Every year here at Northwestern University, over one thousand brave, naïve souls participate in the largest student-run philanthropy event in the nation: Dance Marathon.

This Friday, I will become one of those sleep-deprived, passive-aggressive, starving, sore and practically dead – but spiritually fulfilled – human beings.

In preparation for 30 hours on my feet nonstop, all other student dancers and I were advised by the Dancer Relations Committee to “quit caffeine.”

No. Not happening. I need coffee. Can’t do it. Sorry. My addiction to coffee quite literally dictates my everyday routine.

I'm not doing that








Unfortunately, caffeine is banned in the DM tent, so I was pretty much forced to at least try to break the habit. Last Friday, seven days before Dance Marathon, I stopped drinking coffee. Here is my battle with caffeine addiction (and probably yours, too) as told by a series of gifs:

Day 1:

i feel great

As with starting anything new (like a diet or workout plan), I feel prepared, excited and ready to kick butt! By the time 5 pm rolls around, so does my headache. Help.

Day 2:

Day 2









Commitment is good. After an iced decaf, I feel adequately awake and ready to carry on with my day. Looks like I’m getting the hang of this.

Day 3:

Dya 4

I TOTALLY got this. It’s game time. I don’t need coffee. Heck, I might quit for good. Steph – 1, Coffee – 0.

Day 4:

Day 5

I can’t feel anything. I am dead. My motor functions are not functioning, I’m slurring my words and my friends have been asking me, “Who died?” Someone get me a treinta ASAP.

Day 5:

I can't do this

I need it. I have to cave. So what if I crash during Dance Marathon? Maybe I can sneak a small latte into the tent. Maybe I can hide little plastic tubes filled with espresso shots in my fanny pack. Maybe I can just get an IV filled with coffee and hide it under my tank! Bingo.

Day 6:


It’s the homestretch. I can see the horizon. This is so inspiring. I’m a champion. I’ve conquered my addiction.

Day 7:

Day 7

I did it! Take that, coffee! No more will I need you and your delicious, warm, liquid goodness… Shoot.

Day 8-10:


Time to dance. For 30 hours straight. Without caffeine.

What I’ve learned: I need coffee. I’m an addict and I’m not afraid to say it. It was nice to show myself that I could live without it, but this past week, I was hardly living. It was a sad life to “live.”

Decaf will do for now, but come Sunday, I’m going back to black.

If you too have a serious dependence on caffeine, the first step is acceptance. If you need help, try these tips:

  • Drink tons of H2O instead. Water works wonders for waking you up.
  • Try working out in the morning instead of the afternoon. It sets your energy levels high for the rest of the day and you can always nap later.
  • Eat more protein and amino acids. Think nuts, fish, and avocados, or try a vitamin supplement!
  • Drink half-caf instead, then slowly transition into decaf. Some scientific research suggests that coffee could be a placebo, so the taste may be what gets you going in the AM.