Chronicles Of The Sober Raver: Part 1
When you first read this caption you may have thought “Huh?? A sober raver?” and honestly I would not be surprised if you did. The words “sober” and “raver” is not exactly a group of words you hear paired together often. Some may even believe that a “sober raver” is non-existent. A mythical creature. A unicorn. Actually, scratch that, some people actually DO believe that there are no sober ravers in this world. Period. It is quite natural for people to assume that most people in the EDM community are not sober. Many most likely assume that everyone in the EDM community takes substances and requires substances to attend these events: “Everyone takes drugs at music festivals”, “You cannot rave without substances”, “There is no way you can be sober at a music festival with all of those drugs around”, “No one goes to fests sober”. Well, my dearest friends, allow me to blow your minds.
My name is Chelsie Cahoon. I am a small-town girl from Clifton Forge, Virginia who currently resides in our capital of Richmond, Virginia. I love God, my family/pets, my friends, music, adventuring, spaghetti, playing piano, sweet tea, spreading love, dancing, and making people laugh. Oh.. and I am a sober raver. I have actually branded myself in the music community as THE Sober Raver and have been using the term for over a year and a half now. No, I am not a mythical creature or a unicorn. I am a human being just like yourself which means, I too, am perfectly imperfect.
“My favorite kind of high is a natural high”
To start this off, I will tell you a fun fact: I have been sober my entire life. Yep! I am 26 years old and can honestly say that I have never drunk alcohol, smoked, or taken any recreational drugs in my life. The most I have ever done is take a sip of a few different drinks (not even a gulp) when I was a teenager just to see what it tasted like. I spit it out immediately. Most assume that I do not drink or partake in other substances because of either A. Something that has happened in my family or B. The taste. Neither is correct. In fact, the pure truth of the matter is that I simply have never wanted to put myself in any other state of mind than what I am already in. My favorite kind of high is a natural high. I have an insane amount of fun without anything extra. I have never wanted to alter who I am in any way; mind, body, or spirit. I have never in my life been interested in taking any substances whatsoever and to some that is simply bewildering. I assure you, though, it is 100% real.
I knew from a very young age that I wanted to live a lifestyle of sobriety. Remember D.A.R.E? That program that most of us went through as children that taught us to say no to drugs? I will be honest. I did not think about it until last year but I believe that going through that program and winning an essay in regards to saying no to drugs and alcohol and having to read it to the fifth-grade class did impact my decision to live a sober lifestyle. Some believe that D.A.R.E. made them want to rebel and start taking substances instead but it was the opposite for me. Choosing my lifestyle was a mixture of D.A.R.E., having amazing parents who raised me with lots of love and care, and simply me not wanting to be a part of the drug culture. Simply Chelsie wanting to stay organically Chelsie with no chemicals added.. unless it was My Chemical Romance.
Back to what I was saying though, this continued all throughout my entire school career. I remember being offered my first drink in high school and turning it down. Doing this felt empowering and I knew at that moment that this was what my life would look like forever. I had a boyfriend at the time who was also sober which was actually really cool but we differed in how we felt about others drinking. I never in my life have judged anyone for drinking and wanted to always carry that trait with me. I never wanted to be seen as a girl who judged others for their lifestyle choices even if I did not always agree with them. My boyfriend and I ended up splitting and I entered an entirely new chapter in my life by transferring from my community college to Radford University to get my fashion merchandising degree.
As some may know, although this is a wonderful university, it is also a party school. People cannot believe that I went through five years of college, especially at Radford, completely sober but it is true. It happened. I went to fraternity parties, bars, clubs and had the absolute time of my life dancing the nights away with my best friends who loved me for me. I would go to these places and each time would get to share my story with someone. Most of the time it was guys trying to buy me drinks or guys trying to dance up on me. I not only had fun with my friends but also educated people on how you can party sober. In college, I realized how truly different I was from society and one day stumbled across a sober brand on Instagram. I had never really embraced my lifestyle publicly but decided I no longer wanted to hide who I truly was. I ordered a shirt, took a picture in it, and made my first post about being sober on Facebook. This was the beautiful beginning of who I truly was and I wanted the world to know.
The Sober Raver is Born…
Music is my absolute passion next to Jesus and my family. It is what keeps me going. It is my heart and soul. It is my everything. If you attend live music events there is a chance you may have seen me dancing my heart out with my long hair flying every which way. You may wonder “How did you come up with the name The Sober Raver?” Earlier in the summer of 2017, I was walking alone through Firefly Music Festival. I tend to always go with a group of people but always, at some point, end up venturing off on my own and get lost in the bliss of everything around me. It is very therapeutic for me and allows me to feel very free and independent.
“It hit me like a crowd surfer in a mosh pit”
While walking through the beautiful woodlands, a guy walked up to me and said he had seen me walking around today and proceeded to ask “Are you tripping?” A little surprised I politely told him “No I am not actually. I am a sober raver”. Startled and confused with the most puzzling look on his face he then walked off. I sat down at a picnic table near one of the vendors and thought about the interaction I had just experienced. “Hmm.. people really do think that even though I am sober I am still on drugs? The term ‘sober raver’ I used was pretty cool though. I really like that. Wait.. that could be something. Oh my gosh”. Right then, it hit me like a crowd surfer in a mosh pit: I am The Sober Raver.
Immediately, I changed my lifelong Instagram name of “chelsmae07” to “TheSoberRaver” and ever since that day this has been one of the most important parts of my life. I ended up crafting this shirt right before Imagine Music Festival and wore it the second day of the festival. I will not lie, I was absolutely terrified. Who else wears a shirt saying anything about sobriety to a music fest? It felt as if it were me against society even more so than I normally felt. It did not have to feel that way though. I wanted what I was doing to represent no judgment or looking down upon others but rather me owning who I am and not being ashamed of my sober lifestyle. Most importantly, I wanted to be a light for people who may be struggling or may feel alone. I wanted people to see me and a glimmer of hope sparkle in their eye. I wanted to spread love and inspiration.. and that is just what I did.
It was truly amazing how people came up to me and graced me with their positive words. Some simply said what I was doing was “awesome”, “inspiring”, and “incredible”, others asked me about my lifestyle, and some even came up to me and shared their stories with me. I had heart to heart conversations with strangers discussing some of the most personal things one can go through and it was simply astonishing. My heart was overflowing with love and I was just so thankful that I had decided to go through with my shirt idea because it allowed me to meet so many beautiful people. This experience left a permanent tattoo on my heart and it affected me in the most incredible way. I knew after this festival that I had a calling. I had a desire. I had a purpose. I had a mission. I was on fire for this and I was not going to let it slip through my hands. I had to do something.
“I could feel the fire in my heart burning”
I had been a part of a few sober organizations prior to this experience and they definitely helped me become confident in my sobriety but they were not what I embodied and that was being judgment-free. Judging no one for what they do but instead loving them for who they are and inspiring them in any way possible. This was going to happen one way or the other. Now, it was up to me to put all of this passion that I had swirling in my heart for people into something that was all my own. 100% from my heart without the toxicity from past ventures. I was beyond stoked for this. I could feel the fire in my heart burning and knew that God had put this here for a reason. There was no more questioning what I had always wanted to do. It was time.
(to be continued)