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XXX: What being Straight Edge does to you
Straight Edgers can have fun too. Exhibit A.
I first heard about Straight Edge when I was around 14. I didn't know much about it, all I knew was that people who were Straight Edge didn't drink. It wasn't until a few years later that I discovered just how much being Straight Edge can influence peoples' lives, and how much it changed in my own. This is simply an account of the events in my life, not a general statement.
First, let me explain what Straight Edge is. Straight Edge is a lifestyle (and movement) that originated from a single song entitled Straight Edge by the band Minor Threat, back in the 80s. The song, though short, laid down the ground rules for being Straight Edge: no drugs, no alcohol, no tobacco. Today, Straight Edge has spiralled into a movement with spin-offs such as hardline or Vegan Edge, which effect a great deal of people. The hobbies of people who consider themselves to be "poison-free" can range from simply keeping it to themselves to attacking people who use drugs, recreational or not. There is a thorough and objective documentation about it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aVPL6YCgj6M
But what does being Straight Edge change in one's life? Just like your average European teenager, I spent my weekends getting drunk, beginning in eighth grade. This habit persisted until tenth grade, when I started noticing the impact alcohol and going out had on my life. My grades had dropped, the relationships I had with people outside of my close group of friends were on thin ice and my health was not in the best shape. After a few things that happened while I was drunk and that affected my life intensely, I decided that I needed a change. Just at that point in time, not drinking was good enough. When I went back to Germany for my summer vacation however, things changed after an interesting conversation.
I was at McDonald’s with a friend of mine, where we met our friend’s older brother, singer of a band and Straight Edge. He asked us to join him and we ended up talking for a long while, mostly about Straight Edge. I had heard about it before, but the way he described it all to me was intriguing. It seemed to make him confident about who he was, to give him something he could stand up for and that strengthened his character from the core. Being very involved with the type of music that Straight Edge evolved from, I was taken in by it and saw it as an opportunity to help myself. I made the choice to follow a Straight Edge lifestyle, and soon began to see the changes in my life.
The first thing I noticed was the way my body reacted. I was never an alcoholic, but drinking as much as I did had affected my health. Once I stopped, I could sleep much better, had fewer migraines and could concentrate better. Maybe it was also a psychological change, but I felt healthier. I also began to pay more attention to what I ate: less fast food, more exercise and sleep. Even though many of my friends drink and smoke, they all supported my decision and accepted it right away. In Germany, I had no issues with my friends in terms of what they do and what I didn’t: we respected each others’ habits and didn’t make a fuss.
Once I came back to Sri Lanka, this became much harder. In Germany, my friends only consume tobacco and alcohol, whereas here in Sri Lanka drugs like marijuana and even ecstasy or a range of hallucinogenics are used, some by people who I feel very close to. The struggle I put up was very much within myself: being Straight Edge you run the risk of feeling superior to others. I admit, that it does make me feel superior: I can have fun without drugs. I can enjoy myself, be happy, go to parties and have fun without needing the assistance of alcohol or other substances. Therefore, people who need them, have a weakness. This was hard to contain, especially since I have a few friends who are very much involved with some of the harder drugs. Nevertheless, I eventually managed to somewhat settle on keeping my inner self at a distance from them. Keeping it superficial was necessary to maintain these friendships. They still know what I think about their “adventures”, but I don’t shove it in their faces, and they also try not to shove their business into mine.
Being Straight Edge is a personal choice. It is not a club you can join, it is something you have to believe in for yourself. I can honestly say that it has made me a stronger and more confident person. I have become a more disciplined, healthy and confident person. I have managed to commit to things fully, I feel that being Straight Edge is also one of the strengths that has helped me maintain the relationship I am in for over a year and four months. What the future holds, I don’t know. Straight Edge is meant to be a commitment for life, but I disagree with saying that anything will last forever. The continuity of being Straight Edge will make for a full hub later on.