I’m a person who values routine, and part of that routine is my morning cup of coffee. I can’t wait to grab a cup of dark roast every day to accompany my yogurt bowl at Frary. I like how it warms me up after trekking from Wig Hall to North Campus in the chilly morning air. I even enjoy its bitter taste. However, I’ve slowly noticed my coffee consumption increasing and taking on a purpose other than pure enjoyment. Coffee has slowly become liquid fuel for me, enabling my already workaholic self to continue this cycle of working without resting.
When I first started drinking coffee, it was for pure enjoyment. As crazy as it sounds, when I was in high school, my dad and I would each have a cup of black coffee to “unwind” in the evenings while we watched a show. I also discovered that no matter how late I drank coffee, I would still be able to sleep once my head touched the pillow, but if I wanted to stay up to do work and avoided my bed, the caffeine would keep me up, too. Most of the time, though, my high school coffee consumption came from a place of simply liking coffee and wanting to partake in something with my dad.
Here, I’ve found that, while I still like coffee, I’ve grown to like it more for the caffeine boost it gives me. When I find myself yawning and haven’t gotten as far as I wanted to on a paper, I rush to Frary, chug the coffee, and then continue working. When I want to study for a certain amount of hours for a midterm, but my schedule doesn’t give me that time, I use coffee to artificially give me more study time.
I realized that while coffee can mask tiredness, it cannot get rid of it, and so it is crucial to rest.
I realized that my coffee consumption habits had hit an unhealthy point when I pulled an all-nighter writing a paper a couple weeks ago. Now, the all-nighter happened accidentally, and it was due to drinking a different caffeinated beverage (milk tea — which is a story for another day), but where coffee comes into the story is the day after. The next day, I still felt like I had work to do, and so I ended up drinking four shots of espresso to keep me going the whole day. Did I stay awake that day? Yes. Was it worth it? Not at all.
That day, despite being awake physically, I felt like a walking zombie. The caffeine gave me bursts of energy, to which my friends, knowing that I had pulled an all-nighter the night before, reacted with amusement and concern, but there were also moments when I could feel the tiredness in my eyes. When I came back to my dorm room that evening, I fell asleep in a flash.
When I woke up the next morning, my first thought was, “I am never drinking four shots of espresso after pulling an all-nighter again.” But as I continued my train of self-reflection, I thought about how I’ve been using coffee as a tool to eradicate my tiredness and continue checking things off of my checklist. I realized that while coffee can mask tiredness, it cannot get rid of it, and so it is crucial to rest. And, when you feel too busy to rest, it is even more important to take a break during those times.
So, in the quiet of my room that day, I vowed to intentionally start honoring my body by resting. I told myself that I wouldn’t drink coffee in the evenings and that I would go to bed no later than 12:15 a.m. every day. If I didn’t finish what I wanted to by that time, I would still honor my need to sleep and finish my work in the morning. I made a plan to prioritize rest in my life—as much as I do with everything else on my checklist.
It’s only been a couple of weeks, but this plan seems to be working out pretty well. I feel more well-rested, and my friends notice it too. And an important note — I have not given up coffee! I still have a cup in the morning, and I believe that slowly, coffee is reclaiming its place as simply a tasty beverage in my eyes.
So if your coffee consumption habits are anything like mine, I hope you will join me on this journey to rest with intention. We can still enjoy our coffee — our dark roast, light roast, lattes, cappuccinos and Americanos galore — but we can also prioritize rest in our lives. It may seem scary, but I promise you — it’ll be like the best of both worlds.
Emily Kim PO ’25 is from Irvine, California. She loves baggy sweaters, YouTube karaoke and banana bread.