Find your way to increased confidence by expressing yourself authentically, regardless of societal expectations.
A student of mine asked me once how I knew I was Gothic.
I was a bit struck by the question because I have always been a very colourful person with a passion for dark stories, ghosties, secrets, and the intertwinings of the mind. The only obvious giveaways have always been my choice of jewellery and music. However, I never took my Gothicness, outside the mental space, although aesthetically I have a predilection for Victorian Gothic clothing, as you can see in the following picture.
Having to describe my Gothicness to him felt almost like undressing my soul and my deeper secrets in front of a stranger.
The only thing I could say was: "Because I know."
The lack of elaboration meant that I still had to put words into all those internal sensations and images. And at that point, I realised that I had a lot of work to do.
He was obviously expecting a different type of answer. A list of characteristics, perhaps. Maybe a kind of religiousness in my daily routines. Maybe he thought I slept in a coffin and hid from the sunlight, although I am not too good in the Spanish summer heat, my daily habits are nothing out of the ordinary.
What I couldn't explain to him at that time was that, like for some of us, the allure of the Gothic transcends dark aesthetics or any rituals that may be connected with the idea of Gothicness. For me, the Gothic is the only mode or genre that opens up a portal to self-discovery and empowerment. As it has been doing over the years, it has led me to explore the depths of my own nature and this has become a pathway to unforeseen greatness in recent years.
In this article, I want to talk about why embracing the Gothic can become a journey to your personal growth and success and how you too can find your way to increased confidence in expressing yourself authentically and making choices that align with you regardless of societal expectations.
Embracing the Gothic within
Exploring your "Gothicness" is an invitation to more introspective aspects of your personality and interests that can lead to several positive outcomes such as self-acceptance, authenticity, stimulations of your creativity and artistic expression, a deeper understanding of emotions and complexities, development of your critical thinking and individualism and therefore questioning societal standards, connect with yourself and others at a different level which can lead to future opportunities, personal growth, and resilience through the confrontation of fears, overcoming challenges, developing resilience in the face of adversity, discovery of your uniqueness and become more confident in how you connect with your environment.
But can we talk about a "Gothic Persona?" What are the breadcrumbs that you may have been following all this time over the years, without even realising it, and that could benefit you? This is what I am going to develop for you in the next lines:
Unveiling the Layers
In Jungian terms "the Gothic Persona" often embodies elements of mystery, darkness, and complexity. In a literary context, this is the character with the following attributes:
He or she is mysterious and brooding. In his/her complexity, he/she often shows multifaceted personalities, harbouring hidden depths and conflicting emotions.
This character might be introspective, grappling with inner turmoil, or battling with his/her own desires and fears.
He/she might be secretive in that he/she tends to conceal parts of himself/herself or hold secrets, adding an aura of mystery.
He/she can be emotionally intense as his/her extreme emotions may consume him/her.
They are melancholic and haunted by a sense of melancholy or possess a dark, melancholic demeanour.
His/her dual nature embodies both light and dark traits, which lead the character to struggle with conflicting inner aspects.
There tend to be some internal conflicts, and he/she is probably battling between societal expectations and his/her inner desires.
This character has a profound connection to the supernatural due to personal experience or simply fascination for the occult.
He/she has an appreciation for the romantic sublime and aesthetics brought by dark sceneries, mysterious events, and the unconventional.
The attractions to symbols of darkness, shadows, ruins, and decay reflect their internal struggles and feel a connection with literary tropes such as the Byronic hero/villain, the damsel in distress, or the haunted protagonist.
Overall, like "the Gothic persona" in fiction, those who resonate with the Gothic at the levels described above may show a rich complexity and often feel they are navigating the blurred lines between light and dark to figure out who they are and how they can fit into a society that prioritizes light over darkness, forgetting that there's also light and beauty in that other space.
If any of the above have resonated with you, then you are in Gothic Land, my friend.
Self-Reflection: Embracing the Unconventional
I don't know of anybody who at some point in his/her life has felt that he/she doesn't fit in. When my student asked me how I knew I was Gothic, I sensed curiosity, but also dread and otherness.
He admitted that going down into his psyche was something he feared, although it also raised some kind of curiosity. I sensed that all he wanted to do was to fit in and not raise any questions around him. After many conversations, all he wanted was to get by. He was aiming to stay as conventional as he could amongst all the stirring up that was going on in his life during the pandemic, and as he started shifting his life pieces, all he got to achieve was to become unconventional for the people around him.
As societal beings, being unconventional can sometimes mean a breach of our internal beliefs and can raise problems and complications with the world outside of us. A world that until then provided us with shelter, food, and comfort.
Despite the negative side of being unconventional, challenging societal norms can also be incredibly powerful in other senses for the following reasons:
We can become authentic and learn to express ourselves with the right vocabulary and expressions that really fit with us. This gives free will to our creativity and innovations as we are invited to explore new ideas, art forms, lifestyles, and approaches that diverge from the norm. Here is where our uniqueness lies, which coincides with the principles of the Jungian individuation process.
When we challenge the norms we are contributing to progress as we question the world around us which may lead to breaking up with these norms, empowering and liberating us.
When we stand up for what we believe in, we foster a sense of empowerment and individual agency, that helps us break down barriers and stereotypes, creating space for marginalized or underrepresented groups to have their voices heard and their experiences validated.
Being our true self requires a lot of personal work, but once we have embraced this confidence we will be more resilient to possible external attacks, become stronger, and foster personal growth and self-discovery. As a consequence, we will be more open-minded to new possibilities, diverse perspectives, and different ways of living, leading to personal enrichment and a deeper understanding of the world.
We can embrace diversity and respect for others, as we recognize that a rich tapestry of ideas, cultures, and identities exists beyond societal norms which will broaden our views toward different viewpoints and lifestyles, creating a more tolerant and accepting society with all its colourfulness and variations.
Unearthing Strength in Darkness
All this process is an invitation to face your Shadows in order to achieve personal growth as per the Jungian approach. This involves acknowledging and coming to terms with the darker, repressed aspects of the self, which has several profound implications:
Self-awareness and integration by confronting and integrating the Shadow. That is, accepting your darker aspects and recognizing that they are a part of the whole self. This process leads to a more balanced and authentic sense of identity.
Confronting the Shadow can be emotionally challenging but leads to personal growth by addressing unresolved conflicts and emotional wounds. As a consequence this process leads to personal transformation, fostering emotional maturity and enhancing psychological well-being.
Once you understand and accept your Shadow you can have healthier relationships with others. This is due to having developed greater empathy, understanding, and acceptance of others' shadows too. Therefore, you will gain a new kind of wisdom to resolve conflicts, as projections and unconscious biases diminish.
You will become a whole creator once you have unleashed your creative energy by tapping into repressed emotions, thoughts, and experiences, enriching creative expression. This way you will become more aligned with your true self, integrating both light and dark aspects.
As a result, you will experience spiritual growth as you get to a deeper understanding of yourself and the interconnectedness of all aspects of existence.
Finding Your Home and Inspiration in Gothic Art and Literature
Once you have stopped showing resistance to your Gothic nature, you will make time to read and enjoy all the richness the artistic and literary heritage of the Gothic genre offers, as it will inspire your creativity and introspection.
You can explore different Gothic characters and turn them into your personal guides as they can reflect various facets of the human psyche.
In addition, you can explore its themes, aesthetics, and underlying messages that can bring you all that background information and fertile soil you are looking for in your process of individuation.
You can do this by:
Reading widely, starting with the classics such as Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, Dracula by Bram Stoker, or Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë. However, it is also very important to explore contemporary Gothic works to see how the genre has evolved. This is a very easy task to do these days, as we have the possibility of connecting with many different creators and their audiences through social media.
Analyse the most recurrent Gothic themes like the supernatural, isolation, darkness, psychological depth, and the exploration of the human psyche. As you read you will be identifying elements that resonate with your own experiences or emotions. Those are the things you need to pay attention to and make notes on.
Explore Gothic art, architecture, and visual representations. Investigate Gothic cathedrals, dark romantic paintings, and Gothic-inspired artworks. Note the use of shadows, dramatic lighting, and haunting atmospheres.
You could also keep exploring your own fashion or design elements when certain elements resonate with you. Dark, moody aesthetics, Victorian-inspired clothing, as you have seen with me, and macabre accessories are common features with some creators.
When you self-reflect on all these aspects you will actually be answering the question, once my student asked me. Answering the whys and hows makes you reflect on certain aspects of your personality, experiences, or emotions in a very unique way. Exploring how these elements speak to your inner self will become part of your individuation process.
How do you connect with Gothic narratives and characters? Do any of the proposed topics resonate with you? At what level? What do you experience physically when presented with certain contexts and stories? How you answer these questions will tell you about your inner walls and struggles. Identification is key.
It's important to engage with the Gothic, either through the writing of stories, painting, creating decorations, jewellery, clothing, or any other way of artistic expression that can allow you to explore themes of the unknown and the subconscious. Carl Jung used to say that before we can interiorise or learn the theory of something we have to experiment with it (The relations between the ego and the unconscious).
Find your tribe by joining communities and groups that resonate with you in the area of interest inside the Gothic. When you share with others your thoughts and creations, something magical happens: your passion becomes validated because it becomes real when shared with others.
Live your passion, integrate it into your daily life. For me, the Gothic has led me to mentor others in self-development. I have been creating YouTube videos since 2020 and writing essays for collections, seminars, and conferences (something I would have never thought of in my life as a teacher of English as a second language). Now I am embracing a new career in the second half of my life as a Jungian researcher, scholar, academic, and author.
Never stop reflecting and evolving. By allowing this exploration to shape your thoughts, emotions, and creative endeavours, you are becoming more whole and therefore more balanced.
By immersing yourself in the depths of Gothic art, literature, and even TV productions, exploring its themes under the Jungian lens, and connecting with its emotional core, you can find a sense of home and inspiration within its intriguing, dark, and evocative world that will open many personal and professional doors.
If you feel like this is a big endeavour and would like to be accompanied by other people like you and me, I just have the perfect mentoring course for you.
It starts next Saturday 13th January and it's at its launch price at the moment.
For more information about the course visit the following page:
Embracing one's Gothic nature has an important and life-changing transformative potential. That's why, if this article has resonated with you, I invite you to embark on your journey of self-exploration and share with the world your unique Gothic essence.
By delving into the Gothic within, you will discover a path to personal greatness and authenticity that will even surprise you.
Did you miss my FREE webinar: Exploring the Depths? Click on the following link:
I hope to see you very soon,
Until my next entry,
Stay Gothic, my friend!