If you like coffee with your oxygen…
Letter to the Editor | Monday, April 24, 2017
Now don’t get me wrong — I know that coffee is life-giving. It has the incredible ability to pick you up from your crumpled, sleep-deprived state and transform you into an alert, ambitious pupil. It allows you to adopt godlike powers at 4am as you study straight through the night and ace that exam. With your coffee in hand, you’re a sophisticated scholar, an eloquent speaker, a sharp mathematician. You recognize patterns, make connections, all the while not snapping at the person who just ran into you. It allows you to be the best and brightest among your groggy classmates who weren’t smart enough to down a cup before your 8am — or so you may think.
So if I were to suggest you give up coffee — just for a few weeks — to mitigate your addiction, you’d probably scoff at me, right? I don’t blame you. That’s what I used to do too. Coffee makes you a better person, so why not drink it?
But how do you know when you’ve gone too far? Is it when withdrawal headaches render you incapable of completing basic tasks? Or is it when your bank account cries for relief?
For me, it took a bunch of people at 11 p.m. on Fat Tuesday laughing about how I could never give up coffee for Lent. Being the competitive person I am, paired with my love of proving people wrong (who doesn’t?), I decided to quit cold turkey. I was going to immediately transition from my average three to four cups a day to zero.
I’m not going to lie — the first week was ridiculously hard. Day one, I slept through my 8:20, fell asleep amidst an intense basketball game, and had somehow adopted some type of caffeine-deprived, I’m-not-taking-your-nonsense alter ego. I remember walking past Starbucks with tears in my eyes knowing that I couldn’t go ask for that incredible cold brewed coffee with an extra shot of espresso in it. My migraines rivaled those from when I had a concussion, and there was nothing I desired more than to feel that coffee coursing through my veins. I missed the smell, the taste, the comfort.
These ridiculously over-dramatic side effects I was facing forced me to reflect upon what type of life I had truly been leading before. What I had previously believed was a typical respect for the power of coffee had developed into an unhealthy, codependent relationship. When I looked back upon those particularly hectic weeks — those where I was a complete slave to my Keurig — I realized how truly lifeless I was. I was a robot —one that only functioned when powered with caffeine.
The truth of the matter is, coffee is a drug. A morning cup of joe is a perfectly healthy drink to have in your daily routine, as long as you’re not consistently consuming three or four times that amount. Even though experts have touted its health benefits, that’s when it’s used in moderation. And unfortunately on college campuses, little is done in moderation.
Yet I have little room to lecture on this topic: I still put off more work than I should, and I still stay up way too late. And yes, it’s a rarity when I get those elusive eight hours of sleep. Yet I’m miles closer than I used to be.
So what have I learned during my forty-day journey sans coffee? To start, I enjoy actually waking up when my eyes open in the morning, as opposed to after some caffeine is in my system. I enjoy (mostly) being able to resist the magnetic pull Starbucks used to have over me. Heck, I even enjoy not having to worry about coffee breath.
Most of all, I like being able to hold a coffee in my hands without it having a hold on me.
Now that Lent is over, I’ve started incorporating some coffee back into my routine. The occasional cup in the morning when I’m especially dragging, or if I’m in a crunch and need to stay up late, I know I’ll reach for some. But as for me, it can’t be a crutch anymore. Life is too beautiful without it.
So next time you reach for that triple-shot drink at midnight, think about what you’re doing to your body. You need sleep. You deserve sleep. You can function without coffee.
The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.