a Goth subculture and is widely used to describe individuals who fit this description. In my opinion, the emo era probably hit its peak in the 2000s; the identity was undeniably a big mood when I was in middle school.

As I recalled the past 22 years of my life, all the pieces of my identity puzzle began to come together. My facial expression in practically every photo taken of me from birth through adolescence is an angry grimace. I specifically remember coding into my six-grade MySpace page a playlist solely consisting of Secondhand Serenade’s “It’s Not Over.”

Some other favorite bands of middle school me include Dashboard Confessional, A Day to Remember, The Spill Canvas and The All-American Rejects. Though my personal style did not describe that of an emo until college, my personality and temperament always did.   

Looking back, I always have had slight notes of emo within me. I suppose my ignorance about the characteristics of this social label did not allow me to fully come to terms with my identity until recently. Let us now dive into a thorough examination of the unique characteristics of the inward and outward aspects of my identity.

My emo-hood has certainly evolved over the years and reached more modern standards of style. In line with traditional emo ideals, I wear almost exclusively black clothing and add my own fresh flair. My shoe collection mainly consists of Doc Martins and black shoes featuring some form of chunky heel. I walk around with headphones in at all times and tend to have an extremely self-deprecating attitude. I have band stickers plastered all over my car and laptop. My backpack is adorned with buttons and pins, most of which make some band or art reference. Black is my favorite color and you’ll never catch me without black nail polish. Yes Morrissey, I also wear black on the outside because black is how I feel on the inside.

Romantically, I’m into sad emo boys that wear vans and square dark-rimmed glasses. Typically they may have a Modern Baseball or The Smiths obsession and serious emotional attachment issues to match their infatuation with pain and suffering. And if they smoke cigarettes, listen to vinyl, make me playlists and ask to read my poetry, forget it. Basically, I’m a sucker for guys that look like they’re going to ruin my life and lead me on an emotional rollercoaster for several months until they finally succeed in pushing me away, leaving my emo raging at an all-time high. I guess heartache is an unavoidable complication the emo lifestyle.

I’m aware that dedicating an entire column to figuring out my sense of identity based upon a socially constructed stereotype is not very 2018 of me. It is important to remember that intersectionality is a thing and it’s not cool to put people in a box, label it with a black Sharpie, lock it and throw away the key. But if identifying with a group of individuals helps someone understand and shape their sense of self, I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. 

I do think I identify with the emo culture, but I’m definitely not a hardcore emo. I’d say that I am a soft emo with alternative and Goth characteristics; an identity that I just now made a thing. Based on the Dashboard Confessional renaissance I’ve been going through, I’d say I’m at the peak of my emo years. I’m embracing my newly discovered identity, I’m going to bloom into an emo rockstar.

Currently Playing: The Story So Far—“Navy Blue”

Celia Rose Smith, a senior, studies English and studio art. She is the Assistant Editor-In-Chief of Le Provocateur. Visit her website at

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