(why doesn’t ‘passage’ rhyme with ‘massage’?)
Our lives are filled with rites of passages, which are essentially events designed to subdivide the random naturality of the human lifespan into socially-defining and law-restraining sections: no-one cares if you’re fourteen and your liver is made of stone – if you touch so much as an alcopop, all Hell is about to break loose.
And while I see the practical benefit of some of these laws, such as children not being allowed to drive, I think it all gets a bit excessive; laws put in place based on age to protect us are understandable, but the different ways we are expected to behave within society based on our age is weird – I don’t care if I’m going to University next year, Spongebob is one of the greatest shows ever produced.
That being said, there is one rite of passage that is not inherently divisive or arbitrarily limiting of one’s actions in society: the great teenage pastime of wearing tight black t-shirts with slogans written on them.
For Materialism-mas this year, I got five of these shirts, containing references to Rise Against, Savlonic, Lordi, Josh Jepson and YuGiOh Abridged, choices that reflect my varied interests in online culture and not-quite pop music.
And it feels cool.
You’ll probably guess that my superficial appearance, and society’s objective judgement of it as ‘attractive’ or ‘unattractive’ is of absolutely no interest to me, but wearing stuff with words on makes me feel associated with that idea or group; yes, I supported them financially by paying them (my dad’s) money, but now I feel like a representative of them in the real world, as I derp around my local area with a shirt emblazoned with a disfigured minotaur’s head.
I also feel somehow older in my wearing of said t-shirts; not in an intellectual, meaningful sense, but in that I finally feel like a teenager. I’m hardly going to slope off into my room and start hating everything unconditionally (because it’s much more fun to find specific ways in which our world sucks and angrily blog about them), but I do feel that I’m supporting something unconventional, even if it is just by wearing a t-shirt.
Perhaps this is why I don’t care that my family light-heartedly laugh at my choice in shirts; even jovial opposition reinforces my support of these bands and Internet things. Often, people will be alienated by others for their opinions, especially in regard to the nature of the black shirts we wear as teenagers, but while some people lose themselves in the image and perceived values of the stuff they like (leading to the widespread misconception that every My Chemical Romance fan was a nihilistic self-harmer), I am fully aware of the imperfections of my t-shirts: Lordi are a little over the top, Rise Against’s most recent album was garbage, Josh Jepson’s videos have become stale, YuGiOh Abridged peaked around episode 40 and I don’t even own a Savlonic song on my iPod.
I’m fine with being a teenager with my vaguely anti-establishment t-shirts, but I’m not fine with that being my entire identity: I read books, I play Football Manager, I run and do other things. While my rite of passage into teengership is fun and kinda fulfilling, it’s frankly dangerous to consider this rite the basis for an entire existence – life is way too complicated and broad to base it on one idea or the ideas of one period of that life.
Incidentally, I was going to get an Icon For Hire t-shirt, but forgot about it. I also practice the other great teenage pastime of forgetting once-important things.