If I could go back in time and give my naive, fresh-faced 18-year-old self some advice, it would be this: Do not start drinking coffee. Just. Don’t. Do. It.
Before college, drinking coffee is something cute you do on weekends with your friends. You go to a cozy coffee shop or cafe and order a latte. Preferably with almond milk.
The warm drink comes in a cute yellow mug with delicate latte art gracing its frothy top. It’s 11 a.m., you can see the ocean out the window and everything is right in the world. The caffeine fuels you for a day of running around with your high school friends.
Coffee in college is, well, a completely different experience. Gone are the days of cozy cafes and drinks with complex flavors. Now, you wake up with a caffeine headache.
You’re groggy and can’t even form a coherent sentence until you stumble into the seemingly mile-long line at the campus Starbucks and order an iced almond milk latte that, frankly, tastes like someone burned each coffee bean for the express purpose of making you miserable.
Your days are filled with caffeine jitters and panic sets in when you realize that you need another cup to keep you going for the next few hours. On a few select occasions, coffee will be the only thing you consume during the day. You will bounce off the walls at 3 a.m., despite the existential dread that comes with knowing that you have to get up in three hours.
Caffeine has become somewhat of an acceptable addiction. It’s a vice you’re allowed to have as an adult, while other drugs and alcohol are stigmatized. “Don’t talk to me before I’ve had my coffee,” we joke. It also drives the dangerous “busy culture” many millennials and Gen Zers partake in, with a workaholic lifestyle being seen as the pinnacle of success.
But despite all that, sometimes coffee will bring good to your life. It’ll fuel you to write a 10-page paper in four hours that ends up getting you an A and praise from your professor. It becomes an excuse to hang out with your friends at random times. (If you search “Wanna get coffee?” in my text messages, you’ll probably get hundreds of results.) Coffee will be your consistent companion for long road trips, late-night adventures and mornings spent reading The New York Times. And sometimes, you might even get to drink it out of a yellow mug at a cute cafe with your best friends.
On second thought, maybe I spoke in haste about the whole “don’t start drinking coffee” thing. Just don’t let the addiction get too intense – and stay away from extra shots of espresso.