I drink coffee. Not because I like it but because I learned to drink coffee. Learning to drink coffee did not require me to like it. We learn to do things we don’t like.
Who likes their first drag on a cigarette?
Their first taste of hard liquor?
Their first sip of black coffee?
I was at my new job at a Big 6 accounting firm. Age 30; a late start, having gone back to school in my 20’s to enhance my English major with something more marketable: accounting.
I commuted to this job an hour-plus each way, arriving at work about 7:15 am. The employee lounge had a vending machine that sold snacks plus a coffee machine with free coffee. Staff gathered there; the watering hole. A chance to get to know colleagues, informally over sugar and cream.
Before that job, I didn’t drink coffee. But at that job, getting a cup of coffee in the morning became my ritual. Encouraged by both the social aspect and a belief I needed caffeine, I started my weekdays with coffee. Over the course of three years, through near-daily practice, I acquired a new habit. I became a coffee drinker.
I was a wimpy coffee drinker. I didn’t drink it black. I put in healthy-sized teaspoons of sugar. Then I’d pop open one or two flavored, sweetened creamers (appallingly wasteful little products), and add those. That was the only way I could stomach it.
Which should have signaled to me that coffee wasn’t what I wanted.
Going in and having tea? Hot water? That wouldn’t have worked. I wanted to be a part of this new tribe. They drank coffee. Coffee was the means to an end.
My character that wanted to connect, overrode the character who disliked coffee. Inner conflict; one prevailed.
Thirty years later I still drink coffee. I still dislike the taste. I work for myself so there’s no office-tribe to attend to. And yet, I still drink it.
If I’d been raised in England, I’d probably be having tea. Whether I liked it or not.