Searching for the latest invigorating trend? Look no further than the inside of your own skull.
Tea is the new coffee, according to my colleagues. But they're wrong. Fuck tea. The only thing that gets me up in the morning the way coffee used to is anxiety. I don't even need an alarm any more; I just naturally jolt awake at 5am, screaming internally. Over the years I've collected tons of coffee-making equipment. I have an AeroPress, a V60, two different Bialetti Mokas, an espresso-maker and a filter machine. In almost exactly the same way, I've accumulated anxiety-making equipment too. A job, excessive rent, a drinking problem, a steadily emptying ISA, successful school friends and ambitious workmates. I'm a barista serving my own self-loathing. I gorge myself on foamy fear-of-failure lattes and quick shots of existential-angst espresso.
Actual coffee has no effect on me these days, other than to cause me anxiety about whether or not the beans I've bought are Fairtrade, or make me fear I'm drinking way too much coffee and maybe drinking coffee is making me more anxious than I already am, and maybe the coffee is making me ill and maybe I'll hit 50 and develop emphysema from the amount of coffee I drank in my late twenties/early thirties, and does coffee even give you emphysema, and what the hell is emphysema anyway, and what are the treatments, and am I going to die? But other than that, coffee has zero effect on me. Zero.
It's the same for all of us. We all came into the adult world with a spring in our step. Bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and unbearably positive. But it turns out that the adult world is a bastard. From the minute you're forced out of the warm embrace of home or university, real life is out to grind you into a shadow of everything you thought you'd grow up to be.
You're probably nodding manically in agreement, turning to the person next to you on the tube and screaming 'HE'S FUCKING RIGHT! I'M A NERVOUS WRECK!' while jabbing a shaky finger at your phone screen. But if you aren't, I have scientific proof: a survey conducted by mattress shop Eve Sleep found that 42 percent of Londoners lose sleep over fear of missing an email. That is science. And that is fucking ridiculous.
On the other hand, research conducted by Lakehead University in Canada shows that people with anxiety score higher on IQ tests. So as you lie awake – panicking about emails or worrying about whether Debbie from accounts took your joke seriously and is she going to complain to HR and what will you do when you get fired, you're not built for living on the streets, you don't know how to scavenge, you're from Berkshire, for goodness' sake – at least you can take consolation from the fact that you're probably of slightly above-average intelligence.
But maybe it's your relative yet meagre intelligence that's the cause of all of this. Maybe we need some sort of mass lobotomisation: whip the anxiety right out through the nose. Now, I'm anxious about how to finish this column. Do I make a joke about how you can see the effects of mass lobotomisation in the Houses of Parliament (and you'll all go 'Ooh, he did have a point after all!') or say something cute about how tea isn't the new coffee, anxiety is, and maybe we all need a rooibos?
Whichever one I choose, it will be the other one that would have won me the Pulitzer, journo-groupies and fan mail. Oh God, maybe I should do both endings. Tea isn't the new coffee, Houses of Parliament is rooibos. Does that work? Oh fuck.
Illustration: Nate Kitch
Want more ranting and raving? Read Chris Waywell's column on why eels are London's next street-food craze.Share the story