Musings About Night at Night... Nightception?

When I tell people that I stay up all night for fun, I get mostly concerned looks and motherly admonitions, and for good reasons. I’m well aware of the detrimental effects sleep deprivation has on my health, but I’ve loved the night for as long as I can remember. My mother and I joke that it’s because I was born at night and that was when my first day started, but I’ve come to grow fond of it for other reasons as well. Show more

It’s quiet. Except for the occasional car driving down the road outside my apartment, there is nothing else. Nothing to distract me from whatever train of thought is in my mind, nothing to pull me out of what I call my low-battery mode. Whether I’m contemplating a social controversy or giggling at pictures of pandas, my mind has the freedom to do whatever it wants without interruption.
It’s peaceful. Sitting in bed with my headphones on, I have no expectations of myself or the world. I am completely and utterly content: a rare feeling in the frantic life of a busy undergraduate student. My coding project and statistics homework no longer tug at my every move, my phone is face down somewhere on the floor. There is nothing I have to do “right now” and nothing I need to look at “as soon as I sit down.” Just for a few hours, everything slows down a little bit.
It’s dark. Normally, I’m scared of the dark. I walk home at night alert with every passing shadow, anxious with every little sound. But in my room at night, the darkness is comforting. I am truly in my personal space, and the darkness feels like my own little bubble in which I can’t see the rest of the world and the rest of the world can’t see me.
Don’t get me wrong, I stay up all night doing homework and studying too. Every can of coffee on my desk is tied to a night of me banging my head on my laptop trying to absorb information (I do not recommend this tactic, it does not work). But there are times when I don’t need a pile of deadlines to stay up — all I need is a desire to get away from all the people and all the rush. I don’t do it every night, only when I need time to stand still.
And yes, I wrote this at night.

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I Give Terrible Advice

“How do you survive?”
I got this question when I was helping a friend finish his interviews. Club recruitment weeks were a real struggle with the 6 hours of interviews in a day, logistical nightmares, and sleepless nights. I had suffered through two of the most physically and emotionally exhausting weeks in my life, but it didn’t matter to me. I wanted to be a responsible upperclassman. Show more

So I pushed away the “I don’t know” that I would have told anyone else and I threw together an explanation about remembering why I was passionate, staying focused on my goals, just anything that sounded like it would come from a responsible upperclassman.
When I was done, we looked to the other interviewer. He’s leaning back, chin in his hand, looking pensive with his brows furrowed.
“I don’t know what to tell you,” he said. “I had a crisis just last week.” As the whole room burst into laughter, he finished with “I call my mom.”
We laughed because it was a funny comment, but was it really? I was so wrapped up in who I wanted to be that I forgot to be who I was. After all, I call my mom every time I have a crisis — lots of us do. But we hear from our role models all the time to be fearless, follow our dreams, to never give up, to stay focused, to do all the things I told the applicant to do. Don't get me wrong, these are all solid pieces of advice. But at the end of the day, perhaps the most valuable advice is to call our moms because our relationships with our people are what’s most important. It’s not our GPAs, it’s not our salaries, it’s not what college we go to. For me at least, none of those would exist without my family, teachers, or friends. I wouldn’t be where I am or who I am today without all the people who helped shape my values.
I do text and/or call my mom every day, but that wasn’t the first piece of advice that came to my mind. You’d think it would be after the stressful weeks I just had, but my default setting in front of strangers was “responsible upperclassman.” For some reason, I associated being responsible with being fake. I know that honesty isn’t always the best policy, but the best pieces of advice we give are often the unexpectedly honest ones. It allows others to learn from our mistakes, gives them a glimpse into our real everyday life, and makes them feel at ease because of our sincerity. If nothing else, it makes people laugh in a silent library room. And maybe that little corner of happiness is just enough for us to survive another tiring day.
If you’ve made it this far, thank you. Call your mom.

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