Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Sunsets and lattés: Stop apologising for the things you love

The first time I had an iced latté I was floating in a milky, caffeinated bliss and wondered why it had taken me so long to try one. As someone who has never been on the 'morning coffee' train or in the Starbucks fan club (the drinks are too strong and the smell gives me a headache), I was surprised that I could actually drink a species of coffee without it tasting like soil (or what I imagine soil would taste like). 

I'm sure to all the 'true' members of the coffee club who fumble with sleep-addled hands for the kettle before the alarm clock and stop for coffee on the way to work like it's petrol, that iced lattés are highly offensive. They're mostly just milk and ice after all. And I don't even get syrup in my order. (Is no syrup worse than getting vanilla syrup?) The point is, it dawned on me that the reason I'd absentmindedly been avoiding this drink from the menu is because of the negative connotations that come with it. Like somehow having a palate with a poor tolerance for caffeine defines the rest of my personality. Like ordering an iced coffee has to come with leggings and a messy bun. Like it matters if it does.

I hate how easy and naturalised it has become to feel ashamed of what we love. I would ask for a soft drink at a house party or family gathering and immediately follow it with, 'sorry, I know that's boring'. Looking back I want to give my shoulders a shake and ask myself why I am apologising for a harmless personal preference. I'm not even sure why I say it, because if I genuinely believed it to be the 'boring option' then I (obviously) wouldn't choose it, but the apology tumbles from my lips anyway, relentless and echoing.

I used to feel so ashamed of the things that I loved (and didn't love). I would order the extravagant drink when all I really wanted was a glass of water. I'd refrain from posting certain photos because they weren't 'edgy' enough. I'd bop along to an R&B song by an artist whose name I pretended to know when really all I wanted was to listen to old-school Taylor Swift. I felt guilty for wanting to spend my day between the pages of a book rather than hiking up hills and playing sports. Now? I post photos of my food to Instagram like it's nobody's business and listen to Taylor Swift loud and proud. Because if following trends is really so banal, then how is avoiding the things that we love for the sake of others any better? 

I appreciate a good sunset as much as the next person. I like when my latté comes with a swirl of white foam, I gravitate more towards orange juice than prosecco, and sometimes I read my horoscope. But I also like sinking my teeth into a good book and surrounding myself with people who I can talk about more than just mindless gossip with. I'm also aware that there are people who find sunsets cheesy and latté art pretentious, and maybe they prefer black coffee in a clean white mug or murky grey skies over sunshine. These traits don't define us. 

Here's a hard pill to swallow: our interests are not mutually exclusive. Curling up with a cheesy reality TV show after a long day doesn't hinder my ability to enjoy an intellectual documentary or podcast. Still, I'm trying to pinpoint when it became normal to make people feel guilty for the things that they love. Positivity is so important, and if someone is brimming with colourful enthusiasm, then shouldn't we be tending to the flames rather than snuffing them out? We spend so much time fighting the corner of 'individuality' and reminding people not to be afraid of liking things that other people don't, that we forget to mention that it's also okay to like the things that other people do. 

The sad truth is, we can't win. If we show interest in something too 'out there' then we're weird, but if we love something remotely mainstream then we're boring. I can't help but feel that there are so many boundaries and crosshatched lines these days, it's almost impossible to keep up - so I've stopped trying to. 

And maybe it's terribly British of us to feel apologetic for not being spectacular enough, or maybe it's the debris of a society stretched too thin, but I live for the moments that make my heart sing. When happiness comes in vibrant blooms like a bed of daffodils and I feel nothing other than content. Sometimes that's a day with my family or an exciting milestone, others it's something as simple as a good book or the perfect cup of tea. So whether it paints us as incredibly dull or completely mad, if it fills us with joy then let's keep going - 



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