What Makes You You?

Almost a year ago, a girl looking to move into town to work in coffee reached out asking for advice. Eventually we met up, chatted, and from them on I made it a point to give her tips and link opportunities that seemed interesting.

After one of those messages, she replied with “thanks barista Vinni.”

Barista Vinni.

I often think back to that message, and it always calls into question some of my identity. I find myself wondering what I did exactly to warrant that. To warrant being “reduced” to a barista. I mean, there’s a lot more that I am. I’m a reader, a writer, a hobby brewer. I’m short, I’m quiet, I’m upbeat. I walk quickly, I eat a lot, I work out. I’m a student, and I’m also a barista.

At that time, I was going out of my way to put my barista side on the spotlight, but how could she not see everything else?!

I only tell this little anecdote because it touches on an important concept: how others see us will very rarely match how we see ourselves. What they have figured us out to be will most of the time be a part of our identity, but reductive at best.

Life Update

Before I get into the actual topic (which I’m typing up on wordpress and won’t be editing), I’d like to call attention to my Now Page. Basically, if you ever wanna know what’s been taking up my time, head over there and you’ll find it.

The last couple of months have been incredible on my side. I met some incredible people and got very close to others I’ve known for a longer time, but had never actually sat down to talk one on one to. This stronger contact with people and closer relationships I started leading during the time brought me back to a Vinni I used to be: the Vinni I was when I started off the website.

This Vinni is someone I like much more than who I’d been for the longest time until then. I (re-)shifted my focus from coffee into reading, self improvement and building stronger relationships, which is frankly much more worthwhile. I stopped telling myself I’d write and started working on my list of “topics I’ll get to eventually,” starting with one that’s getting close to first draft completion. Stopped trying to get up early every morning and started, well, actually doing it.

And as it is when you start spending time with more worthwhile things, I started getting ideas, my brain started racing. Three things will be changing on the website in the very near future:

  • The newsletter:
    • No more “feed-type” emails. Instead, I’ll be sending an email every Monday with some inspiration for the week. A minimum of three and maximum of five items. Those will be things I’ve found worthwhile and would like to share, maybe books, articles, quotes, whatever calls my attention.
  • A “books” section:
    • Those who followed me from the start will remember I had a “book” section on the website. I eventually discontinued it as it proved to be lazy content. Well, I’m picking it back up, but in a different format. I’ll try to distill most of what I learn from each book into directives1 and publish on a new section of the website that’s still in the works. I’ll announce it on my new newsletter (yeah, I know what I did there) when it’s up.
  • Articles:
    • I promise myself I’ll always have an “Ask Vinni article” in the works. Please refer to my Now page for more information on the topic I’ll be researching and writing about. Book and article recommendations are always more than welcome.

Looking back on what happened over the last two years, I attribute a lot of the struggles I faced to my lack of work. I worked behind a counter, yes, but I didn’t work for myself. I didn’t create. Now, looking back, I see how necessary it is. The quality of my work is still not quite where I’d like it to be, but that’s ok. The only way to make better work is to go through more volume, make more mistakes, get back up and keep learning.

There’s one quote from Marcus Aurelius that always pulled me, but I never understood why, I never understood what it exactly meant. I still couldn’t explain it, but I feel like I understand it now.

“To stand up straight, not straightened.”

I hope you’re as excited for this new stage as I am.

My Life is My Work

I actually don't drink capps anymore

One of the things I promised myself was to publish this article by the end of the week. Due to how things played out, I didn’t have time to proofread it properly, but I’m sticking to my promise.

For a long time I’ve been using my work as a way to ground myself in reality. To give structure to my days and weeks, help me get up early and get moving. Opening the doors to the shop in many ways meant to me the first step in starting my days. The first hour was a moment to review thoughts, jot things down and prepare for the rest of the day. As I dialled the coffee in and got it to taste just right, I was also dialling myself in. Leaving the shop, I could keep this productivity up, do sports, cook something, read, write, etc…

But on free days, when I didn’t dial coffee in and centered myself on getting up, I tended to feel lost, like I was moving without direction.

Mind you, things only ever got to this point because I absolutely love my work. I’m passionate about what I do day in and day out, sometimes even to my detriment.

Time

Before I left home, my dad gave me a watch.

He said I should give things time. I kept rushing, wanted time to go by faster and faster by the minute. I wanted to jump years ahead, get to the “fun part of life.”

I didn’t understand it then, and sometimes still refuse to understand it now, but time is gonna pass no matter what, and it’s gonna run at the pace it’s always done. Just like my old watch, which ran out of batteries by now, used to tick at the same pace as every other watch.

The word “pace” is important here. The fact that we can’t influence it, even more.

It means that the minutes will turn into hours, months and eventually, in their due time, to years. It won’t go faster, we don’t get a skip button.

But we also don’t get to slow it down.

That leaves us with two options:

Either we use the time, or we waste it.

It’s not coffee

I know a lot of people start off hating the thing, or drinking it with copious amounts of milk and sugar to mask the taste but still get the caffeine. I guess I was fortunate in that regard, since I never particularly disliked drinking coffee black and never really did consume too much sugar and milk. For the longest time, I neither disliked it nor liked it, but I was always attracted by the ritual surrounding the beverage.

Nowadays, though, if you ask me if I “like” coffee, I’d probably answer that I don’t. At least not what is commonly regarded as coffee. You give me something that isn’t a somewhat fresh crop, fresh (and light) roast, fresh ground, fresh everything, and I’ll probably not manage to drink it. Maybe that means I became a snob. I’ll leave that up to you, I guess. But in the process of becoming a snob, I realized that coffee is much more than just coffee.