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Embracing Straight Edge: Navigating Friendships and Finding a New Social Path

I knew getting sober would change my life, but I didn’t know my friends would act like it changed theirs, too.

Challenges in Maintaining Friendships

The longer I’ve been a part of the Straight Edge lifestyle, the more confident I’ve become. Back in the beginning when my friends would want to go out for a drink, I’d come up with an excuse because I was afraid of what they’d think. I didn’t want them to think I felt like I was better than them for their decision. I didn’t want to lose them as friends.

A New Social Path

Social life is a strange thing. When you quit doing what modern youngins consider their social life, what are you supposed to do for fun? Are you just a prude?

These people I called friends suddenly acted like they didn’t know what to do with me. “Hey K, you wanna go out this weekend? Oh right, you don’t drink. Nevermind.” It used to get to me, like wtf y’all. I promise I’m the same goofy smartass as before, but whatever. I stopped putting my energy into these people and trying to prove to them that we could still have a good time without the booze and drugs. At one point they asked what they should order for me when we grab dinner and I run to the bathroom or come late, and that was some sort of endpoint for me with them. (When in doubt, water works just fine, friends.) John Mulaney has a bit where he talks about when he got sober his friends were the same way, never knowing what to offer. “Hey Mulaney! Here’s an old turnip we found in the cabinet, would that be good for you? My girlfriend’s NuvaRing is in the fridge, would that be good for you? I KNOW YOU DON’T DRINK!” Relatable.

I came to realize my so-called friends didn’t want to have fun without alcohol because that’s all they know. They also didn’t want to know anything else. They were having fun spending unending amounts on whatever to get them wrecked every weekend. Nowadays I have a few local friends that identify as Straight Edge and a lot of friends who are older and over the substance lifestyle. Having these people helped me become more confident in saying, “No thanks, I don’t drink,” instead of making up an excuse. Most people you casually encounter don’t give a shit. People in your life who you want to keep around will support you even if they don’t live the same lifestyle. One of my lifelong friends goes to one of the biggest party schools in the country. Even when I visit her, she makes sure we do things that I’m cool with. She respects this life and doesn’t want to risk putting me in a compromising situation.

Finding a New Crew and Embracing Your Lifestyle

So how do you get past the feeling of losing friends and becoming a social outcast? Find a new crew, whatever that looks like for you. I reconnected with an old coworker who wasn’t Straight Edge but enjoyed hardcore music, and we dove into the local music scene together. I started doing things, like photography, that I enjoy again. I had given these things up because I “didn’t have time,” but it was really a priority shift. Teach yourself something new you’ve always thought about. Take up art classes or a workout routine. By no means am I saying abandon your friends, but don’t feel obligated to stay around the ones who aren’t supporting your growth and lifestyle. Find you and do that unapologetically. Stay rad, Sisterhood.

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