The same dilemma arises every year around this time and it never gets easier.
How can you expect a college student to give up, let's say coffee, for forty days? Maybe the ridiculous line at Tim Horton's would finally be shorter for those of you not partaking in Lent, but I know I'll still drink my coffee.
I might have given it up in high school when I hardly drank the stuff, but now my body has tricked itself into believing that I need coffee to function on a daily basis. And if I'm pulling an all-nighter to study for a test or write a paper, then I definitely need it.
So let's be realistic. Instead of completely denying yourself the things that you love, why not set a goal that you can actually achieve without making yourself and everyone around you miserable? Rather than abstain completely from something you enjoy, why not set limits?
I know that it kind of defeats the purpose in a way, but I don't think Lent is a time to concentrate solely on self-denial. One should focus on the other parts of the holiday, like prayer, penitence and charity. Lent is a time for self-reflection and improvement. It's a time to be a better person, as cliché as it sounds, and to help those in need.
The purpose is to inspire a permanent change. This does not happen when people set unattainable limits on themselves. It happens when they seek to make small changes in their everyday lives that may lead to larger changes in the world around them.
As the great Indian philosopher Mahatma Gandhi once said, 'Be the change you want to see in the world.'
Think of some that leads to a lasting change and impacts a number of people, and do it.
If you really want to do something meaningful for Lent, come up with something better than giving up chocolate. Volunteer time at a non-profit organization or offer to tutor other students free of charge.
Do something that affects more than just you personally.