Monday, September 11, 2017

Goth at 30 and Beyond: Insight for baby bats

Goth or not, people tend to perceive turning 30 as the magical milestone into being a "real" adult. High paying job, mortgage, marriage and kids on the way. By now, they assume you should be putting away the dreams of your 20s and hanging up your dancing shoes. NO FUN FOR YOU! You are 30 now; time  to slap on the khakis and get that middle management position you never dreamt of :/

30 year old me, before the De/Vision concert in Austin, TX

These days, I'm closer to 40 than 30 and hopefully wiser for the wear. Here are my observations and suggestions for younger goths who wonder what the future holds in terms of aging and goth identity.

- I became more relaxed about mixing and matching different goth style genres, learning to DIY, etc. I'm definitely more comfortable in my skin at 37 than I was in my 20s, and have a better idea about what styles/shapes of clothing look better on me.
You also no longer live with the paranoia that someone will notice you've worn that same old reliable Lip Service dress to the club twice in the same month. Essentially, I quit caring what other people in the local scene might have thought about my style because most of them were younger and it appeared a lot of the older people slowly quit dressing up as much, or just dropping out of the scene like flies (we'll discuss this later). I think when many of us are younger, we get too stuck in specific labels, or really struggle with being ourselves while still performing the goth aesthetic. This definitely became easier as I got older.

-You might possibly find ways to help build the community, or assist in events. When I was younger, it really was all about dancing, drinking, and dressing up. I wasn't a DJ or a musician, so I never bothered to really think about how I could contribute. Over time, however, I experienced scenes in different cities (some much worse than others), and I learned to appreciate the community that comes with being goth much more. Perhaps you'll blog, make YouTube videos, decorate for special events at your local club, or just help promote shows. If you enjoy a healthy goth scene in your area, remember that it only exists because people take time and effort to make it happen (and usually for very little pay).

- Responsibilities and stress take their toll. At first, you quit going out on weeknights because you have that great job. Makes total sense. Then, you quit going out on weekends because you are just too exhausted or the bills have piled up and you could use that money for gas. Many people also experience more health issues which always equals more bills and stress. You also might find yourself in a position where you now have to buy two completely different wardrobes, depending on your work situation. Loved working at my previous employer, but they had a strict dress code and it wasn't long before I began to resent the fact that I was spending more money on office wear than "me clothes". There were times when I wanted to throw a fit like a 3 year old because I had to spend my last $60 on a nice blazer, instead of a cool vintage pair of boots I found on eBay. You learn to get over it. Wine helps :)

-Single after 30 and goth? Dating becomes a new form of hell, especially if you don't live in a major metropolitan area with a decent goth scene. And even then, it is still tricky. As we all know, just because someone is goth it doesn't automatically mean you will get along, let alone be attracted to one another.
Let's say there are 100 available people for you to date.
Subtract at least half who will definitely not date a goth.
Then, for every area in which you are considered "other" by society (BDSM, pagan, disabled, childfree, etc.), subtract another 10 people.
Finally, of the remaining people who show interest, you must subtract the ones who will treat you like a novelty toy for their amusement. This is definitely going to get it's own blog post at some point.
I really have no solid advice on this topic. I'm 37 and single. All you can really do is try to keep an open heart and believe that if you keep putting yourself out there, a good match will come along.
Baby bats, please whatever you do, do not change yourself for a relationship. In most cases, they don't last and you will eventually get tired and restful of having to give up the things you love for someone else.

- You will lose friends. Even fellow goths. As mentioned previously, around 27, the amount of my peers that still went to clubs or dressed up began to decline. As people marry, have kids or get promotions, their focus changes. And that's fine, I don't judge it (we all should follow our dreams) but don't say I didn't warn you.
As far as non-goth friends go, there is a higher risk these friendships will fizzle out as well. For the same reasons mentioned above, but also there is the pressure of "dressing your age" once you start to be around other people's kids, or just even go out in public. By this age, your friends have also found their tribe (church, country club, dance moms, whatever) and you will notice that many of them become molded by that social group in terms of how they dress, activities they enjoy, and you are likely to see a change in their political views.
I had two friendships in which the other person became increasing less open-minded and accepting as they got into their 30s. My former best friend made a few hurtful comments over the years that she swore were jokes, but I think she was embarrassed to be seen with me at times, especially once she got mom-friends. Eventually, the calls and lunch dates become less frequent. They might say they are busy, but you'll have to admit it hurts to see them post pictures on Facebook of a sunday brunch or girls' night out with their new besties, when you've been wanting to grab coffee for weeks now. Eventually, you give up calling or texting because it becomes very obvious that they no longer are putting effort into the friendship.
There may come a time when the two of you have an argument about politics or some important issue any you realize if you met her now, you wouldn't want to be friends.
Even your goth friends may change and tell you "it's time to grow up".
It's strange, it hurts bad, but it happens.
As you age in the scene, all you can do is keep an open mind. Be welcoming of the baby bats and the lone wolf at the club you might have ignored it the past. Cherish the opportunity to connect with people in your scene, be willing to say hello to a stranger.

-The dreaded normal phase. It appears to strike everyone at some point. And for most, it's either a result of, or causes, a major depressive period.  Perhaps it's a breakup, becoming a parent, or pressure from a potential partner or friends. Perhaps it's medical conditions that leave you will little energy or money. Whatever it is, it sucks the life out of you. From what I've read on other goth blogs and my own experience, this seems to last several years rather than just a few months..
 My normal phase hit at about 34. To be frank, it was 3 years of hell. It's a funny to think that when I dress normal, I feel more uncomfortable than when I'm being my strange, little self.
When they say "You know a goth is really depressed when they are dressed like a normal person", it's totally true.
Younger goths should be aware of this possibility, and if you find yourself changing, spend some time alone. Consider what is motivating you to make these changes, and if it's an outside pressure or perhaps you are dealing with depression or health issues that are causing you to be apathetic about your passions and appearance.
. It's perfectly acceptable to change if you feel that is what you are being called to do. You also absolutely have the right to say "HELL NAW!" and stand firm in your authenticity.
Either way, this can be a time of growth and introspection. If you come out of the normal phase still darkly inclined, there are some surprising benefits. For me it's been such a wonderful experiences re-discovering the scene, revisiting old favorite bands, etc. Also, I have a sense of self-confidence and inner peace that I didn't have in my 20s, which makes it so much easier to enjoy meeting people and even going out alone.



  1. I'm actually going through the changes of losing some friends. It's been a rough ride and I feel really awful about it. I've recently had a few deaths in my family (My bf's mother and father) and did not receive any sympathy from said friend. No message. Nothing. So now I'm branching out online and in the clubs to other goths. I find goths to be a lot more honest and can appreciate my sense of humor better (I'm highly inappropriate lol).

    I'm only 30 now, but I'm at the point where I've got no time for people's shit. The only drama I want is on the television... and even that I get bored with.

    Losing friends isn't always bad. It just weeds out the people who really don't support you, and makes room for people who do.


    1. Sorry to hear you are going that. You are totally right though, losing friends isn't always a bad thing. I guess it just surprised me that a few of my closest friends (who knew I was an all-round weirdo from day #1) became more judgmental about me over time.
      Looking forward to getting to know you better through our blogs :)

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this, Ivy! I've never really had any close Goth friends but they've usually been alternative in some sense (pagan, heathen, poly, swingers, etc.) and I've seen a lot of the same distance happening as life goes on. I remember my parents talking about the same thing when I was younger so I chalk it up to adult growing pains. I just wish it was easy to make friends as it was when I was 8. :)

    1. Sarrah, agreed! I do miss the days when you could make a new BFF by sharing your Oreos :D

  3. Such a thoughtful post, and real. I don't know what happens to people to act old...I was in my twenties when I heard "we aren't young anymore... Time to start dressing like an adult." Thirties came around and they're just normal Midwestern folk who shop at Walmart and go to church. Nope. But these days my stamina to drink and party all night is gone. I really wish there were events that didn't have alcohol and started earlier.

  4. Whoa, I hope I could look as fierce at 30!
    I'm 29 myself and I'm afraid I can't relate, mostly because I am nearly by definition a recluse. Always have been. I do have my husband and that grants me immunity from being completely unpalatable... though sometimes I do wonder...
    Thank you for sharing your experience, very thought invoking.

  5. Love DeVision!

  6. Gotta say this is the raw truth, I am 25 at the moment, almost 26 and I live in a small rural town and I get a lot of weird looks. After I graduated high school I went through a normal stage, I thought I needed to try to fit in to get a job and make new friends since I moved to a new area and it wasn't until about 2 years ago when I finally realized how uncomfortable I was in my own skin and decided to be myself. I dyed my hair purple and have slowly changing my wardrobe and getting tattoo's and piercings... I totally relate to when wearing normal clothes, I feel so uncomfortable and self conscious than when I wear my goth clothes. I have been afraid of what the future holds when I get older but this helped reassure me!! I have been a lot more out going and have fortunately been making more friends and my one best friend of 19 years (who is a normal.. lol) still loves me ad accepts me thankfully.. <3 <3 much love!!

  7. I'm a 43yo career mom and still go to clubs once a month. I HAVE to be with my people!

    What I've noticed though is so many of the patrons are actually around my age (I'm in Phoenix). It sometimes makes me a little sad because it feels like we are a dying breed. There are very few baby bats out here. But at the same time, it's nice to be around people who are old school like me and none of us give a fuck. I just hope the scene keeps thriving. I certainly have no plans to stop clubbing anytime soon.

    The main difference between now and then is I get tired around 1:30 and Ive traded in my vinyl bras for corsets that cover my belly. Lol!