practices do go hand-in-hand. Neither is an excuse for false modesty, self-effacing
behaviour or giving up. Quite the opposite, if one is truly being honest with the
person in the mirror and being true to that same individual, these negative
behaviours would never be a conceivable possibility. The cost to their self-respect
and conscience would be too much.
Allow me to explain. When most people hear the phrases "Be true to yourself" and "Be
honest with yourself" their initial reaction is one of fleeting panic, a wince and a
plethora of negative imagery as they interpret these things to involve some karmic
reckoning that demolishes the individual like an old building in order to be rebuilt
as something shiny, new and better. In all honesty, this idea makes me groan, and
that is not easy to do. At some point, human beings bought into the idea that all the
"good" they see in themselves is some delusion and they owe penance for it. Boooo.
Not true. Our collective belief is that if we believe the good about ourselves and
share that feeling, it is bragging. Going around telling anyone who will listen? Yes,
that does fall into the bragging needlessly category, because the knowledge of one's
best qualities is for that person alone, and by living those traits, others will
quickly learn about it on their own. We should share good news, and live our good
So what does it mean to be honest with yourself? Quite simply, it means looking at
the individual in the mirror and facing the fact that we all have done things we are
not particularly proud of, but they are a part of who we are now. Own them, learn
from the experience and if one knows they could have done better, then DO better. It
also means acknowledging and owning all the accomplishments, the aspirations, dreams
and shining qualities of the face in the mirror. It means learning to be completely
at ease with self-affirmation and one's own company. Eventually, it reaches the point
where the kind words, compliments and affirmations from others are music to the ears,
but are not necessary to owning the realization that there is a good person on both
sides of the looking glass. The kind words of others become inspiration rather than
sustenance. They spur us forward to continue with our good acts, with following our
dreams and our passions, but they are not so much the fuel as they are the occasional
mile or two of smooth sailing, the break in the storm before the next big wave. Keep
in mind, it is the storm and riding those huge waves that make the journey SO
exciting, and so much more rewarding at its conclusion.
Being true to oneself is quite simply living the Truth that has been realized through
the honest talks with the mirror. The beauty of being human is that each person is an
individual universe with his or her own library of experiences, lessons, likes and
dislikes. It is one thing to dress or behave a certain way to fit in with others, it
is another to do these things because it "feels right" and then find that there are
others with very similar tastes. Being true to oneself is not about acceptance, nor
is it about proving how different one is. Like being honest with oneself, it is about
that head-shaking, smiling, wincing face in the mirror. Being true to oneself is also
not about shoving one's "Truth" in everyone else's faces, demanding acceptance. The
act of being true is wholly self-induced, self-enacted and self-sustaining. For these
reasons, the idea of needing others' approval becomes ludicrous, as does the urge to
be disrespectful to others who do not walk the same road, or whose roads seem "bland"
or less than one's own. The world needs its middle-of-the-road individuals just as
much as it requires those from each end of the spectrum. It is called "perspective"
and serves as a point of reference.
So what does this have to do with etiquette or Victorian Gothic lifestyles? If you
have been reading any of the above, that connection becomes quite obvious. Victorian
Goths come in all shapes, sizes and degrees. Some bear themselves out into the world
in gorgeous brocades, frills and laces, turning heads with every step. Others bear
subtle signs: chokers rather than necklaces, ornate crosses, Victorianesque articles
of clothing along with more mainstream pieces, etc. Each is true to themselves, both
in their style and the level to which they choose to take it. One is not "less" a
Victorian Goth simply because they wear a watch rather than carrying a pocketwatch,
because they wear jeans and black boots with a frilly shirt rather than the full
skirt, bustle, corset and parasol, or because they choose to don their Victorianesque
wardrobe only for special occasions. The same is true for any subculture, and it is
very easy to tell those who are also true to themselves. As opposed to the sneers,
odd looks or indignant sniffs some might expect for more subtle dress, there may be a
subtle smile or a nod of recognition. In many cases, a conversation is begun with a
raised eyebrow and look of interest followed by "Where did you get that..(insert
It takes more than a bit to be true to oneself when it comes to such outward traits
as a very recognizable habit of dress, but it is well worth it. And it has been my
experience that it is a wonderful tool for recognizing those who are true to
themselves as well. Some of the best friends and acquaintances come from
acknowledging another's self-honesty and self-respect, living one's own, and letting
lesson, as you have learned your own.
Now that I have rambled on, primarily because the topic is one near and dear to me, I
am off to work on some lighter pieces, getting back to showcasing the beauty, grace
and brilliance that is our Decadently Dark and Delightful corner of the world.
Keep it Spooky; Keep it Real.