11 Things All Sensitive, Emo-Type '90s Kids Did

In the '90s, I, like many of my friends, were experimenting with being "emo". What this meant was that instead of hiding our hyper-intense teen emotions, we'd wear them on our sleeves. I mean literally, we'd wear shirts that we bought from Hot Topic that had depressing song lyrics screen-printed on the sleeves. Our feelings were too big to hide, so we collectively decided to make being sensitive and emotional a trend. And it kinda worked?

Controlling the way we dressed and the songs we put in our Discmans was one way that we dealt with the fact that we could not mange our feelings. In the early throws of teenhood, everything felt very extreme. Us sensitive kids were constantly made dizzy by the disorienting after-effects of having highs and lows. If something good happened — like our crush IM'ed us — we were on top of the world. But if something bad happened — our crush signed offline without ever saying hello — we'd be crying ourselves to sleep while listening to Bright Eyes. If you were an emo kid in the '90s, you know these struggles all too well. These are 11 other things you might relate to as well:

Put On Too Much Black Eyeliner


At the time, we convinced ourselves that it helped us feel more invisible – to smear our eyes with black smudge. But really, we wanted people to notice us. We wanted to paint our faces so that it was hard to miss us. We wanted to stand out.

Worked The LiveJournal Community

We were all up on that website. I wrote on LiveJournal for hours, ever day after school. Then I'd spend a few hours just writing comments to people and reading about their own emotionally complex lives. Most of us had never met, but we were all convinced we were best friends and would all run off to a better world together once we were 18.

Wore Our Hair Like Drapes


Emo hair styles mostly revolved around a straightening iron and involved slicking your hair as close to your face as possible, crossing your forehead by way of your opposite ear. It was almost like a comb-over, but we thought it was cute. It was easy to hide behind and easy to be noticed by. A win/win for the sensitive kid who can't decide if they want attention or anonymity.

Made Friends With Other Emo Kids On Myspace

Myspace was a super easy place to find other sensitive kids. For the most part, they dedicated their profile pages to that very sentiment. If you were an emo kid, your Top 8 was comprised of people who had inky dyed black hair, facial piercings, and star tattoos.

Spent Your Money On Emo Band Merch


My friends and I spent all of our allowance on merch at concerts. It was always worth waiting on the line and spending all of our money because the merch sales team was typically almost as crushable as the band. And, we needed shirts and wristbands to wear to the next concert — and there was always a next concert.

Drew On Your Chucks

If you had a Sharpie marker and Chuck Taylors, they were covered. You'd draw lyrics, you'd have your friends write you messages, you'd doodle, you'd totally deface them and make your parents really pissed for buying you new shoes in the first place.

Collected Cardigans


Sensitive kids liked to cover up. You could never really tell what season it was based on what we were wearing. We loved the retro vibe of a good cardigan or sweater and never left a thrift store without a new one. Our closets were filled with them, we had more than we could ever make use of.

Wrote Lyrics On Everything

We were always listening to sad or heavy songs and we were so moved by the lyrics, that we felt the need to write them on everything. I painted an Elliott Smith song on my wall once — my parents didn't notice for a whole year.

Melted Candles On Things


Candles are adult, romantic, sensual, and moody. Wax is fun to play with. I think we sensitive kids thought that playing with wax made us moody adults and so we poured it on our fingers and in our journals and ruined all of our candles by playing with it. Most of the floor of my teenage bedroom was covered in old wax. Actually, it's still there. Wax is very stubborn.

Brought Your Journal Everywhere

We were basically like Harriet the Spy, without clear observations. We brought our journals everywhere and were always scrawling something in it. They were so packed with our secrets and emotions, we'd be mortified if anyone found them, but at the same time, I think we all wanted to be found out and understood.

Tried To Meet Bandmates After Concerts


When a song spoke to us, it rocked our world and expanded our hearts. We'd go to concerts with the hope of meeting the band afterwards. We didn't even know what we wanted from them, we were just kids, but we never stopped trying to meet them. We waited by the tour bus outside. We tried to sneak into the greenroom. We thought if we had a chance to meet them, they'd fall in love with us, too.

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