I have a confession to make: I’m currently in a committed relationship with coffee. You have to understand – I don’t say this just to be funny. I really, honestly, love coffee. I love its acrid taste, the way it scalds my tongue and burns its way down my throat, how my heart races and hands jitter after I down a cup. It makes me feel alive, has made me feel that way from the first sip. And so, like all rational beings desperate to create something for themselves (or perhaps not), I took that feeling and ran. I tried to make coffee a part of who I was – and maybe, that’s where all of my problems began.
I came to Andover as a coffee enthusiast. Not only that, but I had already fashioned myself into a coffee-lover, had so woven it into my character that I was already known as “that awkward coffee girl.” So I dealt with being a new student in the most familiar way I could: Coffee. I drank it when I was stressed and nervous, downed it when I was unsure and lonely. Never once did I stop to question why.
My coffee-drinking habits didn’t change much Lower year. I needed it, I told myself, because I was afraid of losing the feeling it gave me. I wanted my hands to shake and my chest to feel tight; I wanted to feel how incessantly my heart could thrum and hear the blood rush by my ears. In those moments, I drank coffee desperately, not because I wanted it, but because I had convinced myself that I needed it.
Upper year, my friends began a campaign to cut down on my coffee consumption, insisting that five cups a day “simply wasn’t healthy.” I, of course, refused to change. I laughed off their concern, because “I didn’t have a problem” (or so I insisted). I resisted them at every turn, though I couldn’t quite bring myself to explain why: How could I tell them that I was terrified of losing the feeling it gave me?
I suppose I had always known, reluctantly and in some dusty recess of my mind, that my relationship with coffee was unhealthy. But I had never taken a moment to think, to ask myself just “why” it was so bad. In the end, it all came down to this: I felt boring, was so very unsure of myself, and coffee made me feel alive. It made me feel like I could do anything. I had dangerously and unknowingly created a part of myself that I let define me, and I clung onto that, if only because I was too afraid to be myself.
It’s taken patience, time, and a lot of effort and uncomfortable scrutiny on my part to examine my relationship with coffee. And, like all relationships, it’s a work-in-progress – it hasn’t always been easy to reflect upon and understand my actions, or to communicate truthfully with myself, and some days, I still struggle. But I’ve finally gotten to a point where I feel comfortable with who I am, with coffee, and who I am without it. And despite the rollercoaster of a ride it took to get here, it was worth it.