Smells Like Tween Spirit
March 24, 2015
Emma Davey ’18
Picture it. 2008. The year of Obama's first election, the year Coldplay's "Viva La Vida" was everywhere. Britney Spears was making a comeback. Twilight was HUGE. It was a simpler time, when having an iPhone was a big deal and the only thing really going on in the world of social networking was Facebook, maybe Twitter if you were particularly tech-savvy.
My first two years of middle school went ok. I was diagnosed with mild ADD. I looked like Anne Hathaway pre-makeover in The Princess Diaries. I was obsessed with The Hills and any reality show on Bravo. I like to write and I was still a good reader. I loved Abercrombie and Hollister and thought I was very stylish. I listened to Top 40 radio and rewatched Clueless a countless amount of times. I did drama and dance and fencing (the kind with swords, not the kind in people's yards). My social life all throughout middle school was basically eating Tostitos Hint of Lime chips while playing The Sims 2. I was pretty much like this until the summer of 2008 (except for The Sims 2. That stayed with me forever).
Over the course of that summer, I discovered indie/alternative music and essentially became a different person. I'm not sure how I even made the decision to begin to research "good music" but I remember discovering The Strokes and Arctic Monkeys (before they became huge in America, the inner hipster in me wants to add) and countless other bands, most importantly Nirvana. I cannot stress to you enough the importance of Nirvana on my life then. I heard the song "Smells Like Teen Spirit" one day in late August, and my life has never been the same since. I was a woman obsessed. I had every album, watched every documentary, and even had the book made up of Kurt Cobain's journal, which is actually a pretty interesting read, I must say. Nirvana was the first band that I felt like I could actually connect to on an emotional level, aside from simply enjoying the music. This is where my memories start to get a little hazy and I don't remember if I felt alienated and therefore listened to Nirvana or listened to Nirvana and felt alienated because of that. Regardless, there was a lot of alienation at this time in my life. I also stopped caring about style for the most part, which didn't make much of a difference because I went to a private school and wore a uniform, but it meant that on the weekends, I pretty much just wore hoodies with Converse and a terrible low ponytail.
I came back to school that year with a weird sense of entitlement. I felt different. I was that annoying kid that hated modern pop music and was not afraid to let you know it, a 12-year-old with the mentality of a grandpa. However, I really loved Twilight so I think that me circa 2008 needed to get off her high horse. I was not terribly popular, however I was never made fun of, save for the mean guys who took PE way too seriously. I had friends, but I felt out of the loop with them. Aside from my best friend Caroline (who is still my bestie today) I was no one's favorite person. People would forget to invite me to things. I developed a mindset of "me against the world" which is not a healthy mindset to have at all. My mom responded by buying me the entirety of Daria on DVD, which I loved. For those of you who haven't seen it, it's a late 90s/early 2000s cartoon that aired on MTV about a misanthropic teen navigating the terror that is high school, and it is The Best. I knew I would love it when I saw the intro and there was a moment where Daria was in PE playing volleyball and she doesn't get the ball and everyone is mad at her, and honestly I have never related to anything so hard in my life. Especially seeing as I was the unathletic kid who hated volleyball day in PE more than anything in the world (I still can't look at a volleyball without a flood of negative memories flooding back to me).
The mentality I developed in 7th grade, the me-against-the-world point of view I had, I carried throughout 8th grade, and by extension, high school, although to a lesser degree. By 8th grade, I discovered the joys of the hair straightener and starting wearing makeup, which helped to boost my self-esteem. Once I had graduated (graduation may sound like an exaggeration but I had gone to school there for 11 years so it was a pretty big deal), I found more people in high school that had a more similar worldview, although it still felt like an island of misfit toys in a sea of preppy Republicans.
What I so appreciate about Oberlin is that for the first time in years, I don't have that mentality anymore. Now when I meet someone new for the first time, I assume that we'd most likely get along and that they will have an interesting point of view, unlike high school where I felt like the only two options for a personality was either entitled lax-bro or peppy sorority queen*. Is this a bit judgmental of me? Maybe it is, but it's hard feeling like you're different from everyone. The nice thing about Oberlin, though, is that while it's not at all diverse when it comes to political ideology (and, unfortunately, race/ethnicity) there are SO MANY DIFFERENT TYPES OF PEOPLE. Nerdy kids! Hipsters! Theater kids! Jocks! Kids who dress in all black and stand outside of Mudd smoking every day! I like that everyone (for the most part) has the same basic values, but other than that, people are as different as it gets. So for the first time since 2008, I have retired too-cool-for-school Emma and instead exchanged her for still-me-just-improved Emma. She's having a good time here and won't even judge you about liking modern pop music (although not dubstep. She still doesn't, and never will, get the point of dubstep).
*cool little note at the end: I just want to clarify that overall, I had an OK time in high school and my high school did have some pretty cool, diverse people. Just not enough to counteract the overwhelming feeling of homogeneity. There's nothing wrong with playing lacrosse or being in a sorority; it just kind of gets boring when it seems like that's all people you interact with are concerned about.
Songs that I was hardcore rocking out to in 2008-2009:
Smells Like Teen Spirit - Nirvana
Hard to Explain - The Strokes
Misery Business - Paramore
Just a Girl - No Doubt
Get Over It - Ok Go
I Wanna Be Sedated - The Ramones
Fluorescent Adolescent - Arctic Monkeys
When Did Your Heart Go Missing - Rooney
Oxford Comma - Vampire Weekend
Sour Cherry - The Kills
Seven Nation Army - The White Stripes
Mr. Brightside - The Killers
Shake It - Metro Station
Electric Feel - MGMT
Sheena Is a Parasite - The Horrors
About a Girl - The Academy Is...
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