home           about           blog           archives           domain           exits           ask

Required Reading: Dashboard Confessional and all the feelings

Hi, hello, yes I'm still alive.

A lot of things have been going on, all of which have to do with stuff I'd rather not write about for now. There are just some things I'm not strong enough to put down on paper yet, so I'm giving myself time. I guess I'm at that point where I'm literally at a loss for words -- as to why, I guess I'll tell you in another post.

Today, instead, I choose to share with you an article I've come across that is more or less representative of a time in life people my age, I assume, can most definitely relate with. I'm talking about that band which served as the mouthpiece for all the sad, angsty, emo feelings of our youth: none other than Dashboard Confessional.

I'm sure, no matter how hard you try to deny it, you have your DC moments. Lots of them. And while the now cooler, "wiser," FKA Twigs-listening, 23-year-old self will scoff at the thought of you crying in the shower to Chris Carraba, you can't run away from that past. At least not completely. Because every tear you've shed since then had been colored some way or another by a feeling that only a Dashboard song can truly, properly convey.

"There is a brief window of life where it seems earnest emotion can be cool, and it happened to coincide with when I discovered Dashboard: high school.

Dashboard Confessional, or When It Was Cool To Have Feelings by Julie Beck

Reading this article got me transported back to a time when my Y!M status updates were always quoting "Brilliant Dance" and "Swiss-Army Romance." It's true: at some point, you will realize how funny and even embarrassing it was that you were once so brave about putting your feelings out there. Sadness was worn like a badge. Misery was a one-way ticket to coolness. Being honest was okay; being hyper-sensitive was more than welcome.

And then we grew up and started worrying about careers and bills and failures. We had real, actual problems come our way. Suddenly, Chris Carraba became the encapsulation of the paltriness of teenage hormonal angst. How silly of him, how whiny to sing of such things, we say. Suddenly, feeling confused about love because your crush hung out with someone else seemed so inconsequential and petty. But the gift of retrospect, is that all it has to give? The feeling of shame about feelings once felt? Aren't we doing our teenage-selves a little disservice when we belittle the feelings we had to go through, the very same ones that brought us to who we are?

About a month ago, when I went out with my boyfriend's friends for karaoke, I was surprised that one of his friends chose a song that I once called my favorite: "The Curse of Curves" by Cute Is What We Aim For. It's another one of those emo-punk bands of that long gone era; the type of song that had words 15-year-old me thinking they were brilliant, but were actually nothing but a bunch of convoluted phrases masquerading as raw emotions. I had no idea what the song literally meant back in 3rd year high school, but so what, it seemed angry and I felt angry. When I started singing the song with Louie's friend again after about eight years, man, I couldn't help but laugh a little. What was I singing about?! What the hell did I know at fifteen? But realizing that I still knew every word and every riff by heart, I also felt a bit wistful. 2007 me was so full of naivete, but also full of earnestness. I was "confused" about life; but I felt no shame about singing about it then.

I guess the really sad thing about being an adult is having to close the door on emotions — or at least being transparent about them. We force ourselves to be more proper, to be more cautious. Not without good reason, yes. But it's also kind of fettering how we have to build walls around ourselves in order to be considered mature. It's as if, you're not an adult until you can keep your feelings locked up in some drawer with the key flushed down the toilet. Only small increments of such are allowed, none of the Chris Carraba-wailing variety.

"Dashboard Confessional’s music is a relic of an earlier, more earnest self, who would sometimes overshoot, whose emotions sometimes reached the level of unreasonable, unseemly, uncool. But so what? There’s a bravery in just saying how you feel, especially in a culture where norms are put in place to discourage it."

Maybe we shouldn't be too hard on ourselves. Let's give Dashboard Confessional — and all the other emo bands of that very emo era — some credit. Perhaps it was in feeling all the feelings that we eventually found the kind of people we were to become. We had to reach a turning point somehow: heartbreak, defeat, a failed test — something that could've been scored by a DC song. And then after all the tears have been cried (and all the sad song lyrics have been transcribed at the back of your trigonometry notebook), you learn to move on. After you whine and wail and cry, you put it all behind you. You manage. You carry on. And you're never the same person again.

And wow, do I owe those guys some thanks.

Lucky for me, I still have my iPod from high school. It's been with me since 2006, so yes, it still has all my Dashboard Confessional, Cute Is What We Aim For, Taking Back Sunday, and All-American Rejects tracks — along with a host of others. Guess it's about time to give all those songs (and feelings!) a spin again.

Sabi nga ni Pareng Chris, "Don't wait, to lay your armor down."