Although it is 2013 and I am now 20 years old, I owe my 12-year-old-hot-pink-seatbelt-belt-wearing-self to rejoice in the news of Fall Out Boy reuniting!

If you haven’t heard, pop-punk band, Fall Out Boy (FOB), announced they have ended their hiatus and are back in action! Not only are they back, but they have released a new single from an album to be released later this year and scheduled a tour that will kick off in May in Milwaukee. This all said, I think screaming said information from your rooftops and standing outside a friend’s window with a stereo blasting From Under The Cork Tree is the only way to properly celebrate such momentous news.

Why do I feel this should take notice, you might ask? I have this to say: As you probably experienced (or experiencing now), pre-teen life is when many start developing special relationships with music. The connection seems, partly, made to combat heartache of unrequited crushes, feeling misunderstood by peers, parents and siblings, finding meanings in your mind, and most importantly, enjoying yourself and the life you’re living. For my friends and me, the music that could do that for us was none other than that of eff-oh-bee. They helped me find a semblance of who I was as a young girl and gave me tools to continue figuring out myself once I moved on from their music. Because of that, many others and I should tip our hats to FOB’s good ol’ days, as well as the days to come.

In honor of FOB band members, I have thought of 4 reasons why I appreciate them (I am about to sprinkle Kraft powder cheesiness all over this, so please bear with me).

I appreciate Fall Out Boy and their reuniting because..

I wouldn’t know real passion without experiencing puppy-passion.
Fall Out Boy, I discovered, would become my first unhealthy obsession. Over a few years, I collected t-shirts, jackets, a messenger bag, tote bag, trucker hat and necklaces, etc. My bedroom walls were lined with posters of concert photos and ripped out spreads from Rolling Stone (Tiger Beat, J-14, too, let’s be real). My shelves had dolls, ahem, action figures of the band members. I was part of their fan club, Overcast Kids and supported Pete Wentz’s clothing line, Clandestine Industries. If possible, I would’ve copied what Ben Wrightman did in Fever Pitch and purchased FOB toilet paper. In addition to all the stuff, I went to their concerts and felt unbridled joy. I managed to see FOB over 10 times. I loved having the bottoms of my shoes (checkered slip on Vans, I’ll have you know) sticky from beer-covered venue floors, the swaying crowd that would eventually form pockets of mosh circles, seeing guitar players jumping off stereo speakers and crowd surfing, crowd surfing, and more crowd surfing. Looking back, I don’t exactly understand how I could be so crazed over a group of musicians that it felt necessary to own so many tangible items or see them so many times live in concert in order to symbolize my love. However, this desire for FOB merchandise and maintaining a high concert attendance as representation of my fanaticism would serve as training wheels to understanding how to be fervent sans these things. The intensity I felt about FOB will always be a good comparison to anything else I develop interest in, knowing that thoughts and ideas developed in response to a passion means much, much more than the amount of concrete things I have to show that I am, in fact, a fan.

They showed me community is one of the most important things to have when getting through huge life changes. As I mentioned earlier, middle school can bring about some pretty trying times: You become cognizant of what your body looks like; there is no playground to play on at lunchtime; conversation between friends shifts from handclap/jump rope rhymes to code names for boys you like; you gain more responsibility from adults other than your parents; your heart gets hurt by crushes and friends. etc. Lots of life changes. How was I supposed to find grounding and friends when so many things in my world were changing? Lucky for me, FOB was my guiding light. More than different wardrobe/accessories for every day of the week and things to clutter my room, Fall Out Boy provided a community and thread that would seam my friends together. We found solace in their lyrics. We would blast their tracks in carpools on the way to practice and fall asleep to them in karaoke boom boxes at sleepovers. Beyond sharing them with my childhood friends, I met people at FOB concerts who loved them the way I did. Meeting someone in the setting of a FOB concert inherently meant that you somehow understood them in a way that you might not if you met them in any other situation. It meant, “I get your deal, and I’m glad you’re here with me.” With FOB as a crutch and cushion for those confusing times, we were able to stay strong, like-minded and find others who were trying to do the same.

I learned to like the things I like and not mind the rest. Even though my inner circle of friends shared a similar liking for FOB, lots of kids my age did not find them to be so musically talented. FOB and bands similar were seen as emo (I still haven’t found an accurate definition of what that really means), which was not the coolest genre to associate with. Being a FOB fan, especially as intense as I was, brought along a few hecklers that probed me to support why I had written FOB lyrics all over my binders. I was never bullied for loving them or anything, but I was always playing defense when they were a topic discussed. I had to explain that FOB simply clicked with me. Normally, I never swayed any opinions, but it taught me to be steadfast in my interests and what I love, and to not mind what others thought. Since I learned that lesson in middle school, I never lost the mentality to proudly love what I love and not think twice if it’s going to change which rung I stand on the social ladder.

They did a good job at just “being there.” FOB made stupid silly video updates. They blogged random quotes and offered book suggestions. They shared stories about being both on and off the road. You were able to know the band members through a lens separate from their music. They made sure you knew they cared for their fan base, that they cared about what you thought as a listener and friend. I know many artists do this nowadays, but FOB was one of the first groups to utilize the Internet as means of communicating with fans, other than through songs. Their website had a Q&A section where fans could submit anything they wanted to say, and one time Pete Wentz answered a dumb question of mine, and it about meant the world to me. As a young girl, to know that a band who traveled all over and gained such fame could recognize me gave a sense of importance and belonging that I could not find elsewhere.

It’s odd to reminiscence on this time of my life, especially having been absent from the band so long and experienced so many other types of loves since those days. However, their revitalization has transported me back to my middle school self, but this time with the lessons I’ve learned over the years and ultimately allowed me recognize what they truly gave me. It was more than albums of catchy songs, but instilled fundamentals that I should be myself no matter what that means. I don’t know what could be more important than understanding a true sense of self. I have Fall Out Boy to thank for that.

I look forward to seeing what fruition is to come from their hiatus, but until then, I’m going to put their Take This To Your Grave album on repeat and bask in the joy that Fall Out Boy isn’t something I have to take to my grave just yet.

By Danielle St. Marie

Feature image via.