EVERYONE DESERVES TO BE WHO THEY WANT TO BE

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything for Pretty Normal Me, so I decided that it was about time that I had another go and tried to find something to write about. This, however, is easier said than done. I’ve had my eyes peeled for something that tickles my fancy enough to write about for a while now, and I’ve finally found it in a place I never expected to look.

Last week my best friend and I attended a festival that we’ve been waiting to go to for months. I’ll be honest with you, we were only going to the festival for one act, which is the band Panic! at the Disco, who were headlining. We’d never heard of any of the other bands playing and neither of us were particularly inclined to give them a listen before going so we were effectively entering the festival blind and unprepared. Very blind and unprepared.

For those of you who don’t know, Panic! at the Disco are what Wikipedia call a ‘pop rock band,’ their music is fun and loud and is probably just about hard core enough to be classified as a ‘racket’ by most parents, but they are far from head-banging ‘screamo’ music. So, taking into consideration what genre Panic! at the Disco are, my friend Cordelia and I dressed as a combination of ‘pop rock’ and ‘festival chic’. I wore my favourite black and blue blouse with skinny black jeans and New Balance trainers, the ‘pop rock’ bit, and Cordelia wore a yellow playsuit with sunflowers on it, the ‘festival chic’. We thought we would be fine, we thought we’d blend in... We were wrong.

We were in such high spirits as we travelled to Birmingham, even when we got lost on the way to the stadium, we were still absolutely ecstatic. However, as we got closer, things began to change. Walking down the tunnel which connected the station to the stadium, we began to notice a change in attire of the people that we were walking with. We finally got to the queue for wristbands, which went on for AGES, and we realised the magnitude of our misjudgement.

The girls in front of us had a rainbow of hair colours, blue, green, orange, you name it, which contrasted massively with their entirely black outfits. Laddered fishnets, jeans ripped to shreds, varying band t-shirts that revealed tattooed arms, necks, legs, stomachs and even faces. The guys behind us hand dyed Mohawks, piercings in places I had no idea could be pierced and shit tonne of eyeliner. The story was the same from the front of the queue, right to the back, and there we were, smack bang in the middle, with brown hair, a blouse and a playsuit, decorated with sunflowers. We were very quiet all of a sudden, we didn’t have to say anything to know that the both of us were embarrassed and slightly scared. These were the kind of people that you would avoid when walking down the street or steer clear of in a shop. They weren’t the kind of people that you would expect to share the best day of your life with.

Looking back now, I absolutely loath myself for having that fear. Because as we got closer, we noticed that these people weren’t just skulking around like their stupid stereotype portrays them to, they were laughing, singing, chatting, just like we were before we got there. The guys behind us were talking about the weather, the girls in front were talking about the traffic, and yet we were too scared to talk, isn’t that weird?

We got inside and saw even more, black lipstick, red lipstick, blue lipstick, skull jewellery, impossibly high heeled black boots, but despite the recurring theme, one thing that I did notice, was that no two people were dressed the same, they were all completely individual, even us, and no one was judging one another for their fashion choices and I thought there was something quite wonderful about that.

The bands that were playing were, I admit, a little too hard core for me - there was screaming, and yes, there was head banging. At first, we couldn’t really handle it, but looking at the crowd, the swarms of people screaming and head banging along I realised that they were having fun, and ultimately that’s all we were really there for, so yeah... We relaxed, we joined in, and it was really great. We spent the day in and out of the festival, chatting to people we never expected to be chatting to and eventually it was time to go and see Panic! at the Disco. We were right at the front alongside the people who we had purposefully tried to avoid not six hours earlier, singing with them, dancing with them, having the best day of our lives with them.

We even went to the after party, which we were still a tiny bit cautious of as we didn’t know what to expect, but we needn’t have been. For Cordelia and I, the only experience of partying that we’ve ever had has been our school parties and this crappy little club we go to sometimes in Leamington Spa, where they play the same old repetitive stuff, house music mostly which neither of us particularly like. But here, at the after party, from the moment we walked in, they were playing our kind of music. Fun and loud, energetic with lyrics that I lost my voice to. Cordelia even met a guy, he had swept black hair and a lip ring. His name was Phil. He was nice.

We stayed until the end, surrounded by people, nothing more and nothing less. In the end it didn’t matter what we were wearing because we were a part of this amazing group of people who were far more willing to be themselves and allow themselves to be happy than to conform to what the world sees as acceptable.

Think about it, we all have that one piece of clothing in our wardrobe that we think is absolutely awesome, but chances are we’ll never wear it because we think it’s too far out there, too different. I witnessed thousands of people wearing what they wanted because it’s who they are, not caring how different they appeared. And I have been inspired... I’m venturing into the back of my wardrobe and digging out my red and gold studded doc martins, I’m going to the bottom of my makeup bag and bringing out my blue lipstick because I think they make me look fucking great. And as long as I think it makes me look that good, then that’s all that really matters. The same applies to you, to your brother, your sister, the guy that you've just crossed the road to avoid... anyone.

Everyone deserves to be who they want to be, no matter what others think. So dig out that pair of orange cowboy boots, or whatever the hell it may be and wear it with confidence, because that’s what you deserve.