Essential Life Lessons from Moshing and Heavy Metal concerts
Fans at a Slayer Concert – Photo by the Author

Lights go out. Electricity permeates the room. Hundreds of sweaty humans are crammed into a poorly ventilated venue. Mass-produced, overpriced draft beer sloshes from the 16 oz plastic cup of a random drunkard plodding his way through the crowd. The curtains drop and a night of epic battle begins.

Your spirit reverberates with double bass drums. Bodies slam and arms or legs flail. Screeches, growls, and devilish wails assault your ears.

I know, it all sounds fabulous.

Many of my fondest memories are from the mid-90s when bands, like Pantera, Sepultura, and Fear Factory were at the height of their careers. I still feel their music vibrating within my chest.

I recall coming home with black eyes and purple, squishy bruises on my knees and flashing them around like badges of honor. My mom says she didn’t worry about my injuries. She was more worried about the men who felt inclined to grope me (but that’s another story).

Even so, I’ve decided it’s time to hang up my steel-toed boots and retire from moshing. It was fun while it lasted, but times have changed, and so has my body (read: I’m getting old).

In retrospect, I’ve put together a list of 7 essential life lessons I learned during my moshing career, and I hope they will help you too!

#1 Pace Yourself

Concerts last about three or four hours depending on how many bands are on the docket, so you don’t want to tire before the end. Pace yourself! The same idea can translate to your life.

Find what works best for you to use your time most efficiently, and do it at your own speed. Stop worrying about what Dave and Sally are doing. They have their own paths, so there’s no sense in comparing their path to yours.

Most importantly, don’t forget to take care of yourself mentally and physically. Challenging yourself is fantastic, but it will lead to burnout if you take on too much, too often.

#2 Prepare for What May Come

Because the hits will keep on coming!

Life, like a mosh pit, is continuously in motion. There will always be some level of uncertainty, but you can alleviate some of your stress and anxiety by brainstorming.

Ask yourself questions, like “What are the potential outcomes in this situation?” and “How would I handle each?”

Adaptability also plays a crucial role in handling the unexpected. To practice adaptability, seek out new perspectives. Because screw the status quo!

Human brains become complacent once they get used to handling routine tasks. So next time you perform a particular task, consider how you might do it differently. You may just find a more efficient process.

Certain outcomes will always be out of your control. In these cases, you can learn how best to respond (with mindfulness), so they cause the least amount of disruption in your life.

#3 When You Go Down, Don’t Stay Down

You may trip, you may fall, or someone else may shove you down, but when it happens, make sure you don’t stay there. You might get trampled if you do.

Life is like this too. The little things can chip away at us, or one big, dramatic incident can bring us down for the count. Whatever you do, though, don’t stay there. Drag yourself up by your bootstraps and keep on keeping on. Your future will thank you for it.

#4 But It’s Okay to Reassess Your Strategy

You’ve tripped over a pile of tangled bodies and face planted into the slick, dingy concrete. That’s going to hurt later. You might want to sit this next song out.

That’s okay! You need to take some time to reassess your life. Acknowledge that it’s best to do so periodically instead of waiting for one of those aforementioned dramatic incidents to arise. But how do you do it?

Make time to reflect and assess at regular intervals. Reevaluate your goals. Examine what has been working for you and what needs improvement. Are you on track? If not, what can you adjust? Have your goals completely changed?

You’ll save yourself weeks, months, if not years, by going through this process. Besides, there’s nothing wrong with a little transformation. Reinvention is good for the soul.

#5 There’s Always Going to Be That Asshole

You know the one. You’ve taken a quick breather along the outer circle, but before you can brace yourself they casually creep up behind you, shoving you violently and sending you to your peril.

It’s no different in real life. Wherever you go, there they are. They’re the Internet trolls, the micromanagers, and the upstairs neighbors stomping around like Clydesdales in the middle of the night. You can’t always avoid them altogether, but you can learn how to spot them and refrain from reacting to their sinister tactics.

Trust they’ll get their karma someday.

#6 Sometimes You’ll Need Support (or to Offer it)

You can’t always go it alone. Sometimes you’ll need to hook arms with the biggest guy in the pit and skip around together like bosses. When one of you falls, you help the other up, and you extend this kindness to the rest of your Metal community.

Lifting each other up is the epitome of mosh pit etiquette!

You need this in your life too.

Humans crave connection. A great community, or network, will get you much farther than you could ever go alone. The best communities combine a mixture of family, friends, and colleagues who offer their support and camaraderie to help you rally.

There are enough naysayers in this world. Find some solace with your people.

#7 And Finally…

Don’t forget to have fun! Sometimes we need to burn off some of that pent-up energy and allow ourselves to let loose.

Moshing was like that for me. It was a true joy. And that’s backed by science.

So dance while cooking. Sing in your car, while picking a booger. Hike Mt. Everest and come back with frostbite on the tip of your nose and fingers.

Just don’t take your life so seriously that you’re unable to play. You don’t want to look back in 40 years and regret the experiences you didn’t take.


2 thoughts on “Moshing Taught Me These Essential Life Lessons

  1. As a metalhead who has seen her share of mosh pits over the last 25 years, I love this! Totally agree with #6! I too now prefer to stay in the front row or a row behind the moshpit, but when I look at kids moshing, it gives me so much energy!


    1. Thanks for reading, Chaitanya! And I agree! Sometimes I just want to be able to move. I remember going to a Pantera concert when I was 14 and feeling like it was safer near the pit than it was up by the rail. Too many stage diver kicking. Haha.


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