Pumpkin Spice Is Great, But Pumpkin Spice Lattes Are Overrated

PSL? Yes To The PS, But Hold The L

Fall is here and that means pumpkin spice. No latte here please.

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It's that time of year again. The mornings become brisker, the sun peaks through the horizon a little later, and the smell of fall is in the air. You all know what that means… it's time for Starbucks to bring back their famous specialty drink, the Pumpkin Spice Latte, into your life. It's basically a seasonal celebrity. Every Starbucks lover has been counting down to this moment for months and now it's finally here.

Fall has become one of my absolute favorite seasons (besides summer, of course). Growing up in New England, I have always looked forward to the beautiful foliage every year with the gorgeous assortments of warm-colored leaves on the trees. My siblings and I would wake up early every Saturday for a morning full of soccer games followed by playing in the colorful leaves before raking them into a big pile and jumping in them. Spending time with family and enjoying each other's company has always been my favorite memory of fall. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays where I get to spend time with my grandparents, cousins, and aunts and uncles, and enjoy my grandmother's delicious home cooking.

This is a special time, especially now that I am in college because I don't get to see my family very often. Being able to spend time with them on this holiday is something that I look forward to every year, besides the delicious food (obviously).

If fall could be described by one scent/flavor, it would definitely be pumpkin spice. There's no question about it. Whether it's pumpkin spice-flavored coffee creamer, specialty coffee drinks, bakery goods, cereals, ice cream, candle scents, air fresheners, you name it. It's impossible to get away from it during the fall months. I have definitely become acquired to pumpkin spice over the years. I'm still not a big fan of pumpkin pie, but I enjoy most pumpkin spice-flavored things, except Pumpkin Spice Lattes.

I have never thought of fall in terms of a Starbucks drink. This has become the new craze over the last few years and quite frankly, I think it's overrated. Sure, I like Starbucks, but I don't think the PSL deserves all of the praise it gets. A few years ago, I wanted to see what all of the talk was about, so I ordered my first PLS. Come to find, I could barely take three sips. It didn't even taste like pumpkin to me because it probably didn't have any pumpkin in it. It was loaded with sugar and I couldn't drink any more of it without feeling sick.

Yes, I know that probably makes me an outcast, but fall is supposed to be about family, playing in the leaves, Thanksgiving, Halloween, Friday night football games under the lights, apple and pumpkin picking, and much more. People have become so obsessed with this drink and it's taking away from what pumpkin spice really is.

So to all of you PSL enthusiasts, it's time for a wake-up call. Try something that has real pumpkin in it and see if you can taste the difference. Trust me, it will be worth it.

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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it

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Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

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What Rescuing a Dog Taught Me About My Future

She was a real pain to begin with, but I wouldn't give her up for the world now.

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My first dog came from a breeder to us when he was just a puppy. I was in third grade so we were both young together. I remember stepping off of the bus and seeing him curled up in my mom's arms. His breed, a Cavalier King Charles, is a highly sought after dog for their small size and beautiful markings. However, dog breeding can lead to medical complications down the line. Heart murmurs are very frequent as cavaliers get older. When he turned 9 years old, they were already detecting the beginning of a heart murmur in him. But my second dog didn't come to us in quite the same way.

Willow was about a year old. She was rescued from an abusive home where she had to fight for her food from many other dogs. This made her guard resources and distrustful of us. My mom and I begged the rest of our family for the ability to adopt her, and they finally agreed. Being not potty trained, we had to teach her with a lot of positive encouragement when she went pee in the right place (not our carpet). It took her a while to realize that we weren't going to take her food away and she gradually became less resource guarding. She started to trust my other dog more and play with him. A lot of the time, they even snuggle together now.

At the time, I was in my junior year of high school and still thinking about the idea of becoming a veterinarian. She helped me decide to go for it, and now I'm in college and getting ready to apply for veterinary school. Willow has become part of our family, and her funny and unique personality fit right in with us.

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