"The Future Freaks Me Out" by Annie Nishida
Many of my peers have real jobs that have real dress codes and require real shoes and real, appropriate hairstyles. They have salaries and probably health benefits or something fancy like that. They get flown out on business trips and get fed things other than Domino’s two-for-5.99 pizza at work. They’ve known their futures were secure since before our last semester in college. I, on the other hand have the same minimum wage job I had when I was 17, in which I teach kids the difference between the subject and predicate in sentences, and defer math questions to one of the smarter, still-in-high-school teaching assistants. I turn up the TV volume and pretend I don’t hear my mom when she asks if I’m applying to jobs that don’t put my fine arts degree to waste (like those exist!). The only thing relatively secure about my future is that I will never actually finish reading “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay” no matter how hard I try.
Most people deal with worries like this in a way that makes sense, but I have some difficulties in that area. I don’t drink because a sip of it will literally make me vomit and pass out, all while making me feel like I’m having a heart attack. I don’t do drugs because it’s expensive, you can’t pay with card, and I have a massive amount of student loans. Going to Vegas to “day-club” is out of the question because it involves both of these things, plus it smells like smoke, and it hurts my asthmatic lungs to breathe.
For me, the best getaway from adult worries is in my car. It’s here where I can belt out lyrics to Dashboard Confessional’s “Hands Down” in dramatic, tear-filled fashion. I can spend a whole day seeing my Facebook timeline filled with “My job is paying me to travel to Rome in a private jet, and also my CEO totally half-waved at me yesterday, which means I’m getting a promotion. Go me!!” while I weep and apply to work at coffee shops that continue to reject me for not being qualified. However, as soon as I’m in the comfort of my old My Chemical Romance CDs, shouting “I’m Not Okay (I Promise),” I’m 13 again, and don’t have to worry about anything besides who’s headlining Warped Tour this summer.
Emo music is my vice—my escape. Half of my tiny income goes towards concert tickets I couldn’t afford ten years ago. I’ve skipped class so I could stand in line for 6 hours to see Fall Out Boy at the Roxy, and didn’t think twice about turning away a girl who wanted to buy my ticket for $400 (in my defense, it was their first show after returning from their hiatus. In everyone else’s defense, it was 2013). A couple of years ago, I got a concussion at a Taking Back Sunday show when a crowd-surfer kicked me in the head, and it was totally worth losing my short-term memory for a week and a half. I even once, unfortunately, thought it was a good idea to get my right shoulder permanently inked with NeverShoutNever lyrics. I’m an emo monster. An emonster.
Middle school was the height of the emo movement. Tight pants, aka skinny jeans, were just regular ones you bought and sewed tighter. Heavy, bottom-lid-only eyeliner was a thing that went great with black hoodies in 90-degree weather. HTML was a skill we all learned to make our MySpace profiles black and red/pink/green. Skrillex was still Sonny Moore, the makeup-wearing frontman of screamo/post-hardcore band, From First to Last. To call it a “simpler time” wouldn’t be accurate. It was sad and angry and filled with Brand New lyrics set as AIM away messages, damn it! There was, however, power in knowing we were all going through it together, and, even better, bands were singing about it.
Today, emo means something more to me than “emotional teenage train wreck music you can listen to while you think about your seventh grade crush.” It is familiar. It is comforting. It is a look into the past; an escape from the “gotta get ahead” mindset by which I constantly find myself surrounded. Emo kids aren’t into staying cool and composed during important associate meetings over caviar and scotch. They’re into pouring their souls out into journals and Xanga entries and songs about fascinations with death.
Society wants us to think we’ll get left behind and be doomed for life if we’re not thinking ten steps ahead and don’t subscribe to Forbes. This might just be my inner non-conformist talking, but if this is true and I’m bound to wind up in the gutters if I don’t schmooze with execs and potential business partners over drinks every night, so be it. I’ll gladly perish amongst my Jack’s Mannequin CDs and copies of Alternative Press for the sake of being able to step back and scream lyrics with beautiful nostalgic rage, because frankly, as Motion City Soundtrack so eloquently put it, “The Future Freaks Me Out.”