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Self-determined or Destructive? A Hot Take on Why College Students Drink so much Coffee

Being a twenty-something college student can be pretty dreadful. 

You don’t really know where you’re going in life, what job you want, or even if you’re going to graduate. You don’t know how you did on your last exam and, because you didn’t go grocery shopping this week, you don’t know if you’ll be having dinner either. 

Your car has been making a weird noise for a long time, but you’re waiting for it to fully fall apart before you fix it. You’ve binge watched Euphoria all day and now you’re wondering how bleak your life must be for you to miss high school. There’s a chance you’re either underweight or overweight, but regardless you probably don’t eat enough vegetables or drink enough water. You have just enough money in your checking account to survive this week and your rent is due tomorrow. 

Somehow, just when things can’t seem to get any more unsettling, you decide to walk over to Starbucks and spend $5 on a coffee with zero regrets. 

The bitter taste of caffeine mixed with sugar flows into your mouth, down your throat, and waits to be absorbed into your bloodstream. Your parched organs and malnourished body breathe a sigh of relief as the hot liquid, which will soon make you feel so much worse, enters your body yet again. Why do you do it? Is it the taste? Get over yourself, you eat ramen noodles and cheerios on the reg, you aren’t Emeril. 

Is it the release of serotonin and dopamine that allows you the first molecule of hope you’ve had in weeks? Uh, obviously. You don’t care about the crippling anxiety that comes 45 minutes to an hour after your second espresso shot because A) you’re addicted, B) you don’t have enough money for breakfast so you’re telling yourself this is less calories and C) you need to wake up and get shit done!  You are now sweating, shaking, and your heart is about to beat out of your chest, but at least you’re awake and working. All due to the miracle drug college students know and love: COFFEE. 

Coffee is a trip. Drink a little and put some pep in your step. Down a few shots of espresso and you achieve an adderall-like high. This can lead to one of two things. You either accomplish something great, or you end up violently breathing in the lavender from your oil diffuser while lying in the fetal position on your bathroom floor. 

If you think there’s a difference between adderall and copious amounts of coffee, you kid yourself; one of them is just more socially acceptable. Of course, not everyone has such extreme reactions; everyone has different tolerance and anxiety levels. 

However, generally speaking, drinking coffee does come with some negative side effects, ones that are particularly common in young college students who are already experiencing high stress levels. Why not just drink decaf, right? That’s cute, but if we all had time for meditation and exercise and doing healthy things like drinking decaf, we probably wouldn’t be in college. 

How can we plan for our futures knowing we’re these self-destructive, messy, anxious, young adults living in a catastrophic world which is waiting to be saved? I guess we could just look to our elders and great leaders in power, right? *que laughter* 

The good thing is, despite our anxieties and bad habits, we are a generation of resilient survivalists. We will drink our coffee, we will suffer through our anxiety, and we will continue to show up and work through the madness, because madness is all we know. 

If coffee can get you through the day, or just makes it worse – which only proves you are a dedicated warrior – then DRINK IT and don’t feel bad about it. Just make sure you don’t get a straw. Your giant plastic cup, on the other hand, is nothing to worry about. 

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