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The 9 Most Powerful Lessons Punk Rock Teaches You

“To me, punk rock is the freedom to create, freedom to be successful, freedom to not be successful, freedom to be who you are. It’s freedom.” – Patti Smith

1. If you’re scared of failing you’ll never try.

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One of the ethos punk teaches you is to just go for it, consequences be damned. Yes, that can be foolhardy, but success should be the byproduct of passion, not the goal.

2. Question everything, especially authority.

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For many, punk rock is their intro into politics and corruption, mostly through reading Dead Kennedys lyrics and then having their minds blown by bands like Discharge and Crass. More importantly, punk shows us that not just politicians are to be questioned, but everyone in authority, including your parents.

3. You don’t have to be perfect.

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The beauty of punk rock is that it is pure, raw emotion, an exposed nerve that doesn’t need to be slick and polished to get its point across. I mean, Sid Vicious was probably the world’s worst bassist but did that stop the Sex Pistols from making history? Hell. No. All punk asks is that you give it your all, and if you make a mistake then even better.

4. You’re an individual, so express it however you like.

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It’s your hair, it’s your body. Do what you will with it. Just no Crocs, please.

5. Sometimes you’re better off doing it yourself.

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The DIY philosophy implemented by punk rock was birthed from necessity, with bands and fans having to do everything on their own — including fanzines, record sleeves, etc. — knowing that no one was going to give them a hand. With that ideology, you can take on the world in all its aspects, since at the end of the day, the only person you can truly depend on is yourself.

6. The pit can be cathartic.

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Especially as a youth, when your hormones are out of control and it seems like the world is against you, there is nothing better than getting out your frustration by violently hurtling yourself and other youths doing the exact same thing. In the end you feel like you just ran a marathon, which, depending on how many times you ran around the circle, you probably did.

7. Don’t judge a book by its cover.

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Some of the nicest, gentlest, sweetest people you will ever meet will be wearing a studded leather jacket with liberty spikes atop their heads. Just because someone isn’t a cookie-cutter citizen doesn’t make them a threat, it just makes them different.

8. There is more out there than just punk rock.

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Punk is the perfect gateway to other genres of music, since its family tree is thick with branches — some that lead to metal, some that lead to ska and reggae, some to hip-hop, etc. Diving into punk really means diving into music in general.

9. You are not alone.

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The greatest gift punk rock offers is the fact that there are other people like you out there. There is nothing worse than feeling isolated, feeling like no one understands, and then — BAM! — here’s this music and this community that instantly gets you. It’s the reason you fell in love with it, and the reason that no matter what, you’ll always be punk at heart.

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