Calvin Dong
3 min readJul 27, 2017


Instead of sleeping, I find myself awake again for no reason.

I try to form some meaning from the clouds of words that dance between my eyes when I close them.

And they all mean something — they take me back to old times. To experiences created and sights seen, and sensations felt and vibrations heard.

Then I flip open my laptop and jot them down so I don’t forget, because the same thing never happens twice.

What is it this time? Isn’t it strange how we ascribe so much significance to the invisible regulations that guide every interaction we have? Things like looking people in the eyes when they speak, things like shaking people’s hands when we first meet someone. If someone doesn’t do those things, it’s weird. Really weird.

Also how much first impressions really do matter — the more people I meet the more I find myself making unconscious snap judgments in the first 30 seconds. Oh, he stands with a slouch? Guess he’s not that confident. Little subconscious triggers that go off in my brain that I can consciously restrain, but triggers that go off nonetheless.

In that sense, we’re all more human when we were children, when it was socially acceptable to really be free. And as we grew older we were taught what was correct and what was wrong, and that would guide us through our normal adult lives. But still — if you’ve ever heard a kid yelling in a pitch black movie theater when it’s clearly not “socially acceptable”, you’ve seen what humans are like naturally, if we hadn’t been taught otherwise. A wide variance of everything. Those who make their every emotion known to the whole wide world. And for every person like that, there’s a kid, maybe your cousin, who’ll see you for the first time, sheepishly glance down, and walk away when being introduced to you. Because they really just don’t want to talk to you right now, but there’s a 100% chance that when that same kid grows up they’ll meet you again and plaster a smile on their face and try their best to pretend they’re excited to meet you.

It’s so hard to be who you really are, because I don’t remember anymore. And the more I hear people give advice on “finding your passion” and “being yourself”, the more I tune it out, because how much of that is really you talking, and how much of that are the other voices in your head that tell you to do what other people think is right. It’s not a bad thing per se, and there’s nothing that can be done about it, but for myself, it’s important to always keep this in the back of my mind. If you get down to it, nothing’s really real.

In the same vein, doing things just because it’s the cool, unpopular way is just as unhealthy for me. For example, I’m not dropping out of college. “Look at me, everyone who’s ever tried to help me out is completely wrong and doesn’t understand me and I’m so cool for doing something no one else does” is the mentality I’m trying to avoid (and I definitely used to be someone who liked to do that oops). If there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that I’m always really confident up until I get forcibly thrown into an uncomfortable environment and then I realize how wrong I was.

This wasn’t supposed to be really negative. I think there are solutions. Honestly, two things really — not taking things seriously at all and embracing the change/uncertainty makes everything pretty damn fun. The ride is really rocky, but it’s like whitewater rafting, right? You never know if you’ll emerge unscathed and exuberant or if you’ll emerge with missing teeth (but still exuberant). Looking forward to these next years yay