Column: You Only Pose Once

Our new columnist Jasmine Zhu discusses her love-hate relationship with being a quote-unquote poser.

You Only Pose Once

Our new columnist Jasmine Zhu discusses her love-hate relationship with being a quote-unquote poser.


I’ve always envied people who manage to look effortlessly cool no matter where they are or what they’re doing. “Here are my opinions, take it or leave it”—a mentality I’ve never been able to manage, having to constantly backtrack and micro-analyze everything I say and do. When I say “yolo” what I really mean is, “Now that I’ve fully weighed out the pros and cons and the situation seems favorable, sure, I suppose I will, right after I’ve checked my bank account and accomplished my list of tasks for today.” My friend Sam Ray is one of the lucky ones. He can pull off floral leggings as a dude and looks really hot. It’s all in the ‘tude. (Also in the bone structure, but then again not all of us are as lucky as Sam.)

I would really like to believe that I’m not a poser. I would really, really like to believe this, but I know it’s not the case. I know this because I recently went to a goth club and completely embarrassed myself. This will be a breeze, I thought to myself, entering a drafty bar filled with denizens in gimp suits and steam-punks galore. Hail Satan. 666.

“You really invested a lot of your personality in witch house,” a friend once quietly observed.

The embarrassment I felt at this statement hit me full force again at the club and left a ringing sound in my ears, and my face felt very hot and flushed, and I knew I was doing that thing where I kind of descend into an abyss of eternal shame. What was I even doing here? Why did I think this outfit looked passably goth—what sway could my altogether harmless Nasty Gal leotard possibly hold over these people who had invested time and care into elaborate body mods and those huge furry boots that seem to be all the rage? Ugh damn did I look uncool. I was a try-hard lame-o. I wanted to go home. I even started to miss Mom a little bit. This night was a disaster.

I didn’t recognize a single song that was playing. Where was the Bauhaus I was looking for? I should’ve died in the ‘80s. Actually, I should’ve never been born. I was the biggest clown at the goth club, despite people wearing actual clown makeup. If there was a sign above my head it would’ve read “POSER” in flashing neon. How could this be happening to me? I, Jasmine Zhu, self-styled authentic™ goth girl, a poser?

Whatever. Yolo! I yolo’d out of desperation. Me and my pals, some other aspiring part-time goths in black Levis and sensible black flats, we did the orb.

“What’s the orb?” I shouted over the din of the room pulsating to the beat of a song I couldn’t Shazam.

The orb is simple, someone explained. The orb is the invisible ball of energy that will give you strength and the will to live in spite of feeling like a loser. You can’t see the orb, but you can feel it. (In some other circles, the orb is known as “vibes.”)

I caught the orb and I passed it. Someone else caught it. It was infectious. Heck yeah, we were doing the orb! The night was a success, after all. I went to bed feeling pretty okay about myself.

Listen, we’ve all felt like posers, probably. Maybe not really cool people like Sam, but basically everyone else. Maybe you’ve even called out someone for being a poser. The world is constantly changing, trends come and go. We can’t always be originators and early adopters, try as we might. Right now I’m focusing on trying to be less of a cyber-bully and more of a cyber-goth. (Sorry to any of my haters I might have personally victimized in the past. I know how you feel now.)

No one is born knowing how to do the orb. We all have to start somewhere.