Via @ameshighweb on Instagram

The Web staff enjoying their caffeinated beverages from North Burgies. (October 2021)

It’s 5 AM and my eyes peel open with exhaustion. As high school students, we have all been there. An early wake-up call for a long day ahead. Remains of my unfinished homework lay sprawled across my desk, still untouched from the night before. The approaching deadlines haunt me from a distance. My computer battery burns hot on my lap, illuminating my sunken face. I brew a cup of coffee. Steam rises from the mug as the bitter liquid flows through my system, activating my every sense. My brain excites and my hands know what to do. I come to life. My curtains open. Today: scene 1.

Many students crave the buzz of an energy drink to get through a workout or seek the warmth of a strong coffee to carry them through their next class. I often think I couldn’t do it without it. But with every great relief, there is almost always a catch. Is it the money wasted on multiple energy drinks a day? Is it the painful crash a few hours later? Possibly it’s the unrecognizable words hidden in the margins of ingredients. To me, there is only one way to describe the crave and sensation cycle. It’s an addiction.

Caffeine is a drug known as a stimulant, something that excites the central nervous system. It’s easily consumed and highly addictive. The small rise of dopamine it provides leads to craving more and more, building a demanding tolerance. As this tolerance builds over time so does the risk of health effects. Depending on the person, anxiety, sleep loss, cardiovascular problems and more all could be issues for an avid caffeine consumer. Almost as scary is the withdrawal process, leaving some feeling tired, giving them headaches, and restraining any ability to function properly. Somehow I am unbothered by the effects. Maybe it’s the addiction talking, or maybe the pros somehow outweigh the cons.

Despite the downfalls, there are many reasons why caffeine is such a popular and helpful stimulant. Enhancing your focus, mood, awareness, and information processing are just a few life-changing benefits. It also helps with weight loss and motivation, providing physical and mental energy to all aspects of life. I may not be a life expert, but I do know that I often spend my time searching for more of those very things.

For me, caffeine works, and I will continue to be addicted. In a world full of deadlines and loops of time the world has no mercy on an 18-year-old girl. So I reach for caffeine to be one step ahead. I spend my money on preparation and performance. Because I am human and I cannot do it all by myself. Even if caffeine isn’t a secret ingredient for you, it’s ok to recognize something else that might be. Though we may not be proud of it, we all have something that gets us through. Because without that one thing life just might be even more incredibly impossible. So let’s let it be ok. To have one thing.