Thursday, April 26, 2012

Remembering Columbine

I had a memory this week that might be important. I was in the car, driving home, when a Cruxshadows song came on my iPod. I don't remember the exact lyrics, but embedded in the track were pieces of news broadcasts from just after the shooting at Columbine High School. It got me thinking about the impact that event had on me - on my sense of self, my a sense of safety, and my sense of how I needed to relate to the world at large. It gave me some context for the love-hate relationship I have with my interest in all things gothic.
I remember, just after news of Columbine hit, the administrators at my school became much more concerned with doing random bag searches, which made plenty of sense to me, but they also became very interested in enforcing conformity to a rather conservative set of behavior norms including disallowing black eyeliner, asking Pagan and Wiccan students to remove their pentagram necklaces, and, of course, banning the wearing of trench coats. I remember feeling indignant that my friends and I were being judged - wrongly, I might add - because we happened to dress like and share some interests with the shooters at Columbine.
This created a lot of internal conflict for me. Be true to myself and risk the wrath of the authorities and my standing as a good student as I pushed back against the fear and stereotyping that was occurring, they possibly getting myself in trouble that could jeopardize the future I envisioned for myself, or conform outwardly and follow the rules until I could reach a point in my life where I didn't have to follow them any more?
I choose the second path, and though I am glad for what that decision has allowed me to achieve academically and in my career, I am also aware that I truncated my own self-exploration at a point in time where pushing the river might have been the better decision in term of psychological development.
It was hard though, to live inside a culture that summarily rejected me out of fear and misunderstanding. I think I lost something important there, and I don't know how to get it back.