I live a straight edge lifestyle. For those who might not know, being straight edge means abstaining from drugs, alcohol, tobacco, and other substances. At first, not a lot of people really know what it means, but when (and if) they learn, the looks I get range from baffled to disturbed.
This is a lifestyle I’ve known about since I was seven years old. It started with me watching professional wrestling (thanks CM Punk!) and eventually bled into my parents’ consistent encouragement for me to never smoke or drink, to which I pretty much followed suit for the majority of my life — there was a brief period in high school where I drank in social situations, but your brain goes on autopilot during those years anyway.
Being straight edge has been a big part of my life, but has also brought on numerous occasions of judgement and misunderstanding.
At 17, I decided to hop back on the substance-free bandwagon for two reasons: the first being I always had very little interest in drinking or drugs of any kind, and secondly, the few times I did drink, I hated it — something about booze burning my insides and making me hazy was just extremely off-putting.
Since then, there have been too many times where I’ve been asked “how do you not drink?” “Do you get the urge?” “Okay, but have you ever smoked weed?” Or the classic statement, “Man your life must be boring.” Does no one drink orange juice anymore? Forgive me for wanting to savour the flavour and not wanting to feel like my liver is rotting inside me. Quite frankly, why do you care? For me, blacked-out memories sound rather traumatic.
All this being said, I do not want to give off the impression that I hate drugs so much that I feel they should all be illegal, that I can’t be around them, or that I have disdain for people who associate with them. I have zero issues with anyone that dabbles in any substances and I, along with numerous other straight edge people, are huge advocates for recovery and decriminalization.
What bothers me the most is that I believe modern society normalizes drug culture to a point where it stigmatizes those who are straight edge or anyone that doesn’t feel obligated to get hammered. How often do we see people ridiculed for not going hard on a Friday night or get peer pressured into drinking until they’re blackout drunk?
Ultimately, respect should be given to people regardless of if you decide to indulge or not. You don’t need to pry, nor do you need to know what everyone’s rationale is for making the decisions they make. It is not a bad thing to relax while amongst friends and it does not make you boring. So please understand that we are not devoid of logic despite going against the grain by living this way. I can respect people’s decisions even if it’s not my cup of whiskey, so why can’t you respect mine?