The Straightedge Stigma

Straightedge: (especially among fans of hardcore punk music) having an ascetic or abstinent lifestyle.

This is the actual definition that Google gave me.
Right behind “a bar with one accurately straight edge, used for testing whether something else is straight,” of course.straightedge 2

Admittedly, I had to look up what the word “ascetic” meant as well because I don’t even know how to pronounce it, let alone know the definition. It’s described as the practice of severe self-discipline and abstention from all forms of indulgence, usually for religious reasons.

So by definition and technical terms, someone who is straightedge is an uptight (“severe”) bible thumper who doesn’t smoke, do drugs, drink alcohol, have premarital sex, or masturbate (“all forms of indulgence”–I’m probably missing some, let’s be honest) and just so happens to like hardcore punk music.

Fair enough. Except not at all.

I can’t speak directly about being straightedge because I’ve never given myself that label and have definitely indulged in my fair share of gluttony. But what I can speak about is the fact that I’ve become some sort of a “straightedge magnet,” if you will.

Let’s start with some background stories: I was 16 when I got my first boyfriend. He was a year older (17, in case you’re bad at math) and partook in smoking, drinking, partying, all of that. I was never into it.

I was 17-20 when I was dating my second boyfriend. He happened to be straightedge. I really had no idea what this was as a 17 year old but he basically just explained it as “I don’t drink, I don’t do drugs, I don’t party.” I thought it was the coolest thing ever because like I said, I just wasn’t into that whole scene in high school. I knew I could’ve been a lot cooler and probably would’ve had a lot more friends had I decided to drink at that age but I just didn’t care. And the fact that he was intentionally not doing it made it easier for me to refrain from participating in that lifestyle. But I still never considered myself straightedge because I always straightedgehad the thought in the back of my mind like, “Well, what if I want to drink at dinner with my friends when I get older?”

When we broke up I took the opportunity to “experiment” with things I felt like I should have tried as a teenager. I drank twice and also may have smoked weed a couple times before I turned 21. After I turned 21 was a whole different story and I went a little crazy because I actually found drinking and partying fun. I enjoyed myself. At this point in my life, a mere 9 months later, my perspective on all of that has completely changed. But we’ll talk about that in more detail another time.

The “straightedge stigma” I speak of is the association between straightedge people and judgment and negativity. People who label themselves as straightedge generally get put into a box with these negative mentalities. The idea is that all straightedge people think they’re better than those who drink, party, and engage in lifestyle choices they don’t necessarily agree with for themselves. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely think those people are out there and that sucks but the majority of straightedge people (at least the ones I’ve met) honestly aren’t concerned with and don’t really care about what other people are doing. And that’s the way it should be for every kind of lifestyle choice. Here’s some friendly cliché advice: Don’t judge people. Worry about yourself. Other people’s choices do not affect you.

I feel like straightedge people are few and far between. In all of my online dating experience (see Tinder and Lightning) I’d say that 9/10 guys suggest meeting at a bar for the first date (so maybe I’m exaggerating a LITTLE BIT, but seriously, it’s a large percentage.) Yet, since my last real relationship, I’ve come across two more straightedge guys and they’ve ended up being some of my favorite pestraightedge 3ople.

I try not to be the kind of person who says “OMG it must be a sign!” but I truly feel as though these people have come into my life as inspiration. One recent morning I woke up and was kind of just like “I don’t feel like drinking anymore.” Maybe these inspirations had something to do with it and maybe they didn’t but either way I received a sign that made me aware of the fact that maybe the drinking/partying/doing drugs lifestyle just isn’t for me.

Next time you’re thinking about judging someone based on whether they’ve chosen to drink alcohol or not, think about all the more important things you could be focusing your attention on. People who drink are not bad people and people who don’t aren’t losers. At the end of the day, we’re all just humans.

**Photos are not mine. Credit goes to: www.pinterest.com.**

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