Lauren Alice Ink | Open Letter to Coffee in Regards to My Mental State
Dear Coffee, For years, you have defined the performance ability in the human race. “Drink the coffee” is to “do the things” as “turn the key” is to “start the car.” Now, you are more prevalent than ever. You are the basis for most social events. You are the first thought at the beginning of the day. You are the catalyst for capability. But, sometimes, you are my downfall.
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Open Letter to Coffee in Regards to My Mental State

Dear Coffee,

For years, you have defined the performance ability in the human race. “Drink the coffee” is to “do the things” as “turn the key” is to “start the car.” Now, you are more prevalent than ever. You are the basis for most social events. You are the first thought at the beginning of the day. You are the catalyst for capability.

But, sometimes, you are my downfall.

You are the push that sends me spiraling into the abyss of anxiety. You turn normal days into hours of high alert and stress. You leave traces of your impact stained on any given aspect of my life.

Not that I blame my aunt, but it’s her fault for introducing me to you.

I wish I could quit you. I wish I could wake up one day and think, You know what? Today, I don’t need a venti iced coffee with hazelnut and extra cream before my nine hour shift. I don’t need a King Julien Madagascar latte while I finish this essay. And I definitely don’t need a vanilla caramel cold brew on this hour-long drive.

This society in which I exist is one of constant motion. Do this, remember that, and keep moving forward. As I type this open letter, the weight of two writing projects, one quiz, and countless reading assignments weighs down on me. I also anticipate another closing shift at work and even an orientation for a second job. And who knows when I’ll be able to fit any form of a social life in there. Your aroma wafts through the culture, promises the caffeinated fuel required to balance a busy life, and advertises easier and efficient living in this fast-paced world.

For me, caffeine just makes things faster—not a good fast, but a stressful, anxious, and suffocating fast. My eyes do not stop. Everything has the potential to become a problem. Noise is constant and deafening. My heart races, and my body feels like this is the end. I have an existential crisis, rethink all my life choices, and swear you off for the rest of my days.

But then, everything is okay again. Life returns to a steady speed. I can breathe regular breaths. I wonder, Was it all in my head?

I’ve tried switching to decaf, but as an avid and passionate, albeit unfortunate, coffee connoisseur, I cannot make this habit stick. Real, caffeinated, dangerous coffee just tastes better. I’ve tried balancing water and coffee intake. I’ve tried balancing solid food and coffee intake. Sometimes, it helps. Other times, I’m back in my spiral.

You put me back in my spiral.

Not only do you correlate with capability, but also with sociality. It’s easy to say, “Hey, we should get coffee sometime.” It’s harder to say, “I’m hypersensitive to caffeine and therefore must limit my coffee intake, but I know you like coffee and can drink it like a normal person, so I’ll let my guard down and tap into the treacherous substance for the sake of hanging out with you.”

Why do I, as a human, love that which can hurt me?

I love your rich flavors. I love the awakening smell of freshly roasted coffee beans. I love the happiness that flows straight to the soul in that first sip.

Was it something I did? Did I insult you way back in my youth to provoke you to turn against me? Sure, I used to brew you with a Keurig, but I’m past that phase. Now I brew you in a French press. Surely your pretentious nature revels in this high quality of treatment. I’m learning how to properly steam milk to make you into the most beautiful lattes Instagram has ever seen. Okay, so I scorched the milk the first time, but give me a break.

Maybe we need a break.

But we’ve tried this. I’ve gone a few weeks—months even, back in my sophomore year—without you. I was fine. I still got anxious, but I didn’t let you send me to that spiral.

But we’ve also had good times. Remember when my best friend brought you to me during a stressful shift at work? Or when that boy I had a stupid crush on bought you for me before he and I started dating? Or when you give me an excuse to spend quality time with my siblings? Those times were refreshing, and I didn’t spiral.

Maybe my struggle is not with you, coffee, but with my anxiety.

At any rate, I have a chapter to finish reading. The quiz is due tomorrow. Maybe you can help me get there.

Sincerely,

Lauren

Lauren Alice
laurenaliceink@gmail.com

Lauren is a writer and editor and has a Bachelor’s in English with a focus on creative writing from the University of Central Florida. Science fiction is her passion and she believes coffee is better with cream.

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