Tuesday, April 2, 2013

5 Things I wish I'd Known as a Babybat

The babybat phase is pretty commonly discussed among Goths. Older Goths sometimes use the term affectionately, but a lot of the time young adults look back on it with a sense of embarrassment. It's hard to think about our younger selves and wonder why, oh why, did I do or like X. Whether it's tastes in music and clothing or attitudes that we now regret, we can be pretty hard on ourselves. While I'm certainly not out of the babybat stage by some Goths' standards, I find myself looking back on my younger years with a mix of resigned fondness and mute terror. So, to show my early teen-self some love, I decided to make a list of five things I wish I'd known as a Babybat. Enjoy!

1. Non-Goth music is nothing to be ashamed of liking. 

I feel like I mention this every other post, but I grew up with Goth music as a part of my mother's amazing CD collection. When I realized it was actually Goth music, and not just my mother's weird tastes, and I started wanting to explore the subculture, I cut out a lot of non-Goth music from my life. I don't need it as a part of life, obviously, because I'm going to be a real Goth now.


Today, my two favorite bands are The Sisters of Mercy and The Mountain Goats. One of them? Goth on top of Goth on top of Goth. The other? Folk rock. I love them for different reasons, and it doesn't make me any less Goth. And think about how formative angsty folk rock lyrics would have been to my tender pre-teen years?

Actually, I'd rather not. Moving on.

Going to Georgia by The Mountain Goats

2. You're cultivating a style, not just a garment.

Thrifting misadventures. They happen. They happen a lot.

It's really easy to get carried away by steals in terms of garment pricing, especially when Goths are used to outrageously priced garments as a matter of course, but those $3 impulse buys add up. If I could, I would gently remind my Babybat self that, yes, thrifting is Goth. As. Fuck., but it's only effective as a wardrobe building strategy if done correctly.

Part of my current wardrobe overhaul problem is that I bought too much stuff without imagining it into a cohesive wardrobe that I would wear daily. I'm getting much better at it now, and can resist the sweet siren call of black sleeveless turtlenecks.

3. DIY or Die

Now, I don't take this phrase to heart all the time, of course. I don't need to DIY everything, capitalism has ensured that. However, I wish I'd learned the skills to DIY things earlier in life, so I'd have them when I need them now.

What skills? Sewing, painting, knitting, and embroidery are the big ones. Partly because of the aforementioned (and often mentioned) wardrobe overhaul, but also because I want something to do with my life that's non-academic but also productive besides my blogs. So, babybat self, stop putting down projects when you're not immediately good at them and actually develop some skills besides writing. You'll thank me later.

(My picture-taking skills fit into this category nicely, and I think they're doing well.)

While I'm perfectly capable of picking up these abilities now (except painting, I think the ship has sailed on that particular skill), if I'd started to learn them earlier I would be much further along now.

4. You're lovely just how you are.

You might have noticed from my (now startlingly popular, according to my statistics) Fatphobia in Goth post, but I've developed an extremely body-positive attitude toward myself and other people. All bodies are good bodies. We live in the good body. If someone tells you otherwise, punch them in the goddamn throat.

I was not always this way. Without going into the gorey details of my low self esteem (which involved many angsty diary entries, let me tell you), I'll just say I would have been a happier person because of it. Especially because becoming a Goth at that point of self-consciousness that is late middle school and early high school doesn't do you many social favors.

5. Surrounding yourself with creative, inspirational people is the best thing you can do. Start a Blog.

There's no secret here: I love the blogosphere. It is a completely customizable experience, not just in your blog but in the blogs you read or follow. If someone is giving you bad vibes, unfollow them. It's as simple as that to make your experience better. Once you've cultivated a group of blogs you read regularly, and maybe are posting yourself, you experience the community.

The community is a good thing.

I could, and probably will, write more posts about how good the net.Goth phenomenon is for Goths. I feel that if I'd joined the blogosphere earlier, and made the connections I have now sooner, I could only be the happier for it. Being a Goth and being lonely are not synonymous, there's a community waiting with open arms if you know where to look.

So, this these are what I would tell my babybat self if I had the chance, and a time machine. We should work on getting me a time machine. Until I figure that out, don't forget to write to me with your post ideas. Or, until then, post a comment! What would you tell your babybat self if you could?


  1. Very nice post, I really enjoyed reading it - and yes, I would have told my babybat self the same... But not the DIY thingy. Everyting can be done by one self. ;) And I just LOVE to make clothes and accessoires myself.

    And I wish that I would have joined the "blogosphere" earlier, too. It would helped me a lot to become more creative and chatty with others.
    (I hope you understand what I'm trying to tell...my English isn't best...)

    But I'm not ashamed of my younger self. It's part of my live and without it I wouldn't be the person I am now.

    Greetz from Germany,

    1. Thank you Lepi! I'm glad you liked the post. I think you have a very healthy attitude toward your younger self, maybe I should adopt a similar one, but then I remember what an asshole I was! ;)

  2. I can totally agree with the 2nd point. I recently dug out some ancient clothes I was keeping for whatever reason from my babybat days and it's just... all cheap clearance TJmaxx stuff in black, and the era it was from meant it was some awful mix of boho hippy crap and business blouses. Not at all the style I really wanted to cultivate at the time (or ever), but I was 17 and it was cheap, black, and velvet.

    I think I mentioned this in a comment on tumblr before, but I'm a Mountain Goats fan too :D Although I think my 2 favorite bands of all time are even more on opposite ends of the spectrum: Sopor Aeternus an Darren Hayes (formerly of Savage Garden). I have this really cool and impressive collection of Sopor Aeternus limited edition albums and imports, but I also have a very similar collection of limited of Darren Hayes and Savage Garden limiteds and imports xD

    Point 5 is absolutely fantastic, and honestly, being a bigger part and "giving back" to a subculture I loved (although in this case it was Lolita) was one of the coolest things I could have done with my time and I've met so many amazing people because of it!

    1. I'm glad you agree! And that I'm not the only one with some out-of-the-blue favorite band that is unlike much of their other tastes. (And I'm certainly glad you started your blog as well, it's one of my absolute favorites!

  3. Great post, I love this!

    #1,3,5: Perfect. :-)

    #2: Absolutely! That was one of the big problems I had into my 20s, 30s and even 40s, finding my STYLE. Individual pieces that you like DO NOT necessarily create style when worn together. (In fact, sometimes the result can cause style to run for its life.)

    #4: I'm not sure this is possible for most middle schoolers and high schoolers to actually understand. It's a horrible time in your life where peer pressure and insane hormones take over, and even if you HAD told your babybat self this, I doubt she would have believed it. I know mine wouldn't have. :-(

    1. I agree with your points about #4, but I think if my future self came out of a time vortex and told me something, I'd probably be more than inclined to agree with them! ;)

      Thanks so much!

  4. I really enjoyed that Moutain Goat song you posted. I even shared it on my Facebook. xD

    1. Good! I hope you go look up more songs by them, because they're wonderful.

  5. I'd like to go back to my middle school self and gently tell her that fitted shirts and windpants are not meant to be worn together.

    Let's not discuss the bad poetry.

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. I tend to love such ubergoth classics as Alan Jackson, so... lol. I think what I'd honestly tell my past self is to not tone it down and worry too much what people think, because even though I was pretty flamboyant for where I lived, I was one of only two sartorially-adventurous, quasi-goth folks in my entire high school. I'd also tell her to be more participatory on the internet since there was so little support on the home front. I'd have learned so much more and so much faster.

    The 'phase' scared the crap out of my parents, so obviously they were not encouraging. Twelve years later, I haven't 'grown out of it.'

    Props to Past Me for not taking herself too seriously, though. Considering my initiation into the 'scene' was laughing my butt off at two goths, one of whom identified as 'redneckgoth' taking dares for cash tips from the 'normals' at Cornerstone Festival... the levity is probably to be expected.

  8. My name is Cory although many of my friends call me buggy. I am definitely still in the "baby bat" stage of my gothdom. I got started late in life (27 years old) when I bought my first full on goth outfit. I still have it although the all black with vibrant overshirt look is getting rather dull. I have been looking for interesting yet reserved goth looks that I like. Cyber goth is a little outside my comfort zone and my disdain for almost everything in brown or tan makes find a steampunk a little daunting. I am trying to find a fusion of punk goth and victorian goth/ vamp goth that works for me and at the same time doesn't make everyone I run into at truck stops cross the road to get away. What do I do oh guru's of gothic wisdom (thank you faomy thr squirrel) it is nice to know that I don't have to be ashamed of liking garth brooks, nightwish, cruxshadows, and greenday all at the same time.