*warning – this is another one of my rambling posts and it has nothing to do with fetish, so skip this one if you are not interesting in reading about pointless stuff about me*
I am not one for motivation speeches and TED talks (I hate them, don’t ask me why, I just do), but if there is a ‘speech’ that ever got to me was Matthew Macconaughey’s Oscars’s win speech in where he said his hero was ‘himself in 10 years time’. That sentence stroke a cord inside me, because heroes are never to be met, but they should still be people you inspire to become – and what better than choosing the future version of yourself?
About 14 years ago, 16 little year old me arrived to her first flat in Camden. Mind you, this was her very first time living alone, and her very first time in Camden. I remember coming out of the station and seeing the punks outside The World’s End and thinking; ‘Where on Earth am I?‘. I was so confused by the smells, the sounds and the alternative people – my sense went into overdrive. I got shell shocked to the point that once I found my tiny flat, I locked myself for three days.
A few days later after unpacking my two suitcases, I knew I had to get a job or else I would be homeless once again. Walking down the high street, I stumbled into the Lock market and from there, all I can remember is stopping short in front of Cyberdog and having another shock, but this time, it felt different. For those who don’t know, Cyberdog is a cypergoth/punk store that made its name for its loud music, gogo dancers and LED tshirts. Back in those days, they were on the other side of the market, and it was a small one-level store with small caves. They had a sign advertising vacancies for gogo dancers and something inside my head went *YES!*.
Now, this is where I should explain the kind of person I was back then. I was not alternative. AT. ALL. I owned nothing black, I had no tattoos or piercings, I used to wear tight mini dresses with white wedges (!), wear long hair extensions, rock french manicures, go clubbing in Chelsea and listen to r’nb. I know, I know, hard to believe, but that was me. I dated men from a certain demographic, had no girlfriends and I was overall, someone who on paper, would hate goths and alt people.. But that was simply not the case.
Moving to Camden was something of a revelation to me. I always knew I liked the dark and twisted, but none of my friends were into it and the moment I mentioned I liked something sinister they would say things like; ‘Ahh here you go being weird again’. So I knew I had to stay within my limits, or I would lose the little social interactions I had at that time.
But here I was, almost an adult (but really still a 16 year old baby), living on my own, holding a flyer that could lead to something fun and new. So I walked in, bought some neon yellow leg warmers, clip in dreads and glitter and called them asking them for an interview. This is also the time I should say that my dancing history consisted of Latin dancing and rnb/hip hop. I never even heard of industrial as a genre of music, so imagine my shock when I saw the girl auditioning before me dancing to industrial (nothing in life prepares you for that). So, as always, I still went ahead and danced in a way that could only described as ‘Beyonce meets XR-X’ and the manager at that time looked at me and said something around the lines ‘ well that was.. interesting way to dance’ but after much begging he took me on.
You would think that becoming a dancer at Cyberdog was my way into the alt world, but it was only a short lived dream. I got a job in the city soon after, and my “friends” and new boyfriend didn’t like the cybergoth vibe. So that was the end of my amazing three months.
Even as the years passed by, Camden and its people held a fascination to me. The goth shops used to fascinate and intimidate me at the same time. I used to people watch all the time; I loved seeing girls in velvet and leather, with backcombed hair, crazy contact lenses and tattoos. They looked beautiful to me. And I wanted to be like one of them so damn bad. I just didn’t know how. It’s not like there is a manual about how to go from ‘basic bitch’ to ‘goth bitch’!!
I remember around the time I was having my mental breakdown (I was about 23/24 at the time), I was doing one of my solo strolls (I used to go for solo walks in Camden once a month) when I decided to pop into a goth shop (which is sadly no longer there) and asked if I could try the entire outfit that was displayed outside (I didn’t know it then, but it was a Lolita outfit). The guy in the shop gave me a look (cause I was wearing an orange dress and my favourite white wedges with pearls glued on the side) but still went ahead and handed me the outfit.. I remember trying it on and feeling just right, like this is how I was supposed to look. I always hated my clothes and my vibe but for those precious few minutes something in my brain just clicked. Anyways, I knew there was no point in buying the outfit so I simply took it off, and walked out of the store, sad and confused about my life in general.
A few months after that day, I discovered fetish, and as they say, the rest is history. It was a journey that led not only to discovering who I was as a person, but also how I wanted to be portrayed to the world and that also includes my exterior. It was a 180 degree change, and one that was very much needed.
Why am I saying all of this, you must be wondering? Well, because today as I was getting ready to pop to Aldi (because covid-19 has led me to be all dressed up just to get groceries) I looked at my reflection in the mirror and for the first time since my journey started really looked at myself. I have crazy red/white hair at the moment, tattoos, a tongue piercing, chunky silver jewellery, vintage sunglasses and I am wearing a velvet black dress, black knee high socks and platform trainers. I’ve become one of those girls I used to fantasise about all those years ago and I haven’t even realised it! I have almost a complete new set of friends (cause let’s be honest, those people were not friends), I finally have realised the importance of female friendships, and more importantly, I am comfortable with how I look and feel. This doesn’t mean that the old me is gone, oh no, she is still pretty much inside me (and she has been loving the Mariah Carey Stay Home videos) but she is a better version of herself, and she has turned into the person she always wanted to be.
So, have I met my hero then? Oh no, not at all. Because this is the thing, my hero is always 10 years ahead of me. I will never meet her, but I know she is the person I want to be. If 16 year old me knew I was going to be like this at almost 30, she would have never believed it. But it happened. And it can happen to anyone. Be whoever you want to be – don’t wait for others’ permission and don’t let anyone tell you what you can’t or cannot do.
Be you. Always.