It’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for: the day I finally write my column about Juuling. However, I’m not going to simply say “Unpopular opinion: Juuling is stupid.” No, Maroon-News readers, I would never attack you like that. Believe it or not, I too have partaken in this illicit activity. So, let’s put all judgment aside for a minute. Instead, I’m going to tell you a story.
Last summer, I worked at a small coffee shop near my house. One of my coworkers was a 15-year-old girl named Stella. After a few grueling early morning shifts together, Stella and I became fast friends. Despite being much older than her, I honestly enjoyed her company. She was a sweet and funny girl, but it didn’t take long for me to notice an alarming trend in our conversations: Stella brought up alcohol, parties and drugs to show off how “cool” and “mature” she was.
It all started with the Juul. Squatting down beneath the espresso machine in her Abercrombie skinny jeans during a quiet lull in our morning shift, Stella surprised me by pulling out a Juul and taking a long, shameless hit. Caught off guard, I laughed and took a snapchat. We made a few more jokes about it and when my shift was over, I went home feeling strange and uncomfortable.
I was confused. Why did Stella Juuling make me uncomfortable? Was it because when I was her age I thought nicotine was the name of a brand of rat food? Be- cause she hadn’t even taken her SATs yet? Because her mango-flavored fumes were going to pollute the espresso beans?
No; I realized what made me uncomfortable about Stella’s Juuling was my reaction to it. I encouraged it. In that brief moment when I had to respond, I laughed and gave her the exact kind of attention she wanted.
Working with Stella forced me to confront my own moral qualms about “Juuling.” I realized Juuling wasn’t cool or exciting to me, the way it was to Stella. It wasn’t some thrilling bad habit I kept a secret from my parents. It wasn’t a rush of adrenaline from doing something “dangerous.” It was normal. It was ordinary. It was boring.
Of course, when I was her age, I would have been the exact same way. But my habituation to the college Juuling scene had affected my outlook. Juuls are not a phenomenon here. You aren’t cool if you have one, you’re weird if you don’t. I know that’s a little harsh, but in some pockets of this school, that’s the truth. “You don’t Juul? Why not?” is a question frequently asked to those who do not partake. The burden of having to explain to someone why you don’t want a crippling and potentially life-shortening nicotine addiction is actually a task that some people have to face on a daily basis.
However, I’m a proponent of the mentality that if something brings you joy, it’s worth doing. We all have bad habits. If it’s not nicotine, it’s something else. Potentially something worse. And truthfully, college kids aren’t exactly the poster children for perfect health anyways. We haven’t had a good night’s sleep in three years, we drink like we’re living in the prohibition era and we regularly fuel our bodies with carbs, sugar and caffeine. We’re always sick, always coughing and complaining about how “unwell” we are. To some of us, adding a nicotine addiction on top of all of that really doesn’t make a difference.
But if you’re like me, something that doesn’t bring you joy really doesn’t seem worth $16 a pack.
Contact Kara Schindler at [email protected]