X Marks The Spot: Why I'm Straight Edge
Politics and Activism

X Marks The Spot: Why I'm Straight Edge

The story of finding who I am within a punk subculture.

Photo by Taylor Bryant on Unsplash

I’ve always been a straight edge. Even before I knew the phrase itself or equated my life with it, I’ve never had alcohol or done drugs and it was never something I had really considered implementing into my life.

In high school, that naturally started to become a problem. The group I hung out with in high school was pretty tight-knit, we would hang out on the weekends in someone’s basement or go boating when the weather was nice but eventually, everyone collectively decided that doing those things weren’t fun anymore without alcohol involved. Every weekend our gatherings started turning into loud parties in dimly lit basements with the same annoying pop-chart music playing on repeat. While I still loved my friends, getting together with them on weekends became less and less fun. The more they drank the less I recognized them as my friends. So I’d just sit there unable to hold real, full conversations. At times I would still have fun and laugh with them, but overall I definitely preferred the more honest and sober nights.

For the most part, they let me be, but no one ever knew what to do with me at those parties. At times, they would become very aware that I wasn’t participating and offer me a drink. Because I always said no thank you, people either walked away, made half-hearted attempts at conversations which never went anywhere, or made fun of me for not be “as cool” as them.

By my junior year of high school, I was called a pretentious bitch more than once for staying quiet at the lunchroom table when conversations shifted to how drunk or high everyone had gotten that weekend. They started to see me as having a holier-than-thou attitude when in reality, I just felt isolated from them. In ways, things went from being completely normal to rather hostile.

Friends I had grown up with were making snide comments toward me or stopped inviting me to things that thought I would judge them for. The more our interest diverged, the more isolated I became from the people I loved. I felt like an outcast where I once had a huge group of people to fall on and I didn’t know why something so small like not wanting to drink made me so different from everyone else. I felt like there was something severely wrong with me.

So while going through this, I threw myself deeper into music. I grew up on pop punk and alternative music and owe a lot of who I am to Green Day’s “American Idiot” for throwing me into it all. I started spending more time going to concerts and finding that, inside venues, I wasn’t alone or weird because everyone there was unified by the music. Shows became to me what drugs and alcohol were becoming to the people around me: a release from the world. I didn’t need anything else if I could chase the feeling music gave me for the rest of my life.

Eventually, I found out that I wasn’t alone in that mindset. In the middle of my junior year, I found a video of Patty Walters of As It Is explaining why he was straight edge and his experience in coming to find out what straight edge was. It aligned perfectly with what I was going through in my own life. I watched the video with tears streaming down my face. After feeling so isolated from my friends, I was given a place to exist unapologetically in this punk rock subculture.

I came to find out that straight edge happened because of the music I already related to and there were members of bands I loved and listened to prescribed to the same lifestyle: Patty Walters of As It Is, Andy Hurley of Fall Out Boy, Davey Havok and Jade Puget of AFI, Joe Principe, Tim McIlrath, and Zach Blair of Rise Against, and so many others that there’s an entire Wikipedia page dedicated to them. The two things that felt most important to who I was as a person at the time came together and I started to feel whole and normal again.

My senior year of high school, things started to settle with my friends. I committed to Arizona State University for their prestigious writing program and was looking forward to the new life I could create outside of my suburban town. I was mistaken to think my problems were over though. The same friends who had called me a pretentious bitch a year earlier became increasingly concerned about my school of choice. A party school for a girl like me? I wouldn’t fit in, I wouldn’t have any friends, I wouldn’t find a place in that world. As much as I hated to admit it their words got to me and going off to college became my greatest anxiety. I was terrified I would spend four years in my biggest mistake, friendless and miserable.

Two months before the end of senior year things had gotten so bad I was having panic attacks almost daily. My mom took me into a local tattoo parlor one day and told me I was getting an X, the symbol of straight edge, tattooed that day as a reminder that I would be okay.

I graduated, moved to Arizona, and started school at ASU. Within the first week, I met the friends that I still get to gladly call family. At first, parties were a loop of high school, declining drinks and feeling as If I needed to explain myself but soon I realized no one cared if I had water rather than vodka. If they did ask me why, I’d show my tattoo and explain what straight edge was and I was mostly met with positive responses. Nowadays, it’s completely a non-event. I go to parties with my friends rather frequently and they’ve always made sure that I have a place in that world with them despite my lifestyle choices. Not a single person I know now is straight edge and it doesn’t matter.

Last month I turned 21 and while old anxieties kept me slightly on edge, my friends had me chug chocolate cashew milk at midnight and still sang happy birthday. It was slightly gross to chug chocolate cashew milk, but I knew it would mean the world to my 15-, 16-, and 17-year-old self to see how happy and comfortable I am now in my straight edge skin. Instead of bars, I spent my 21st going to concerts and an Emo Nite. I spent all night dancing to the music that has quite literally shaped my life with my non-straight edge friends who found the same euphoria in the music they didn’t need the drinks to have fun.

But that’s not why I’m straight edge. That’s what life has been for me as a straight edge. It wasn’t something I consciously chose to be, it just fell into place. I just didn’t see the appeal. Even in the most unglamorous moments, I’m at ease knowing everything I say or do is purely of my influence. In short, I just feel so much more comfortable being wholeheartedly myself.

For anyone else reading this, whether you’re straight edge or not, finding that place within this music subculture I belonged to made it possible for me to begin to feel comfortable with who I was and allowed me to be in a place now where I’m happy with my life as is. I hope in writing this that others will feel the same.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

13 Father's Day Shirts Under $30 To Gift The Dad Wearing The Same Two Every Day In Quarantine

You've been begging him to change it up, and now he won't have a choice.

Let's be honest: most of our dads are wearing the same shirts today that they probably wore while changing our diapers and holding our hands as we learned to walk. Sure, we love them for it. But whether you're quarantined with him wearing the same two shirts on rotation every week, or every time you FaceTime him, you know what he'll be wearing before he answers the phone, he needs to add some new items to his wardrobe rotation.

And you know dads — they'll feel guilted into using practically anything you were to give them. But these shirts are sure-fire ways to get him to switch up his wardrobe, and he'll be more than excited to wear each and every one of them. Plus, most of them are under twenty dollars, so no harm in dropping more than a couple in to your cart and letting Dad have his pick of his favorites.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

I Sat Down (Virtually) With Hollis Tuttle To Talk About Coronavirus's Impact On The Wellness Industry

Just because coronavirus has greatly impacted the wellness industry doesn't mean wellness stops.

If you're anything like me, your weekly fitness classes are a huge part of your routine. They keep me fit, healthy, and sane. Honestly, these classes help my mental health stay in tip-top shape just as much as they help my physical health.

Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, gyms and fitness studios are facing temporary closure. Yes, this means my personal routine is thrown a curveball, but this also means the wellness industry is one of many that is looking at unemployment and hardship. Do I miss my Monday spin class? Of course. But do the wellness professionals whose worlds were flipped upside down have a lot more to overcome than a slight change of routine? Absolutely. Thankfully, if anyone can prove the ultimate flexibility, it's the wellness industry.

Keep Reading... Show less

My Boyfriend Has Changed Since Quarantine Began, And I Don't Know What To Do

"All he says is 'I love you,' which is great and all but OMG I can't get anything else out of him."

Each week Swoonie B will give her advice on anonymous topics submitted by readers. Want to Ask Swoonie B something related to dating and relationships? Fill out this form here — it's anonymous.

Dear Swoonie B,

My boyfriend and I have been dating for almost a year, which has been the best year of my life (as far as i know). Well we go to different schools and are both very involved in sports and school activities which makes it hard to see each other. During this quarantine it is especially hard. Since we haven't seen each other in over a week things are kind of tense. He won't really talk to me much and I always check in on him to make sure he is doing well and to just see how he is, ya know being a girlfriend. Well apparently that is driving him crazy and I don't understand how. I'm not being controling or clingy, i'm just checking in on him. While this is happening, I also have noticed how he just doesn't really care anymore. I'll leave him paragraphs of sweet love letters to wake up to and I encourage him throughout his day but I just don't get it in return. I love him with all of me and I obviously care about him a lot. Also, I've compared how he talked to me before all of this has happened. He was so sweet and caring, texting me a lot and telling me he loves me and just making sure everything is OK but he doesn't do that anymore. All he says is "I love you," which is great and all but OMG I can't get anything else out of him. He is a little stressed at home with trying to find another job to pay for his car, constantly having to do things for his mom, being responsible for his siblings, and managing school. I know thats a lot but im doing a lot too right now and going through a lot of the same stuff he is but It seems to me he just does not care and i don't know what to do. Please help me or give me some advice on what to say, what not to say, what to do, what not to do. Anything at this point will help. Thank you!

If I had a dollar for every time I heard "these are unprecedented times," I'd be rich. But that's because it's true!

Keep Reading... Show less
Tower 28

On paper, Amy Liu appears to be one of the most intimidating women in the beauty business. Not only was she the person to build Smashbox Cosmetics into what it is today, she went on to lead luxury, high-end brands like Kate Somerville and Josie Maran — just to name a few.

But sitting down to meet Liu for the first time in an underground New York bar over a year ago felt like meeting a friend I'd known since childhood. As she walked into the bar in a chic red dress, it was impossible not to feel her immediate warm presence. When she talks about her history as an entrepreneur (and truly, at heart, she always was one), you don't get the sense that she's selling you anything, though with her impeccable taste, I'd use anything that had her glowing review attached to it.

Keep Reading... Show less

Sixth grade was the year that you were allowed to participate in a school sport. This was what my friends and I had all been waiting for since we started middle school. I had already made the cheer team with my friends, but I had to wait to start that in the winter since we cheered for basketball. I really wanted to have some sort of activity in the fall, but I did not know what to do. Somehow, I decided to run cross country. Not really sure how I decided on a sport where it was quite literally just running. A few of my friends were doing it as well, so I knew it was going to be fun.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

Working Out Every Day During Quarantine Helps Me Feel A Sense Of Control

Physical activity helps my mental health in a world that feels uncertain.

Before the pandemic, I exercised a handful of times a week at best. In quarantine, I've been exercising every single day. I don't want this article to be another spiel about how exercise "changed my life," and all the other cliches that health gurus use to convince others to work out more. Rather, I want to reveal that exercise is a tool that works for me because it boosts my mental health when I feel like the world is spiraling out of control.

Keep Reading... Show less

To say that 2020 has been a bit of a roller coaster is an extreme understatement. Who knew that this decade was going to start off like THIS!? Not me, not you, and not that sweet old lady who lives down the street. One thing is certain though — while the world may be a mess right now, you can still fuel your body with food that keeps you happy and healthy. Thankfully, as we are all spending more time inside, you can get healthy snacks delivered straight to your front door! Amazon has never been more convenient (and tasty).

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments