I’ve always loved coffee, I could never go without it.
I’ve always had curves.
I need an hour of calm to wake up in the morning.
I never wear black.
I never go to a restaurant alone.
I’ve always hated exercising.
I can’t live without chocolate.
All of that is true. Or actually, it was true. Those were things I said to myself a lot, and for such a long time, that it became my reality. Then one day, I stopped drinking coffee.
It seems like nothing, but it was super difficult. A lot harder than I imagined. See, it was like drinking coffee was part of my identity. Like a lot of people, I was convinced I couldn’t start my day without coffee. I loved everything about it. The smell, the taste, the feeling, and above all—the ritual. The idea that I was taking a break. The idea of carrying this warm drink in my hand. Opening a new bag of coffee beans and sticking my nose in it. I loved it. Everyone knew that about me and accepted it—even Chris would be ok driving for fifteen minutes in the morning to get coffee for me.
Then one day, I decided to stop. I had been living with a kind of chronic nervousness and it was starting to weigh me down—I was used to coping with it, but I started to wonder if coffee might be part of the reason, and how I’d feel without caffeine. My energy was crashing a lot. Would quitting coffee help me regulate that ?
It was a lot harder than I thought. I started by switching to black tea so I could still have that boost to start my day. I’m lucky, I love tea. After a week, making tea in the morning felt pretty natural, even though I had a few slip-ups like “okay, this morning I’m going to treat myself and have a coffee!” – when people offered me coffee, I had a hard time saying no. No seriously, I really could not do it.
The coffee habit was so imprinted on my mind that I couldn’t really think of many alternatives like:
“No thanks, I’ll have a green tea!”
“No, nothing for me, thanks!” or
“No, but a sparkling water would be great”
(I don’t drink other drinks like sodas or juice, that’s never really been my thing. One more reason why coffee had such a huge place in my life…And wine of course! Wine!)
But what I missed most was the feeling of comfort I’d associated with the idea of the coffee break. So hard! For at least three weeks, I kept ordering coffee, and at first I’d only take a few sips, and by the end, I would just hold it in my hands, smell it, and that was enough. The one day I completely stopped.
That whole process took me three months. Today, I’ve pretty much kicked the habit. There are still times when I miss coffee! Just talking to you about it makes me miss it.
But a weird thing happened—I lost my taste for coffee. It’s like the taste of coffee changed and I didn’t find it as appealing as before. Like an ex that makes you wonder: “What in the world made me so crazy about him!?” The ritual, the kitchen filled with the smell of coffee brewing in the morning—that’s what I miss. But coffee itself, not so much.
And to answer my initial question: yes, I do feel better, a lot less nervous. It’s almost like I discovered a new me.
Without coffee, as I feared, I’m not the same person. I’m more chill.
The reason I’m telling you all this is because this experience, this little detail, totally changed my perspective on my life. I was always extremely attached to my rituals and my tastes. It’s not even that I was attached to them, for me, it was seriously like those things were who I was. And taking them away or changing them was like taking away a part of myself.
But even so, I’ve slowly started to make changes over the past few months; questioning the things I’m attached to, what they add to my life and what they take away. That goes for both my physical habits and my emotional ones.
What effect would it have if I decided to start really loving exercise? What effect would it have if I let my fears slip away and I adopted a dog? What effect would it have if I stopped looking at New York as the only city in the world where I could live? What effect would it have if I tried not living in a state of permanent guilt about everything? (Much easier said than done, but just thinking about it totally changes your perspective on yourself)
There, I was finally able to realize how fluid my personality really is, and that it’s much deeper than the little habits I was attached to. I started to see that in life, we change, we evolve, we mature… Or even get younger and crazier. We change our minds. What worked before might not work anymore. Values that were of utmost importance for us in the past might slowly lose their power.
And even though change is scary, resisting it can sometimes do more harm than good.
Some things are eternal, but certainly not everything.
And we have the right to change. It’s a lot easier when we let go of the preconceived ideas we have about ourselves, or worse—the ideas other people have about us.
I started with a tiny little detail—quitting coffee, and I ended up realizing that tomorrow, I could be a completely different version of myself. It gave me wings, an incredible freedom, and a much nicer, more flexible relationship with the people and things in my life. You just have to take your time negotiating with these attachments and be realistic – if it took me three months to quit coffee, how long is the rest going to take!?
But I imagine it’s a kind of gymnastics, and the more open you are to change, the easier it gets.
Oh by the way, at the moment, I feel like completely changing my style. What about you, what do you want to change?
Translated by Andrea Perdue