You want to be you all the time no matter what “The Man” tells you. I get it. We all want that. But in the real world its not always practical. There are dicks who will get in your way.
Lets start with where most people discover alternative subcultures in general - high school. Many have uniform policies now (often incorporating piercings and hair styles too) so its a non-issue there. Its best not to mess with a uniform policy. Your education is more important than displaying a touch of individualism and getting booted out. Or reactions may even be subtle stuff like slightly lower grades. Teachers can be dicks like that with students they don’t like.
But for someone at school without a uniform policy it gets tricky. The temptation would be to go all out. But is that the best idea? Teenagers can be dicks too and will go a lot further in their dickitude. So by all means be you but also remember by being you it may attract unwanted attention from others who dislike anything different. Got a favorite item of clothing you would hate to have ruined? Don’t wear it to school. The same applies with accessories that can be easily stolen. Save it for your time or better yet invest in a killer music collection. You’ll get more goth points that way.
College/University there are still dicks but they are generally more accepting of diversity. This is where you can really be yourself and generally be safe about it. But there will still be dicks who yell at you from passing cars or take a swing at you because you look different. In fact dickish behaviour like that never seems to go away when you are dressed to the nines. Ahhh mundanes... you just love to destroy what you don’t understand.
Okay lets move beyond school. Now we’re out in the real world. Its time to get a job. Unless you are lucky to get a job within alternative subculture odds are you are going to have to pay heed to what the boss wants. This brings you back to the whole uniform issue as very few workplaces have a completely open clothing policy. For some its a safety issue (workboots, High Vis vests etc), for others its about professionalism. Like with school and education, you don’t want to jeopardise your pay cheque just to be you. You need to know where you stand and what will be tolerated.
Right now many workplaces don’t like exposed tattoos or facial piercings. Its worth considering this when getting a tattoo or piercing as it may effect your employment prospects. Yes I know - it shouldn’t and in an ideal world it wouldn’t. But we’re living in this world of dicks, not mythical Gothland.
Clothing, hair style/colour and accessories can also be an issue. Always be sure you know what is okay. They may have a certain image they want to project and need staff to conform to it. On the clock they rent you as one of them. In your own time you can be yourself. Survival takes precedence.
All hope isn’t lost however. There are ways you can be you in a workplace. There is good reason why “Corpgoth” is a thing. A boss can’t be a dick if you are sticking to the rules and simply changing bright colours for darker ones or being a little flamboyant (yet tasteful) with your style.
That said things are getting better. I remember when I was 18 most nightclubs (mainstream ones at that) wouldn’t let anyone in with exposed tattoos. Nowadays its pretty common. The same is happening in the workplace as more accept things like that. There are many employers who value quirky eccentric staff with a sense of flair.
Its worth talking about families too. Many alternative people have families that are anything but. They might be dicks openly or subtley. This can especially be a problem for teenagers as they will be seen as simply being in a phase they will grow out of. This can be the case but not always. Sometimes you have to compromise a little. If you live with your parents, until you are of legal age its their rules under their roof. But that doesn’t mean there can’t be compromises.
As you get older and stick with it they will eventually accept that its just your way. Unfortunately some people are very set in their ways and they will believe the rubbish in the media about goths being evil. Maybe tone it down a little when at family gatherings. I guess it depends on how much you value your family and care about what they think of you.
This world of dicks can be a treacherous place for alternative people. People fear what they don’t understand, they hate what they fear and attack what they hate. But as I said earlier it is getting better. Mythical Gothland may not be as far away as you think.
Aytakk has been active in the goth scene since the mid 90s both online and in real life. He firmly believes in the old line "if you don't get the joke, you are the joke". As well as this he produces music for a couple of music projects: Corpulence On The Catwalk (goth/darkwave/coldwave) and Hypnophile (aggrotech/power noise). He is also a club DJ and nemesis of DJ Jelly.