Words by Kathryn Monsewicz
I have done a terrible thing.
A horrible, terrible, absolutely atrocious thing.
It’s a habit and it’s bad.
I feel guilty, ashamed, fraudulent.
And it costs me $1.75.
We all have our vices. For some, it’s a case of the seven deadly sins. You are a glutton and you ate all the Oreos before your little brother could have even one. You’re addicted to sex and bought the whole book set of “Fifty Shades of Grey.” You’re such a sloth that the commercial of the little fat boy calling his grandmother to bring him another grape soda is you in a nutshell. Greed has your wallet packed, and pride keeps it tight. Envy put your significant other’s phone in your hand, and wrath made you throw it across the room.
Original Sin is a term coined by Christian doctrine that states, from the time of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, all humans are born with inherent tendency to sin. Whether you believe this or not doesn’t matter. My point is that all human beings have a dark side (insert Star Wars joke here).
I use myself as an example. Not trying to brag, of course. That would be the sin of pride. Which I have, so, yes, I’m bragging.
I am a qualified, professional, top-of-the-class health addict. Vegetables are the main ingredient in my diet and the gym is my church. I’ve cleared the vitamin and supplement shelves at my local pharmacy. I’ve been sucked into the organic-only illusion, and I’ve thrown every fat-free, sugar-free, gluten-free, taste-like-cardboard food into my shopping cart at least once. This hundred-pound, lean-as-a-string-bean girl has studied up on everything nutrition since the first health class she took in middle school. Am I qualified? Well, I don’t have a concrete license, but if I can get the NSA to monitor my Google search activity, I’m sure they’ll vouch for me.
How is being a health addict a sin? I should be praised and pedestalled for my habits!
Cue the Hannah Montana song hiding in the back of your mind: Nobody’s perfect.
Like I said, I have my bad habits, too.
I started doing it for the high it gave me. The taste of the substance in my mouth and the way it fizzes and bubbles gives me this feeling of sweet clarity as if my entire body is being cleaned out with a powerful, sudsy soap. I have all the energy in the world when I’m on it. No longer do I fall asleep in my three hour writing lab or on the drive back home from a long day of lectures. It is my methamphetamine, my cocaine, my ecstasy in a 16.9 fluid ounce bottle.
Oh, the hypocrisy! The aspartame-induced lies! I hear you. I can hear you perfectly clear, judging me while I casually sip my Diet Pepsi and map out tomorrow morning’s 4 a.m. yoga routine. And yes, I know all the bad consequences of drinking calorie-free soda. It makes you crave more sweets and gain weight. It’s associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. The artificial sweeteners can be linked to chronic headaches and depression.
If something is so bad for you, so detrimental to your health and possibly happiness, why do you do it? It’s all a part of the human condition. We do things that are bad for us because, in the short term, we think they are good. Drug addicts want a temporary release from reality, so they take the first hit and all of a sudden get that euphoria they were craving -— the escape.
I’m not drinking diet soda to escape from life. I’m drinking the forbidden substance to avoid everyday pitfalls like the even more forbidden and tempting chocolate cake or falling asleep in class.
Maybe this isn’t the worst habit in the world. There are people who have more damaging addictions, and their reasons for practicing that behavior are variable. Because of the knowledge I have about nutrition, this diet soda addiction represents a bad habit on a scale measured under those conditions.
Humans have addictive tendencies. It’s why we have morning routines, why we drive the same route to work everyday, why we make Tuesdays taco night and get our hair trimmed instead of completely re-styled. Then there are bad habits, too. Each person you meet, be it a saintly priest or the jailbird picking up trash beside a highway, is addicted to some vice. I’m not preaching Original Sin. I’m saying perfect angels are few and far between.
Bad habits don’t make bad people.