Of Scary Books and Becoming Who You Want To Be.

Hello Snarklings! The Lady of the Manners hopes that all of you had a delightful Halloween holiday, and that if you went for the post-Halloween clearance sales you were able to stock up on all sorts of goodies. (The Lady of the Manners stocked up on spooky paper napkins and vampire-themed cupcake wrappers.)

This installment of Gothic Charm School is going to focus on some questions from the younger readers, and no, it’s not just going to be the Lady of the Manners exclaiming “Awwww, precious little babybats!” (Though in the interests of honesty and full disclosure, that is the first automatic reaction the Lady of the Manners has when reading letters from the younger Goths. She simply can’t can’t help herself.)

The first letter is from a young Goth going by the name of Black, with some questions about creepy books:

Hello lady of the manners, i am calling myself Black because i am uncomfortable with using my real name on the internet. I have a problem, I like to read ghost stories but when i read them i become paranoid at night. I don’t at all believe in ghost but i still get frightened at night. i don’t get frightened in the morning though. please help me.

from,
Black

P.S I am ten and a big fan of your book. 0 0

Dearest Black, being frightened by the ghost stories is a completely appropriate reaction for anyone! Ghost stories are supposed to be eerie and frightening. Well, yes, there are all sorts of lighthearted and/or comedic ghost stories (Beetlejuice, Ghostbusters, and so on), but at the core, ghost stories are about something unnatural. Supernatural. In other words, unsettling.

So you read the ghost stories, and then at night, as you lay there in the dark, you are filled with a creeping sense of unease that something is wrong? That there are monstrous, not-very-pleasant things waiting for you to drift off so they can pounce? The Lady of the Manners can completely sympathize with your plight, being a long-time fan of the horror genre and someone who is easily creeped out. The first suggestion the Lady of the Manners has for you is blindingly obvious, but she feels she must state it: stop reading the ghost stories. Or at least, don’t read them right before you go to bed. Sometimes, no matter how much you like a certain type of story, you need to take a break from it for the sake of your mental health and sleep patterns. For example, the Lady of the Manners loves the fiction of Caitlin R. Kiernan, or The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, but the Lady of the Manners has learned the difficult and sleepless lesson that she simply cannot read those things after dark.

What if you don’t want to give up reading the things that scare you? Then you need to accept that once darkness falls, your hindbrain is going to do its utmost to freak you out, and come up with ways to reassure yourself. Please note that the Lady of the Manners did not say “convince yourself there’s nothing to be scared of”, because she has yet to meet anyone who has managed to pull off that trick repeatedly. If you’re feeling unnerved and unsettled, it’s not only difficult to shrug that off, but it takes an immense amount of concentration and energy.

So, what can you do? Listen to music you find soothing. Get a nightlight or one of those LED candles. (Yes, really, and do not worry that having a nightlight is “silly” or “kid stuff”.) Keep a small flashlight on your bedside table or under your pillow. Keep a few favorite non-scary books in your room to read for distraction. Have a favorite stuffed animal or fuzzy companion keep you company when you go to bed. (There are many reasons the Lady of the Manners’ fanged bunny Clovis sleeps above her head at night, but her being easily unnerved by scary stories is one of them.) If your religion or faith has some sort of protective iconography, find an image of that to put near your bed so you can stare at it and focus on taking deep, controlled breaths as a form of meditation or self-hypnosis.

(Tangent time! When the Lady of the Manners was a small spooky child, and would spend nighttimes convinced that the monsters in the closet were going to join forces with ghosts and come torment her, she went to the local library, checked out books on folk magic, and spent an afternoon drawing up protective sigils with paper and crayons, then sticking them on her closet door. You know what? It worked.)

Again, the Lady of the Manners feels that telling yourself you’re being silly or dumb, and trying to convince yourself not to be scared, are all going to be counter-productive. If you can’t manage to quell your paranoia and fears through rational thought and logic (and let’s face it, not many people can change their emotional reactions through rational thought and logic), then you run the risk of spending nights feeling like you’ve failed at something in addition to feeling scared. So take it easy on yourself, have some gentle light sources nearby, and talk to your favorite stuffed animal until you fall asleep. It’s what the Lady of the Manners does from time to time.

The next question is from Amber, a soon-to-be-thirteen babybat who wants some advice on being more open about her gothy interests:

Dear Lady of The Manners,
I’m 12, 13 in December, so I’m a baby-bat. 🙂 Since I’m about to be 13 I’ve been wanting to be more of myself. Myself would be Goth.
Now, my dilemma is that at school I hardly act this way. I don’t want people to start asking why i went Goth, when really I’ve been goth since….the day i was born! 😀 At our school we wear uniforms but I’ve thought of a few ways of expressing my Gothyness in my wardrobe. I hope you can give a little advice on that too.
Anyway back to the real problem, I don’t know how I’m supposed to deal with people asking me questions. I’m very…different i guess you can say. I’m not too shy, but i consider myself shy. So when people ask questions on how am i goth or why are you dressed like that, i feel as if they’re trying to bully me. I’m not quite sure what to say or how to take it. Please Help!
Yours truly,
Amber, (baby-bat)

Look! She calls herself a babybat! The Lady of the Manners doesn’t have to feel like she’s being inadvertently and unintentionally patronizing when she uses the term! (Because the Lady of the Manners always calls someone a “babybat” as a term of affection, but worries that she will cause hackles to be raised in some of the younger Gothic Charm School readers when it’s always meant with love!)

Anyway, onto Amber’s questions. How are you supposed to deal with people asking you questions about how are you Goth or why are you dressed like that? Well, the Lady of the Manners favors the direct approach, so she suggests look the questioner straight in the eyes, say “Because it’s who I want to be”, and leave it at that. You shouldn’t feel like you have to justify who you are or what you are interested in to anyone. The Lady of the Manners realizes that things don’t always work like that in the real world, but she still recommends starting out with that simple, direct answer.

You say that when people ask you those questions, you feel as if they’re trying to bully you. The Lady of the Manners understands that reaction. Let’s face it, being almost thirteen, shy, and wanting to express more of your gothy tendencies almost assures that there will be people trying to bully you, which is a sad, sad thing. Which again, is why the Lady of the Manners is so adamant about sticking with the direct approach. Don’t let people asking you questions make you feel intimidated, or like you aren’t allowed to express yourself. Own your weirdness. Who cares if the other students are confused by you expressing your gothiness? You shouldn’t, because you know who you are and who you want to be. Yes, it’s easy for the Lady of the Manners, with the horrors of adolescence safely in her past, to say that, but that doesn’t change the essential truth of it. If you show that you’re happy or secure with yourself, questions and possible bullying from other people become less … harrowing? Less important and soul-crushing, at least.

This is actually one of the biggest, most important things the Lady of the Manners wants to impart to everyone out there. Know who you are, know who you want to be, and be true to that. Don’t worry about “fitting in”, or what other people will think. Those other people may stare, point fingers, make comments, or ask pointed questions, and that DOESN’T MATTER. That’s what people do to anyone who is even slightly different from what “they” are used to, no matter if the different person is flamboyantly Goth, has an accent, is a gamer, a comic fan, a fervent sports fan … you get the picture. And since the default setting of people is to point out and question anyone who is different than what they expect, getting overwrought about it is fruitless. So make yourself the best possible version of who you want to be. Not only will you be happier in the long run, but you’ll almost certainly end up finding like-minded people to communicate with.

As to how to show your true Goth colors while in a school uniform? Sadly, there’s not a lot you can do, because a school uniform is generally there to help make the students a homogenized mass, not to celebrate differences in outlook or opinion. If your school dress code permits it, add badges and buttons that signify your interests to your shirts, or on the strap of your book bag. Wear stripey tights or socks to school. Paint your nails your favorite color. (If your school dress code forbids nail polish, paint your toenails and know that they’re your little gothy secret.) But mostly, just grimly accept that you’ll have to indulge in the majority of your Goth indulgences for when you’re not at school.

The Lady of the Manners is opening up the comments on this post, because she hopes that the Gothic Charm School readers will have suggestions or words of encouragement for Black and for Amber. Just like always, the comments are going to be MODERATED.

With that, the Lady of the Manners is going to finally get around to writing up another visit to the Nocturnal House and to the Doll House (she still hasn’t figured out a good way to combine the two). And hey look! A handy correspondence link for those of you who want to write to Gothic Charm School!

39 Responses to “Of Scary Books and Becoming Who You Want To Be.”

  1. Laura Says:

    I also agree with the direct approach, or even turn it back on them. When someone says “Why do you wear that?”, ask them in return “Why do you wear what you wear?” Most of the time they’ll answer with something like “Because I like it, it’s cute, it’s special to me, etc.” and you can just tell them that that’s the same reason you wear what you do, because you like it, it’s cute, it’s special to you, whatever. It sort of makes them think a little, which is always entertaining to watch.

  2. Ghoulia Says:

    If the stories you’re reading are causing you to be afraid at night instead try read more whimsical and light hearted stories involving monsters, ghosts, and ghouls. Here are some of my reading recommendations that are light hearted yet still will indulge Black’s Gothy worldview:

    – The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
    – Coraline by Neil Gaiman
    – The Cirque Du Freak Series by Darren Shan
    – Ghost Girl by Tonya Hurley
    – Scary School Series by Derek the Ghost
    – Bunnicula: A Rabbit-Tale of Mystery by James and Deborah Howe
    – The Goosebumps Series by RL Stine
    – Edgar & Ellen Series by Charles Ogden
    – Emily the Strange Book Series [Lost Days, Dark Times, & Piece of Mind] by Buzz Parker and Rob Reger

    To Amber, the Lady of the Manners said it all. Be true to yourself and don’t let others tell you who you are or aren’t. Since you have a uniform at school there isn’t much you can do about that. Maybe try decorating your backpack with pins, ribbons, and other things that show off your Gothy interests. If your school and parents will allow it you can try dyeing your hair a funky color or doing your makeup in a dark style (look on Youtube for loads of great tutorials on makeup). Or maybe even wear a pair of Gothy boots with your uniform!

  3. Linda Strout Says:

    For Black:

    The access hatch to the attic was in my bedroom and it ALWAYS freaked me out. I kept a decorative dagger next to my bed (it was in no way sharp) and still have a bedside lamp to this day. Sometimes I slept with it on, and I still occassionally do that.

    For Amber:

    Depending on the school rules, you might have to rely on wearing things hidden by your clothes, like toenail polish as already suggested or your favorite necklace tucked inside your blouse. You might also build up to being openly goth gradually, so other people get used to it and you didn’t ‘change overnight’.

    As a shy person myself, I know it can be tough to talk to people. Spend some time thinking about the questions people are likely to ask and what sort of answer you might like to give. This doesn’t always work, but it can help you not feel flustered.

  4. apocalypseArisen Says:

    When I was a young ‘un, I went to uniformed schools. I had ALWAYS gone to uniformed schools — Catholic, no less. The dress code was very strict, but they did allow for the girls to wear some jewelry, so long as it wasn’t an “abnormal” sort of piercing or too superfluous. Crosses and bats and skulls were often present for me, some more subtle more than others. I had (and still have) a favorite ankh necklace, which was almost always there. Hair things are often allowed as well, and there are a variety of spooky hair accessories available.
    At the schools I had gone to, shoes were to have heels of one inch or less, so I’d wear black flats or more ornate “kitten” heels, with opaque black tights. I would not advise stripey tights unless they are subtle. Perhaps dark gray and black would not be so striking. . . We would often be placed in detention if we had tights or knee socks which were too “loud” or “obnoxious.”
    As for hair, the rule was to have only “natural” colors. Bright red and wine red, for whatever reason, were considered unnatural, but huzzah! Black is considered a natural color. (Incidentally, it IS my natural color.)
    Where make-up is concerned. . . I got away with very heavily made-up eyes. If I wanted to do my lips, I would tone down the eyes. The nuns would sneer, but no detentions were issued. Concentrating on one feature kept the make-up from being considered too excessive.
    Perhaps Amber’s school is different, but I hope my experience in strict, uniformed schools helps!

  5. Bramble Says:

    I don’t know if Black has access to an MP3 player or similarly programmable audio device – I didn’t at their age, but such gadgets were almost unknown in the late 90s and my parents were always a little technophobic anyway – but I’ve found that putting together a playlist of music to go to sleep to can be very soothing in and of itself. And updating my lullaby playlist from time to time can make it more effective – putting new songs on it encourages me to actually listen to the music as I go to sleep, instead of just tuning it out in favor of whatever my brain’s throwing at me.

  6. Sar Says:

    So I’ve got a story on the subject of Becoming Who You Want To Be.

    I found out about the style known as Lolita when I was about sixteen. I found a copy of the Gothic Lolita Bible in a Japanese book store, and was absolutely enthralled and fascinated. The Lolitas were graceful, delicate, walked down the street with their heads held high, covered in lace and as beautiful as could be. It was what I wanted to be.

    However, I was a sophomore in high school at the time, which presents it’s own problems. I wanted to look good, to fit in, to be something, as do all high schoolers.

    My situation was one that you’ve prolly heard before: I didn’t really have any good friends, at least, not many that stuck around for long. I’d grown up in the same town, gone to the same school with the same group of kids who pretty much had treated me the same for the last ten years: an outsider.

    And so this got me thinking: I could either dress to try and fit in with people that may not accept me anywhere, or I could wear what I want and make myself happy. I chose the latter.

    This snowballed quite a bit. I learned how to sew to wear Lolita, sewing got me into the high schools costuming department, which got me backstage, where I found the greatest community of fabulously insane art-minded souls ever. Seriously.

    But I kept with it. I wore Lolita for all of junior year. Sure, I dealt with a fair bit of comments, stares, and the like, but, well, I was happy. And they couldn’t touch me. What I was wearing made me feel good.

    By my last year of high school, just about everyone knew me. And not in the bad way. I smiled back at when people smiled at me, and just about everybody did. I made my own name for myself just by doing what made me happy. People accepted what I chose to be and went along with it. Not saying everyone did, but generally, I was Sarah. I was the girl with the poofy skirts or the tie and stripey knee socks. I was the assistant costumer. I made all my own clothes. Well, scratch that last one. But that’s the rumor that got around. I’d discourage it if asked, but I saw no harm in it.

    I’m twenty, now. I’ve been going to community college the past two years to get my per-requisites, and am now applying to art schools to study costuming. It’s taken me a while to figure stuff out, but I know what makes me happy. I know what I want to do. And so I’m going to do it.

    The point of all this? Every time I’ve let go of trying to impress people, every time I’ve simply gone and done what I wanted to BECAUSE I felt better about myself for doing so, I’ve had wonderful, brilliant, fascinating, amazing people come into my life. Every time. The ones that will really matter to you later will stick around and want to be around you for being what makes you happy. You may have to wait a bit to get them, but as soon as you stop looking, stop trying to impress everyone, they will come.

    I may have traded my poofy skirts for ties and suits, but that doesn’t mean I label my Lolita days as a ‘phase’ or something I grew out of, rather it was a stepping stone to me becoming the person I am now. Any time spent doing what makes you happy is NEVER wasted, and anyone who belittles or bullies you for doing what you love is not worth keeping in your life. I’ve learned that so many times.

    So start your evolution. Start making yourself happy. Lady Jilli already has written a lot about what to do if you have to wear a uniform to school, and I’ll let her take care of that.

    Love, luck, and let fearless optimism guide your steps.

    Sar.

  7. Raven Says:

    Amber-

    Like the lady of the manners said, some people are always looking for ways to bully others, even if that person is only slightly different from the rest. However, if you act confident and calm with who you are, the bullies are more likely to back off.
    And definitely don’t try to fit in.

  8. Lady Elizabeth Says:

    Like the Lady of Manners said, be true to yourself but prepared for opposition.

    All my life, I’ve caused people unintentional distress just by being me, even before I was Goth and Nerdy. I like what I like, and I don’t like what I don’t like. But I’ve stuck to my guns as best I’m able, and am always happier when I’m allowed to just be me.

    Most importantly, don’t let anyone look down on your interests just because of your age. It’s a sad, old habit that us grown-ups have of looking at minors, and assuming that what they are going through is “just a phase”. (On behalf of all uppity grown-ups everywhere, including myself at times, I apologize for this.)

    Anyways, all that to say:

    Keep on keepin’ on! 🙂 (Within reason, of course.)

  9. Shay Says:

    Amber, I’ve found that a direct “Because I like it.” is often enough to satisfy well-meaning curiosity, and often stumps people who don’t mean well. Keep reminding yourself that you don’t have to justify yourself to anyone (this takes practice, even for many adults, so don’t feel bad if you forget sometimes).

    I started expressing my gothyness openly when I was a little older than you, and I have never regretted it. It did mark me out as “different” to people inclined to be bullies, but it was easier for me to face them as myself than it was when I was pretending to be someone that I wasn’t.

    Also remember that if the bullying gets too persistent, or if it gets physical in any way, that it is completely within your rights to take it to the authorities. It is not just kids being kids, it is a serious problem and you have a right to be protected and feel safe at school. If your school administration is not supportive, it may be worth looking up the law in your area. I don’t know where you are, but many places have anti-bullying laws on the books. Hopefully it won’t come to that, but if it does, it is important to know your rights.

    Good luck!

  10. LovleAnjel Says:

    Dear Black – taking the Lady’s suggestion of a furry companion in another direction: one of the reasons I like to have gerbils as pets is because they are awake at night. If I hear a noise, I can tell myself “It’s just the gerbils,” and go back to sleep. It really solved my fear of strange noises. Cats are also good for this, although they are more likely to sit on you in the middle of the night 😀

  11. Caitlyn Says:

    Dear Black,

    When I was little I use to be terrified of the dark, especially after I watched a scary movie or read a creepy book! To help calm my fears, I’d sleep with a nightlight or a stuffed animal, but most of time that didn’t really help much for me. So, I invented a new way to keep my mind distracted from all those spooky thoughts: I’d sing myself to sleep. It helped me out a lot! The song I always used was, “My Favourite Things” from the movie “The Sound of Music” (if you haven’t watched it, you should because it’s a really cute movie!) I don’t know why, but that song always made me feel better when I was afraid. So, I guess my advice to you would be, pick one of your favourite soothing songs and just sing yourself to sleep. Can’t pick out a good song? Then make up your own! I guarantee it’ll help keep your mind off those ghost stories 🙂

  12. Violet Says:

    For Black – As far as light sources goes, xmas is my favorite time of year as you can find a short string of led lights in nearly any color and remote controls to switch them off and on. I have a set of purple GE led lights twined around my headboard, they are bright enough I don’t trip on things but dark enough that they don’t “wake me up”

  13. Cemetery Dreamer Says:

    Black:

    I’m 22 and I still sleep with my teddy bear next to me. She’s my best friend and always makes me feel safe if I wake up scared or can’t sleep. I also have fairy-lights above my bed and a playlist of soothing songs on my MP3 player for when I’m suffering from Insommnia. We all get scared sometimes by stories; that’s how you know it was a good ghost story!

    Amber:

    I’ve given this advice to those scared of bullying before but it’s definately worth stating again:

    I got bullied all the way through school (Age 5 to 15) and it made me very shy and nervous and insecure. I moved schools 3 times, hoping it would be better, but it never was- I took the metaphorical ‘victim’ sign on my head, with me. It wasn’t until I found the confidence to be myself (with the help of friends from outside school- from a theatre group- drama kids really are the most accepting) that the bullying stopped. It stopped because it stopped getting to me. I remember very distinctly the exact moment. I was walking out of school down the drive, alone, and a group of girls behind me started shouting stupid comments. This was the sort of thing I’d been experiencing with dread for years, but I just realised how stupid they sounded, how little they knew about me and I laughed. That was it. All over.

    They had only been bullying me because it upset me; I gave them power over me. I wanted to fit in and be liked by everyone. I didn’t realise how impossible that was; no-one is universally liked, nor should they be.

    So I agree with Jillian; be yourself, be proud of your quirks and differences and never apologise for who you are.

    Good luck with getting your gothy touches past the school uniform rules. I know how hard that can be! My uniform was bottle green *shudders*!

  14. LJ Says:

    Amber: Having attended a school with a uniform myself (as I’m pretty sure my entire country does, in fact) I would advise going over the handbook/student charter/dress code carefully, so you know exactly what is written into the rules and what isn’t.
    Also, my favorite word: Accessorise! Some teachers will be more lenient than others, and some teachers may even be more lenient to some students than others, so I would suggest accessories that can be easily hidden or removed, such as badges, necklaces on long chains, etc. Most schools allow a pair of studs for girls, and some may even allow more than one pair of earrings, so it may be an idea to stock up on some funky studs, or even drops or hoops if you can get away with it. The wonderful thing about earrings is that you can mix and match them if you don’t want to wear a matching pair, and many shops will stock crosses, skulls, and around Halloween bats and spiders. I’ve found Claire’s are probably the best for this, but BlueBanana, Rowfers, Attitude Clothing (an internet store), and even Boots stock some killer jewelery, so I’d recomend if you have any of those stores nearby or your parents are willing to order things online taking a look at them.
    As for makeup, some schools might be lenient about it, some might be stricter. Generally, monochrome colours (black/grey/white) are the safest, though some schools may not be willing to let you get away with heavy black makeup. In that case, greys, browns etc. will work out pretty well, can still look very gothy, and are a bit more subtle.
    Also, I know plenty will loathe me for this, but many teen-mags give pretty good tips on getting around school uniforms. While these won’t be goth-specific, the tips they give (and indeed, any hair/makeup/clothing advice) can be easily used in reference to goth with only some minor alterations.

    Black: Stuffed animals help, a nightlight, etc. I often find listening to comedy music (i.e. Voltaire) or reading funny stories helps me settle down if a scary book has freaked me out, as it makes it harder for my brain to take things seriously.

  15. Colleen Says:

    As someone who went through exactly what Amber did, try to make it natural, for example if you can wear makeup (in my experience once you get to be about thirteen most teachers are not going to throw a fit about a little eyeliner) start with products that are lighter and a little more natural and increase the dramatic-ness overtime. You could dive straight into it but in my experience having to explain that yes you are “a real goth” even though you’re not depressed can get very old very fast especially in middle school. The gradual change also forces people not to think of it as a phase since to them it seems like you’ve grown into it. I’m all for being yourself right off the bat but this means less question and fewer concerned relatives 🙂 As for the uniform find some shoes that still fit your dress code but that still give off a gothy vibe and if you have to wear black tights in the winter (I did) try to get away with some gothy black on black patterns. Earrings are a really great way to accessorize even if you can only wear studs and don’t forget your book bag because that is the main way you’re going to be able to express yourself. Good Luck!!! 😀

  16. bre mcgauhey Says:

    To Amber,
    I know how you feel! I am 13 now and i started expressing myself more around when i was about to turn 13. I was always worried about what to tell people when they asked me why i dress the way i do and why on earth i started dressing like this. I still sometimes have a mini panic attack when people i haven’t seen in a few years gives me the look thats like, “what happened to the nice little jeans she used to wear? why is she wearing a black skirt with skulls on it? But i am so much more happy with the way i look now. and all my classmates (for the most part, i still get some laughs and comments every one and a while) have come to accept the way I am. so just go for it! Be who you are and the people who respect you for that will stand up for you and become your friends. trust me it is worth it.

  17. Jezebelle Says:

    Amber: I cannot offer very much in the way of fashion advice to you, as I had the (relatively) good fortune of attending a public high school with no uniform policy, so I was able to dress in all my Gothy splendor as much and as often as I wanted. So far all the suggestions other people have made sound wonderful, I’d say they’re worth a shot. If you’re not sure what will be allowed by your school, ask someone in charge to avoid detentions or other troublesome repercussions. Or you can just go for it and see what happens, sometimes that’s the only way to find out what you can get away with. I know that’s how I discovered that my job will accept my purple hair, I just went for it, and nobody has ever told me I have to dye it back to a normal color! 😀 You could also express your Gothiness with the type of books/comics/mangas you carry around with you. Find some novels with a dark feel to them, or comics and mangas with a more macabre art style and storyline, and carry them with you to read at school. Who knows? Perhaps someone will spot you reading something they also like and you’ll make a new friend! 🙂

    What I can definitely say is this: Listen to the dear Lady. However you choose to express your Gothy tastes, do not EVER let anyone make you feel inferior or silly for it. I delved into the Goth world around your age myself, and I can assure you that there may be a LOT of unpleasantness in the future for you to deal with. However, do not let that color your perception of everyone who asks you why you like the things you do, or why you wear certain things. Often times, these people aren’t bullying (unless of course they use a taunting tone/sneer at you while asking), they are just curious about this strange and spooky creature you have seemingly just now become. I know how it is to be somewhat shy and withdrawn, I was bullied horribly throughout school (from age 5 to 14) and it made me very insecure and shy myself, but if you live in constant fear or worry that someone is just trying to bully you by asking about you, it often draws the REAL bullies toward you because you make yourself a target. So, my dear babybat sister, BE PROUD OF WHO YOU ARE. The bullying stopped for me when I started being openly Goth at 14, because I stopped being afraid of showing who I am, I was FINALLY comfortable in my own skin and felt beautiful and confident that I was who I wanted to be, and I DID NOT care what anyone thought of me. When you are proud of yourself, when you walk through the halls or down the street in all your Gothy finery with your head held high and not giving a flying rat’s backside about what others think of it, that aura of confidence will spread out and repel the bullies. If someone asks why you dress that way, look them right in the eye and tell them “Because it’s who I am, I love it, and it makes me feel special/beautiful/happy.” Some may call you a freak, but you know what? I think being a “freak” is a WONDERFUL thing, because it means you are not afraid to be different from everyone else. My old theatre teacher used to always say “Awesome! Let your Freak Flag fly!” whenever one of us students walked in wearing some funky new fashion or I came in with a new Gothy accessory, and he was right. Be proud of who you are, and never EVER apologize for it! 🙂

  18. Kismet Says:

    Dear Amber:
    With what was mentioned about the necklace, don’t do what I did.
    I wear a silver pentagram necklace every day, it is not too flashy but still noticeable, especially on my otherwise plain black clothes. I don’t like the fancy styles that muck, so it is usually a black floorlength skirt or black pants, plain black turtleneck shirt, black leather jacket and the necklace over the shirt.
    The thing here is, even though my normal school is not catholic I go to a catholic school for extra lainguage class. Most students look at me awkwardly, and the principal of the school once called me and said he did not want to see the necklace again. Now I tuck it into the shirt, but rumor still spread that I worship the devil, am posessed, do human sacrifices, drink blood and whatnot.

  19. HouseCat Says:

    Dear Black,
    Like the Lady of the Manners, I’m a grown-up Goth and some spooky stories still scare me. I can’t read crime books after dark because I get too scared and start thinking every noise I hear is some crazy murderer! Being scared of scary stories is natural and it means the author has done a good job of writing something scary, too! The best thing is just to read them in daylight, when you feel safe, and do something fun and cheery between then and when you go to bed for the night, so pretty much what the Lady of the Manners said. Don’t feel like you’re being silly, or that you’re not Goth enough because things scare you; everyone, even the toughest looking Goths, is afraid of something. I can happily handle snakes, large spiders and birds of prey, go hiking in the mountains on my own, and do other things that a lot of people would find scary, but I get scared of harmless bugs like slugs (it’s the slime!) and by reading crime stories!
    ~HouseCat

  20. Black Says:

    Thank you for the vary fine advice, but i have tried most of those thing and as for reading funny book or listing to music to take my mind of the spooks i have a extremism memory so if something drags emoshens of plenty out of me i never forget it. But thank you agen, i apresheat it.

    from,
    black

    p.s. Pleas excuses the spelling my oto correct did not work.

  21. talenkarr Says:

    Dearest black,
    I adore fairy storys, Not the happy happy joy joy snooze fest that Disney does but the old ones, the scary ones, the kind that makes Rob Zombies movies look like kid moves. That being said I NEVER read them before bed. I am 37 years old grown woman, and when I do read them before bed… well lets just say I want my mommy and leave it at that. Try reading them in a coffe house or library. Some place brightly lit with lots of people. and NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER before bed.

  22. Rachel Says:

    Black:
    When I was younger, I loved scaring myself and often did. For not so scary but still awesome books that haven’t gotten a mention yet, I recommend Skullduggery Pleasant, The Chronicles of Vladimir Todd, and the Boys that Bite series. They are cute little gothy books with monsters. Skullduggery Pleasant is about a skeleton detective and his younger assistant Valkryie, who is about your age actually. The Chronicles of Vladimir Todd series documents young vampire Vlad’s journey through high school, starting at 8th grade. He has to deal with bullies, the girl he likes not noticing him, and trying not to accidentally kill his human best friend. Lastly, the Boys that Bite series is about identical twin girls Sunshine and Rayne. Rayne is a goth girl who is FINALLY going to be allowed to become a vampire after finishing her vampire training class and being paired to be bloodmates with a super awesome vampire, Magnus. The thing is, Magnus bites the wrong twin. So then he and Sunshine have to find a way to reverse the transformation.
    But whenever I couldn’t sleep, I’d curl up in bed with a unicorn, because unicorns ward off evil spirits. Also, I’d turn the fan on, so it’d trap the ghosts in their revelations. And if I was really scared, I’d grab the cross necklace my Nana brought back from Israel that she gave me.
    Amber:
    When I was in elementary school, I went to a Christian school with uniforms, but I wasn’t really ‘Goth’ yet. But we could pretty much wear anything with the uniform as long as it wasn’t offensive. Try hair accessories (bows, ribbon, lace, clips), necklaces (crosses, roses, cameo necklaces, bats), bracelets (Spikes, angel wings, skulls, lightning bolts), gloves (Stripes, monster hand gloves, black, lace, red, fishnet,), hats with little details like lace or with cute decals, patterned socks, tights (lace, black, grey, stripes, studded), earrings (feathers, bats, skulls, spikes) and shoes/boots. Add little touches here and there and build it up under the radar if possible. Not a good idea to go all out on day one.
    I hope this is of help ^.^

  23. Amber Says:

    Dear sweet Black, I’m twenty-three and I still have trouble sleeping after reading horror stories or watching horror movies.
    That’s perfectly fine though because that means the writers did their jobs: they scared you!
    On the nights I’m scared witless, I leave the lamp on in my room. I also snuggle a stuffed animal or pull the covers up over my head to sleep. it also helps if you have an iPod or some sort of music player and keep a variety of music on it. For me, I find it’s best to change the playlist a couple times a week so that I focus on the music and forget about what scared me.

    Amber, I feel your pain on the school uniforms. I didn’t have to wear them until high school but four years was more than enough.
    Accessories will become your best friend.
    If you like things of a spiked or studded nature, you may be able to get away with spiked and/or studded bracelets. You could also wear a spiked or studded choker. People may tease you on the choker at first, asking why you are wearing a “collar”. To this you could reply with “Because I can and I like it.” My choker had a loop which originally had a bat charm that I replaced with a silver bell. When people asked me why I was wearing a collar, I would jingle the bell and, in my most chipper voice, say “So you can hear me coming!”
    If you can’t wear spiked or studded things and you like Victorian things, wear a simple ribbon choker. Though I love spikes and things of an slightly more punk bent, I also adore frilly Victorian things and I own a ribboned choker that has a cameo in the center. Check your local craft shop: many craft shops have cameo charms.
    That’s something else: if you’re of a crafty nature and have the means (or if your parents are willing to indulge your creativity), go to your local craft shop and hit the charm aisle. It seems that Victorian things are in style right now, as are things of a more general Gothic persuasion. Take advantage of this while you can! Or, keep an eye on the shop and when the Victorian and Goth things stop trending, they’ll put those things on sale ridiculously cheap and you can buy them out for next to nothing!

  24. Eryn Says:

    Black, another good suggestion along the lines of darkly whimsical but not scary books is any young adult book by Eva Ibbotson. My personal favorites are Adopt-A-Ghost, The Haunting of Hiram C. Hopgood, The Secret of Platform 13, Not Just A Witch, and The Ogre of Oglefort. Some of them may be difficult to find, but they’re well worth it.

  25. Moralia Says:

    I know from experience that cats, dogs and other animal companions are an excellent defense against the ghost-ghoul-goblin-alien-zombie menace. Any time I had problems with nighttime fears, my faithful Siamese was there to guard me. If you have a pet, know that they are far more attuned to subtle dangers and will keep you safe.

  26. Lorelei Says:

    Amber,
    I LOVE LOVE LOVE to customise my school uniform!! On one of my shirts I sewed black lace around the sleeves and along the pocket. I often wear a plain black dress as a pinafore with a shirt underneath and a waistcoat on the top.
    For accessories try dangley earrings or the ones that go right around your ear.If you have a tie in your uniform it’s hard to find necklaces that look good with them, and that’s when chokers are perfect.
    Instead of trousers try to get away with black jeans but try to find a shirt that covers the button and belt loops then they just look like tight school trousers.
    dressy scarves are good and if your teacher tells you off for it just say that you wear it to keep warm and that you forgot to take it off when you came back inside from break.
    Shoes: doc martins,converse high tops and plain black leather knee high boots are great.
    you could wear your hair in crazy styles like the dark pixie look (videos on youtube ) or add chains to hair clips.
    In winter you can usually get away with gloves.
    Make up: we’re allowed to wear make up at our school, but I don’t want to go too crazy with it so I just put on a bit of liner and lip balm, or if I really want to wear dark or red lipstick I’ll skip the eye liner and stick a couple of gems on with eyelash glue instead!!
    You can even show your style on rainy days with a pair of iron fist wellies or a freaky cool umbrella with an unusual handel or nice frills.
    finally (my fave) since wearing a corset to school isn’t really appropriate you can wear a corset belt which looks like a mini corset on top of a shirt.ou could also wear other belts.
    hope this helped
    from Lorelei

  27. Julie Says:

    For Amber:

    Instead of expressing your gothy-ness in your clothing choices, you could buy a spooky book bag, pencil case etc! 🙂 I bought one when I started going “alternative” (I’m into Lolita fashion myself) about 5 years ago, and it is still dear to me as a reminder of when I first started out.

  28. Kyoki Says:

    Dear Black;

    Yeah, that happens to me too. Not even when I read, just sometimes randomly. I usually turn the lights on for a bit, get up, do a stroll. I sleep with the dog, because name me a ghoulie that can sneak past a dog and I’ll show you a lie.

    Sleep under your blanket. Everyone knows monsters can’t get through blankets.

    Got a sib? Share a room on bad nights?

    Read scary stories that have a happy ending. The ones that scare you but also give a way out, a solution to the problem, so that you know that if X should happen, Y can be done to save you.

    Oh, and I sleep with a circle of salt around my bed. >> Because I’m superstitious that way.

  29. Jude Says:

    Dear Black,
    Your exactly like me and probably everyone else on this site – no, correction – the internet!!
    Everyone gets scared of things like this.
    My phobia of ghosts, and paranormal things, led me to paranoia.
    I like reading these sorts of things as well, but as The Lady Of The Manners said- you shouldn’t read or watch these things if it scares you this much, because the reality is- you like being scared, just not when your trying to relax or settle down.
    I stopped reading these sorts of things, and moved onto humorous, comforting books such as…
    The Georgia Nicholson series.
    Books by Cathy Cassidy [The Chocolate Box girls]
    Diary of a Wimpy Kid series
    Dear Dumb Diary series
    These books made a big difference to my paranoia, and even though I still get scared and over-whelmed with ghosts and paranormal things, it helped me considerably.
    Maybe one of the reasons you act like this is because your supersticious? I was, and still am, though I do not have obsessive, compulsive behaviour.
    To be supersticious, is a perfectly normal things.
    You don’t have to count your steps when you walk, or wash your hands eight times etc.. to have it. It could be a mild form like myself.

    Lava lamps and changing-colour glow lamps didn’t help me (this could just be me, though.)
    I prefer having my full light on and my mum comes in and switches it off before she goes to bed.
    I also sleep with stuffed-animals and have well padded cushions, pillows and a duvet.

    I hope this helped!

    Jude
    x

  30. Jude Says:

    Dear Black,
    Your exactly like me and probably everyone else on this site – no, correction – the internet!!
    Everyone gets scared of things like this.
    My phobia of ghosts, and paranormal things, led me to paranoia.
    I like reading these sorts of things as well, but as The Lady Of The Manners said- you shouldn’t read or watch these things if it scares you this much, because the reality is- you like being scared, just not when your trying to relax or settle down.
    I stopped reading these sorts of things and moved onto humorous, comforting books such as…
    The Georgia Nicholson series.
    Books by Cathy Cassidy [The Chocolate Box girls]
    Diary of a Wimpy Kid series
    Dear Dumb Diary series
    These books made a big difference to my paranoia, and even though I still get scared and over-whelmed with ghosts and paranormal things, it helped me considerably.
    Maybe one of the reasons you act like this is because your supersticious? I was, and still am, though I do not have obsessive, compulsive behaviour.
    To be supersticious, is a perfectly normal things.
    You don’t have to count your steps when you walk, or wash your hands eight times etc.. to have it. It could be a mild form like myself.

    Lava lamps and changing-colour glow lamps didn’t help me (this could just be me, though.)
    I prefer having my full light on and my mum comes in and switches it off before she goes to bed.
    I also sleep with stuffed-animals and have well padded cushions, pillows and a duvet.

    I hope this helped!

    Jude
    x

  31. Maiden Rose Spice Says:

    Amber,
    I go to private school. All of these people have made excellent tips and points. But aside from what you cam wear, remember to always be repsectful to the staff. If a teacher says “I don’t think thats dress code” just smile, and politly take it off, and make it a point that you are putting it away to your bookbag or purse. If they say to take it off, just do it. It makes the rest of your school years MUCH easier.
    Xoxo,
    Maiden R.S.

  32. Cirith Says:

    Dear Black,

    Horror stories really are a problem aren’t they. Deliciously spooky but then when it gets dark the imaginary ghouls come out to play.

    I had a rather unusual way of dealing with this. First of I would sleep with my cuddly animals, no-one is getting past my cuddly vampire bat Echo (don’t tell her she hasn’t got fangs she thinks she’s fierce!), and then I would imagine something equally scary that would scare the ghouls.

    Being a Geek and a nerd as well as a goth I quite often imagined a Dalek standing sentry in my room ready to exterminate any ghouls or The Doctor sitting fidgeting on the windowsill with his leather jacket, sonic screwdriver and big ears. Because every kid knows that the monsters have nightmares about the Doctor.

    I always felt safer with an imaginary Dalek or Doctor there to deal with the imaginary ghoulies, ghosties and things that go bump in the night.

    If I get scared now I pray and promise myself that Echo will eat them if they can get past the duvet and go to sleep. Having two massive toy white tigers next to the bed helps too. They always looks hungry.

    Dear Amber,

    I think everyone else has covered it. Just remember that bullies bully to make themselves look big and important. If you ignore them that defeats the object and makes them look extremely stupid.

    I went to a convent school (the nuns lived on site and taught R.E but that was it)and I couldn’t modify my school uniform without getting into trouble but I could wear a nice silver snake ring without too much hassle (as long as I took it off in science so it didn’t catch on anything and hid it from the nuns because they equated snakes with evil.) It was only a very small thing but it helped.

    If someone does tell you to ditch the accessories then I learned the hard way that you are not going to win so you’ll have to content yourself with being ooky spooky outside of school. I hope your school dress code isn’t as strict as mine was.

    Good luck babybat. Be true to yourself. 🙂

  33. Spider Says:

    Dear Black,
    When I was a young baby-bat, I had a hilarious incident in which I had a repetitive nightmare based on a certain song by the Cure. I ended up scrawling protective symbols all over my room and dragging all of my favourite teddies into my bed. I also made sure that I did something that would tire me out before I went to bed so that I would go straight into a deep, dreamless sleep. Also, try reading the most non-scary books available after reading your ghost stories, if you do carry on reading them. This usually works.
    As for Amber, I would suggest wearing your hair in ‘goth’ styles, and accessorising with ribbons, etc., depending on what type of goth you are. The reason I only mention hair is because it’s the thing that schools are usually most lenient about. I usually did my hair like Robert Smith, or did some intricate braids and tied them with black and purple ribbons and lace.
    P.S. As you can tell I love the Cure! 🙂

  34. Sekhmetti Says:

    To Black,

    Something I find that helps when I get spooked, is to imagine myself surrounded by white light. White is protective and keeps the ghosts, spirits and other bad things away.

    And like Cirith with the Daleks I imagine having a dragon or a lion standing guard over my bed or in some cases a really big one standing guard over the entire house, or several at all four corners/compass points, they won’t let anything bad or harmful get through.

    And if you truly don’t believe in ghosts, you could try chanting to yourself “it’s not real, it’s not there, it can’t hurt me”? Won’t work for me because I believe in ghosts, but since you don’t it might.

    If all of the suggestions already made don’t help, you may have to skip the scary stories with ghosts and read scary stories about monsters or something, if it’s only the ghosts that scare you? Or only read the ghost stories once a month or less?

  35. Gene Wirchenko Says:

    Amber, I hope that you are being and doing better with your Gothness. I am somewhat Goth; I do not dress that way, but I love light horror.

    My attire is a bit unusual. I love pink and almost always wear a pink top. I am a 52-year-old male. Guys rarely wear pink. But it is what I am. My favourite is dark brown pants with a dark pink top.

    It seems to be cultural thing. I live near a university that has a lot of international students. If a guy is wearing a pink top, he is probably an international student. Or me.

    I have been asked why I wear pink, and I say that I do, because I like it. I do not cop an attitude. I simply am someone who wears pink.

    I have had numerous women tell me that they like seeing a guy in pink. That is fine for them, and that is not why I wear pink, but if they like it, fine by me.

    I have been hassled only once about wearing pink. It was a bright afternoon near my apartment. Three guys who were drunk started hassling me about my pink. I just ignored them. This was in a residential neighbourhood. This is the only time I have sever seen public drunkeness in the area. The drunks dramatically did not fit it. I was not concerned about their fashion sense.

    I have, on occasion, asked someone about something unusual that the person is wearing. I, for one, am curious. Some people ask questions to introvert, some out of curiosity. If you are comfortable with what you are, the jerks generally do not press. If they do, they would just find something else to hassle you over.

  36. Kristen Says:

    Black, I’d have to say that what you feel is completely natural. What I did is around Halloween some stores sell black light bulbs, which aren’t very bright. However I put that light bulb on my nightstand lamp and so I can turn it on and it casts a purple glow which lets me see and keep the look out for any movement when I manage to freak myself out from a scary book.

    When I was a child and heard sounds I’d always freeze, like if I didn’t move whatever it was wouldn’t realize I was alive, it’d think I was a doll or something. Unfortunately the trick really is to find what works for you and that means trial and error.

    One of the biggest things was when I was younger I would have nightmares and my parents got me a dream catcher, they explained to me how it works (the good dreams slip through the circle in the middle and get away while the bad dreams get tangled up in the string surrounding the circle and when morning comes they burn up-which is why most people put their dream catcher in the window) after that I didn’t have many bad dreams.

    Now onto Amber, unfortunately schools put uniforms up to make the students one entity or to help stop bullying (though it does not work since people unfortunately find something else to make fun of. The trick isn’t insisting that what is “causing” the harassment away it is taking care of the offenders.) However stripey socks or tights, nail polish, pins and buttons all do well. I would also suggest hair accessories, here is a nice D.I.Y. project to get you started.

    You will need:
    A thick head band
    Cloth of any color
    Pins

    What you do is wrap the cloth around the headband, tie it off to the side.
    (I like to leave a lot of fabric which I can braid into my hair with only a section of my hair.) Pin the pins to the cloth. I suggest only one pin for each side but you can use as much as you want. You can exchange the pins as much as you want.

    For a more elegant thing you can get a thin head band and take a bit of ribbon and tie a bow onto it. Perhaps a Halloween like ribbon?

    Also your jewelry is the last bit. Bracelets, necklaces, earrings, rings, or even anklets will let you show your style.

  37. Karin Blomven Says:

    I am still freaking out when hearing some weird sounds outside and you are absolutely normal by being precautious.

  38. Kim Aleister Says:

    Dear Amber,
    Have you seen the St.Trinians movies? Though not strictly speaking goth, they provide a great example of how to be unique and be yourself while wearing a school uniform. For example, the “emo” character Andrea has black and pink dyed hair and elaborate makeup and wears layered stripe and fishnet tights, numerous studies belts, and a band t-shirt under her unbuttoned school uniform shirt. Though some schools would not find such a look acceptable, you could always look to it for inspiration and then tone it down and dress up more on weekends.

  39. Ingrid Says:

    Aw, Amber, dont worry: Non-uniform days are going to be your dearest friends ^^ I have to wear a school uniform too.

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