Let me start off by saying this: I am a 21-year-old college student who has never been intoxicated.
I have never taken a hit of weed or any other illegal substance.
I use nonalcoholic grape juice at communion.
I have never even taken a single puff of a cigarette, and I have no intention to ever do so.
This may seem odd, and assuredly many of you are probably asking why. But to me, this is just everyday life.
I am not a goodie two-shoes, I am not sheltered, I’m not scared of getting caught and I am not a wuss. I am straight edge.
For those of you who do not know what this means, it means I do not use any sort of non-medicinal drug. Ever. Simply put I have been, and always will be, clean.
I realize the majority of those reading this are students at a public four-year university, so it may seem perplexing to you why I choose to live a life without ever feeling something other than standard reality.
But, by the end, you will at least be able to understand why I choose to live the way I do.
The term “straight edge” originally comes from the song of that name by seminal hardcore punk band Minor Threat.
They were one of the first bands to publicly advocate such a way of living and this song (unintentionally) started the eventual movement.
You may see the name written many ways: straightedge, straight edge, and sXe. However, the one constant symbol is the X.
Starting out as a way to detect minors in club music shows, it has since evolved into the symbol of the straight edge movement.
Now to understand why I do some of the things do, you must of course understand what it means to be straight edge. Straight edge is a not a fad. It is a lifestyle.
Because straight edge is a lifestyle, it means it is something a person practices for life.
You can’t choose to become straight edge on Monday, go to the bar on Friday, sober up on Saturday and still consider yourself edge.
It’s not like exercising where you can start in January first and stop around mid-February. It is a choice you have to be willing to commit to for the rest of your life.
It means that you choose to live a life free from drugs, alcohol and, for many, promiscuity.
It means that you make a commitment to yourself to stay free from these things as long as you live.
It is brotherhood and sticking together with those who are also morally against these things.
It is about being true to yourself, and about advocating such a lifestyle, but most importantly, it is about respect.
It is about respecting yourself and your body. It is about respecting it enough to not put harmful substances in it or to use it for some sort of self-gratifying pleasure.
It is not an easy choice, but I can assure you that when you make it, your life will be changed for the better.
I made the decision to become straight edge shortly after high school after becoming more engrossed in music and finding out about the movement.
I had no interest in drinking or using drugs in high school, and I realized that my life already matched up well with the lifestyle.
I saw what using drugs and alcohol could do to people, so I made the conscious choice to become straight edge.
Although I am rather fat and am more likely to go to a Wonder Years show than a Bane show, I still do what I can to respect myself and my body.
I continue to refrain from drinking any sort of alcohol, using any non-medicinal drugs and from sleeping around.
As I look around and see friends getting put on probation for drunk driving, potheads quitting college to “figure things out” and countless others passing out or puking from drinking too much, I know I have made the right choice and will continue to reap the benefits of it for the rest of my life.
To me, straight edge means that I will never have to end up in these types of situations, that I don’t have to worry about doing something I may regret and that I will always walk with a clear mind.
It means that I don’t need to be in some sort of altered consciousness to party or ever be happy. I will always know exactly what I am doing and I will have the ability to make the right decisions.
So if you ever see me at a show with Xs on my hands, know that it is not because I am a minor. It’s because I am there to have a good time, with a clear mind.
When you look at that X, know what it stands for.