I don’t want to be a short adult. With that thought, an elementary school-aged me decided not to drink caffeine. It was more of a statement than a lifestyle change. Soda was already rare treat, and I hated the taste of my dad’s black coffee. It was easy to live my mostly caffeine-less life until college.
There was a brief period where I tried my luck with caffeine. I worked at Dunkin Donuts for about a month of my freshman year. It was a blur of taking coffee orders and assembling sandwiches. But I will never forget the fateful day in which I forgot that sweet tea was caffeinated and also decided to try a latte.
Why don’t I drink caffeine all the time? I asked my roommate as I stayed up way later than usual working on calculus homework. I have so much energy! I chirped. The next morning I awoke, still feeling my heart flutter from the caffeine. There was a disconnect between the energy that I felt and the reality of my tiredness. I didn’t like it.
That experience ended any hope of a relationship with the substance. Today, drinking caffeine is a rare occurence done out of necessity. The airplane doesn’t offer herbal tea. There’s only Coke on hand at a party, and I am in need of a mixer for my whiskey.
While my avoidance started out of childhood vanity, it’s turned into something deeper. Anyone who knows me knows that I am quick to say yes to every good thing that comes my way, and there are many. I work a fulfilling job while also writing, consulting, marketing, advocating, planning a wedding, and trying to see my friends. It’s as tiring as it is energizing. There’s very little room for rest.
It’s no surprise that the concept of Sabbath doesn’t come easily to me. Just trying to imagine being rather than doing causes my chest to tighten up and the stress butterflies to start fluttering. It’s a problem. I’m working on it.
Part of me knows that, for me, drinking caffeine would tempt me to push myself even more than I already do. Without caffeine, I am hyper aware of my limits. The fatigue inevitably catches up to me, and I have to address it. I have to rest.
I’m not the kind of Christian who has set aside a whole day for restoration, but I do take glorious afternoon naps on the weekends, the kind where it feels like my mattress has been blessed by the divine. And I go to bed at a decent hour. My body forces me to. There’s no false energy to run on.
One day I will say no to more than caffeine and regularly give myself the space I need to recharge. But today, I’m thankful for small steps in the right direction, cat naps, and for a young Taylor who made a decision that her older self can be proud of.