Monday, December 16, 2013

My Life, My Pledge, Robbie Betchley

My Life, My Pledge

Robbie Betchley

Ever since a kid, my mom had always told me how curious I was.  I always had something I shouldn’t have had and I always was somewhere I shouldn’t have been. Even in kindergarten I remember sneaking off during naptime and exploring under the teacher’s desk, behind the shelves and all the other unknown areas of the classroom a normal kid wouldn’t even think to go. From a little boy, through high school and into my freshman year of college today, this curiosity has stuck with me. Sometimes my curiosity has gotten me in trouble, but without this trait, I would never have come across the straight edge lifestyle, changing my life forever.

Straight edge is a movement that began in the 1970’s in which an individual makes a lifelong decision not to do drugs, alcohol, or have promiscuous sex (Nelson, 2011).  There are many types of straight edge now like vegan straight edge: one that follows the normal rules but on top of that does not eat meat. Others include not drinking caffeine, as well as many other forms that expand off the normal guidelines. Straight edge is represented by many symbols, but the main two are the single “X” and the triple “XXX.”

The movement started around the 1970’s but really expanded when a band called Minor Threat released a song called “Straight Edge” in the 1980’s helping the movement spread worldwide inspiring other bands to claim straight edge. Around the 1990’s straight edge, in many different areas, was looked at as a gang. In many of these areas it actually did turn to a gang (Nelson, 2011). Straight edge kids would go out and find kids smoking or drinking and beat them, in worse cases, to death. These so called “Hard liners” put a very wrong image on straight edge. You can even watch Nation Geographic’s episode of Gangland focused entirely on F.S.U., which has been said to relate to modern day straight edge. Today straight edge is no gang, but only a lifestyle lived by many kids and adults who have made the decision not to drink, smoke tobacco, and do drugs. When you make this decision, you are said to have claimed edge. It is most frequently found in the hardcore scene of music but can be found all the way from normal family dads, to hip hop artist such as Tyler the Creator. It is not something everybody has heard of, not to mention claim. I first heard about straight edge through, which is now my best friend, Taylor Novak. Small talk about the subject turned to big talk and eventually led to me claiming edge. Taylor surprisingly didn’t want me to claim edge thinking I was going to sell out but I’m proud to say I proved him wrong on that. Making the choice to live a sober life and claiming edge are two completely different things. Not only did I choose to be sober, I chose more than that, I chose to be straight edge.

It’s not only a life long decision, but it is also a life style. I made the decision to claim edge the summer between my sophomore year and junior year of high school. Claiming straight edge simply means this, I don’t drink, I don’t smoke tobacco products, and I don’t do drugs. I didn’t go sign a contract to hold up and show society to prove I’m better than any of my peers or a rule follower or anything like that. I just put my foot down, and made a pledge to myself that I would stick through with this decision the rest of my life.

I’ve been picked on, made fun of, and tormented. People that barely know me tell me I’m scared to smoke weed or I’m scared to drink a beer. All of the peer pressure and antics just makes me laugh. Its comical knowing there is people out there that care about another’s decisions so much that they have no time of their own to think about their life and their decisions. Truthfully, any one that has met me would probably tell you that I am the biggest idiot when it comes to hurting my body and being “safe.” Every party that I go to it never fails that someone will come up to me and say something about how crazy drunk I am but in reality its just me, completely sober, having fun.

Although claiming edge has put a lot of hatred on my self, I have also been very surprised with the amount of compliments and respect I get. Most of the time it comes from the biggest potheads or alcoholics around too. I’ve had many hour-long conversations with drunk people about how much they respect me being edge, and they wish they could do it. Sure it may just be some drunk guy rambling but it means a lot to know that people respect my decision. Straight edge has done so many things in my life for the better and I can’t thank my best friend Taylor Novak enough for introducing me to the lifestyle.

I am now a freshman in college, what some people say is the hardest time to say “No” when it comes to being peer pressured, and I am still saying “No.” Not because it’s cool, not because it’s right, but simply because I want to. It was definitely a struggle at first turning my head to alcohol and other things that were being pushed in my faced when I first claimed edge when I was younger. But now there is never even a second thought. Most of the time I’m not even offered things any more because people know that I am edge, and if they don’t know I am edge, then they know I don’t drink or smoke. Sure people judge me and are quick to turn their shoulder thinking I’m not big on partying or having fun. But that’s only for a short time. Once they see me jumping off the roof into a pool, half naked, looking like the biggest drunk at the party. Most come to realize that, other than the fact I’m chugging Red Bulls instead of Bud Light, I’m just as crazy and fun.

I have never had anything against drinking, smoking marijuana, or tobacco. I just don’t do it. Just because one drinks or smokes doesn’t mean that I believe that I am better than them. It just means they do that stuff and I don’t. The thing that bothers me is when people drink or smoke to be cool. I wish more people understood that it’s okay to be different and its possible to have fun without drinking and smoking. If one drinks because they love it, then that’s their decision and I respect that. But if you do it just to be cool, your stupid and I want to punch you in the face. Recent studies have shown that more people drink then not whether under age or legal. Knowing that I am in the minority I find it a challenge to continue with my decision and I love it.

I have always enjoyed challenging myself when it comes to the decisions I make. Claiming straight edge is just another decision I have made in order to challenge myself. The judgment comes hand and hand with the lifestyle, and to be honest, I love that too. I have always liked being an outcast and dealing with the controversy it comes with.

Straight edge has impacted my life so strongly in a positive manner. Not only has it kept me out of trouble, well somewhat, but it has also helped me realize how much of an effect judgment towards others can effect peoples lives. If I weren’t such a carefree person I would probably be in a corner cutting my wrist from the amount of hate people show towards a simple decision. It takes a lot to actually live your whole life being yourself in such a judgmental society like ours, but it isn’t impossible, I promise. Whether it has to do with anything: politics, dreams, marijuana, drinking, fighting, school, etc. As long as you put your foot down and stand for it, I respect you and your decisions. Stay true and stand for what you believe. This is my life. This is my pledge.


Nelson, K.N. (2011, September 2). The history of straight edge. Retrieved from

Wojoo5. (2012, September 20). Gangland rage against society F.S.U gang [Youtube]. Retrieved from

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