Credit: Columbia Pictures

I grew up in a really liberal household where it was okay to “experiment.” If we were curious about certain things, we talked about them openly and were encouraged to try them, as long as we were at home. Instead of this making me feel liberated, it made me feel like the black sheep. I decided very young that I wasn’t interested in “sex, drugs, and rock & roll,” the classic symbols of teen rebellion. When I was younger, it didn’t immediately feel like rebellion when I went the straight edge route. Looking back as an adult though, it’s now one of the pivotal moments in my life when I decided to go against the norm.

Growing up, I had trouble connecting with people my age, so it was easier to just be a loner. Although I had friends, I didn’t have that many people I hung out with regularly. I felt like an outsider since I didn’t like a lot of normal teen things, so I ended up spending a lot of time by myself.

By middle school, it was getting harder and harder to find people that liked the same things I liked. Board games and ice cream parties weren’t a popular activity anymore. My childhood friends and I would do simple things like go get pizza and dessert, or giggle around the cute boys at the grocery store, while my friends at school had moved into more adult activities.

Once we hit driving age, there was a shift. Most of my friends were interested in growing up as soon as they could, and I was staying the same. People started throwing parties, and drinking was considered the new normal. Dating and drinking was what we “should” be doing, and I just wasn’t interested in that. I started to feel like even more of an outsider than I already was.

Once I was in college, almost everyone I knew drank and did drugs to cut out the noise in their heads. Since I didn’t want to participate in those vices, I turned to pizza, arts and crafts, and movies. Eventually, my favorite escape became books.

One time, a girl from school brought beer over to my house and tried to pin it on me. My parents knew I didn’t drink, and were never fond of that friend coming over again. Not because she brought beer to my house, but because she lied about it being my idea.

I never felt like I truly met people with my same morals and interests until I was 21. My roommate at the time kept inviting me to pizza parties. This gathering ended up being all the interns at a local college ministry, and I finally met people who liked things I liked.

Thankfully, you’re given more room to make choices in your late 20s, and people don’t judge you as much based on what your choices are and why you make them. I’m not mocked for not drinking or partying anymore, though I do still get asked about it every now and then. There’s always someone who wants me to try a drink that they think will change my mind, as if it were just a matter of taste.

Nowadays, I’m super happy with all my decisions. I’m glad I did what I wanted for myself, and stuck true to my instincts even when people didn’t understand. Plus, I save a ton of money on alcohol now when I go out for dinner with my husband.