An Ode to Coffee, and Confronting Things You Don't Like
This is the story about a naïve, coffee-hating young man by the name of Elliott. The year was 2016, and he had just started his first 'proper' job in a local office. He'd made it this far in life politely declining any offers of hot drinks if asked, and reluctantly sipped at them if they were placed before him, ultimately tipping the majority of it away once it had gone cold. Tea was slightly more bearable than coffee, but neither of them were particularly appealing. Hot, bitter, and, depending on who made the drink and what their own preferences were, the quality could vary wildly. It could be too sweet, too milky, too hot, too cold... it was a minefield. It was much simpler to ask for juice instead, or a fizzy drink. Or - failing that, good old tap water. Up until this point in his life, this strategy had worked just fine, and he'd got by without any major incidents.
But things were about to change forever.
Young Elliott had unknowingly and brazenly wandered deep into the lair of the coffee and tea fiends. Hot drink worshippers. These fanatics wouldn't take no for an answer, and soon he found himself conscripted into the national service of hot drink making. He was coaxed into it initially with the promise of the mocha. Yes, it was a hot drink, and yes, it had coffee in it, but it also had the sweet allure of chocolate to soften the blow. The mocha really is a nice entry-level hot drink - any aversions to the actual taste of coffee are softened, and yet you still get to feel like one of the adults, drinking their hot drinks. And, anyone who didn't see you actually make the drink none the wiser that you're a fraud. Things were sweet. And they continued like this - for a time. Until one day, there was no hot chocolate powder left in the office. Our hero was forced to make a a dangerous choice - back out, and out himself as a fraudster, or venture further within and face the deep, dark, black coffee...chocolateless. And so he did. It was horrible.
Fast forward to 2021 and the once-naïve, coffeeless Elliott is nowhere to be seen - and in his place instead; a man who wouldn't dream of starting the working day without a coffee at his desk. Somehow, through this trial by fire, and through repeated exposure to the substance, a drip-feeding of a drink he resented - he came to tolerate it. And, eventually, enjoy it. Sure, there's a mocha every now and then to mix things up, but it's been a long road of uninterrupted black coffees for months and months for me at this point. I faced my fears, stared them head-on, and overcame them. Even the once-preferred tea has fallen by the wayside now, dwarfed by love for a nice mug full of the good stuff.
OK - perhaps I'm drawing grand conclusions from a mundane anecdote here, but stick with me. Perhaps there is a lesson to be learned here. Whilst there is undeniably a lot to be said for your initial instincts to new and different things - it can sometimes be worth persevering past these instincts, because you end up having experiences that you wouldn't have otherwise had. And sure, slowly adjusting to the taste of coffee isn't anything life-changing, but it's an analogy that I think a lot of people will resonate with. Our tastes can change. And I mean literally - foods, drinks, smells, but our tastes in media too; music, film, theatre - over time, if we revisit something we initially dismissed, we may find that we're at a point in our lives where we can give it a second shot.
There have been books, films and games that have taken multiple attempts to crack in order for me to appreciate. The Office, The Witcher III, Mass Effect, even A Game of Thrones - these all took me multiple tries to penetrate after an initial distaste, and they all now sit as some of my favourites in their respective mediums. So - maybe it's time you revisited a food you thought you didn't like, tried a drink you turned your nose up at, or cracked open that book you got four pages into before shelving indefinitely. You might just have a grand old time.
(It would also help if you were surrounded by an entire office full of people peer-pressuring you into doing so!)