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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

I used to resent the idea of being a boring person with predictable patterns and routines.

Being a regular at a coffee shop doesn’t have to mean you are basic. There are certain things, like being in the same place every day, that teach you about yourself and the people around you.

You see, I am a regular at this little joint called Cafe Paradiso. A couple things you should know about Paradiso: it is in fact not very little at all. Large enough, conceptually, that it is the one coffee shop former President Barack Obama visited when he came down to Champaign-Urbana. Another thing you need to know about Paradiso is that it is the watering hole to a local population– it reflects the intersection of small-town humility with a city-goers quirky aesthetic.

You get the picture. Or maybe you don’t. Either way, I highly recommend you go. I’m only cautious in the way any obnoxious coffee shop aficionado would be in fear of overcrowding their safe haven.

You see what initially drew me to Paradiso was its attainable-unattainable cool-kid aesthetic. Very soon, I discovered their gorgeous sourdough bagels. Oh and their homemade sour creams (the sun-dried tomato is the best one, no debate.) Soon my motivations changed once more.

Cafe Bagle Coffee Laptop
Michele Hu / Spoon

I was sitting there, a very ‘cool’ kid indeed, my stomach carb-satisfied. So what was bringing me back? The music in the store was perfect. The drinks were creative. But what brings me back each and every time is the people. 

Sometimes when you frequent a place as often as I do, you like to immerse yourself in everything that is that place. You notice the baristas, the customers, the spots people sit and the people they sit with. You become a different sort of observant wherein you begin to notice patterns or the lack thereof. You come more and more often for the coffee, the ambiance and to be productive. Until you finally realize something. You ARE the regular. 

I think the biggest shift that occurs when you acquire this new identity, of being a ‘regular,’ is that you can now take comfort in both recognizing fellow regulars like yourself and also those who are new. With smiling eyes, through your mask you know, you knowingly welcome them to a place you have no ownership over whatsoever. But, it almost feels like you are welcoming them to your home. You become so comfortable that you no longer feel irrationally irritable about all the new people crowding your space. 

With your wisdom, fuelled with months of earlier visits you begin to see the bigger picture. You develop a duality that allows you to hide in your own little world but also dissociate into the entire life another individual is living.

Hi there, Nandika here! I am currently a Senior at the University of Illinois, Urbana- Champaign. I'm double majoring in Communications and Psychology with minors in Business and Public Relations. In my free time, I love biking, long walks, listening to music, and spending time with animals and friends. I really enjoy writing and I'm enthusiastic to contribute :)
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