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Photo by Mario Purisic on Unsplash

As a self-described introvert, I am selective with where and whom I invest my energy in. I’m more comfortable walking alone in the woods than being at a party with strangers. I hate small-talk. And I don’t particularly like strangers.

While I don’t particularly like strangers, just like everyone else, I crave connection with others.

So why am I writing an article about connecting with strangers? First, let me define my definition of connection:

Connection (noun): 1) a person that you feel close to, 2) the warm and fuzzy feeling inside when you feel close to someone

While I don’t particularly like strangers, just like everyone else, I crave connection with others. …

Loneliness will be real during this pandemic…

COVID19 is here to stay for the foreseeable future. As cases continue to increase, workplaces and schools close, and the need for social distancing increases, we have to figure out ways to balance the societal need to separate and our human needs for connection and community.

Here are 10 thoughts on how to but socially distance and maintain our mental health in these uncertain times:

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Photo by Kristina Tripkovic on Unsplash

1. Loneliness vs. Solitude

While the terms social isolation and loneliness are commonly used interchangeably in everyday language, social isolation describes the objective absence of connection whereas loneliness is the subjective state of feeling alone.

Even though we may be alone at home in solitude, that does not mean we have to be lonely. Remember, people willingly go on meditation retreats and long hikes in order to seek out solitude. While these social distancing measures are sudden, maybe we should reconceptualize this social distancing as an opportunity for solitude? …

My 10-day experiment to find the best way to live

My dad always jokes with our family, “Are you eating to live or living to eat?!”

Food is an important part of Vietnamese culture. As a Vietnamese refugee, my dad has gone through phases of both eating to live and living to eat.

Perhaps I am taking my dad’s saying a little bit too literally, but I decided to seek out the answer to this question myself. Is food strictly for nourishment or is it something more?

Terms of the experiment

  1. I will cook and eat “good” food for 5 days
  2. I will eat rice, beans, grains, and oatmeal for the next 5 days


When life is filled with such craziness, meals are one of the only constants. Meals give structure to each day. Breakfast and dinner bookend the day. …

The what, where, when, who, how, and why to having real conversations

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Photo by Joshua Ness on Unsplash

I’ve recently decided that having authentic conversations with strangers is one of the most meaningful parts of life. Because of this, I’ve been actively working on creating more authentic conversations in my life.

As someone who hates small talk, a medical student who gets to ask very real questions to patients, TeaWithStrangers host, single-person who goes on a decent amount of dates, and a lover of good conversations, I have compiled my top list of tips to create authentic conversations.

1. What is Authentic Conversation?

An authentic conversation is one of the peaks of human experiences. It is engaging with other individuals about the “bigger” topics of life — past, future, relationships, love, happiness, death, society, and self. …

Making the right decision is hard..

In this weird time of uncertainty, we all have big decisions to make. Should I find a new job? How should I spend my extra free time? Should I enter/leave this relationship? I hope this article will provide you some additional insights into how to make these big decisions.

I recently decided to take the riskiest career decision of my life. I’m taking a year “off” from the school pipeline. Or as I like to call it, a year “on.” …

A non-creative trying to become “Creative” in 7 days

I’m never sure what superlatives or descriptors should go after my name, but I certainly would not put my name anywhere near artist, photographer, or creative human-being. To give some more context about myself, I’m still salty I got a B+ on my 6th-grade ceramics final exam. Anyways…

I am, however, into trying new things. One of my good friends and street photographer, ERICKIM, is always challenging me to tap into my “creative” potential. So, I decided to take up street photography for 7 days to see what I could learn. Here are my seven takeaways:

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1. I became more “present” to the moment… and happier

I felt like my life upgraded from 360p to 4K. At my baseline, I’m a person that finds my inside world much more interesting than the outside world. During this week, photography forced me to examine what goes on beyond my head… I felt like I was seeing, hearing, and being. Generally, I was much more in the “zone.” …

Can you find your perfect match through a personality test?

Confession: I love personality tests — Myer’s Briggs. Enneagrams. Big 5. Strengths finder. The Five Love Languages.

Having resulted as a super-logical INTJ, I know there is little scientific evidence to support most of these personality tests, but that doesn’t stop me from obsessing over them.

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Photo by Analia Baggiano on Unsplash

Why do we like personality tests so much?

Personality tests try to capture the essence of the most interesting creatures on Earth — humans!

They make for great conversational fodder during dates or with close friends. Talking about personality is a light-hearted conversation that disguises many deeper themes about self, soul, and spirit.

“What types of people do you get along with the best? — Out of us, who do you think is more [personality trait]? — What’s your love language? — Do you believe in personality tests?” …

How to gain more knowledge and internalize more from the books, podcasts, and videos you watch.

We consume a lot. We internalize very little.

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The last non-fiction book I read was around ~500 pages long. When someone asked me for my opinion about the book, I struggled to put together a few sentences. I remember its broad thesis. I remembered how the book made me feel and my opinion of it. After reading this book for ~20 hours, how could I struggle to recall a simple paragraph about the book’s main argument?

The last educational YouTube video I watched was about the Rise of Chick-Fil-A in the United States. …

Scrapping pieces before they see the light of day?

I still remember the moment before I posted my first blog post. My heart raced, my breaths quickened, and I felt a weird sense of impending doom. I have felt a similar sense of visceral anxiety public speaking before large audiences, but I had never felt it alone, sitting in front of my computer.

“The Voice” started to get louder. It kept telling me:

  • “My writing is not good enough.”
  • “I’m not an expert in this topic.”
  • “What if someone judges me for writing this piece?”
  • “No one will like this piece.”

If you write, I’m sure you have encountered some of these voices. …

Thoughts on the most stressful period of my life

I just completed one of the most stressful 2 month period of my life. For the last two months, stress woke me up at 6:00AM and motivated me to study for my medical board exam until bedtime. Stress helped me, but also brought me to the brink of tears.

In an attempt to understand this weird bodily response, I’ve read up all that I could about stress in the last few days and want to share a more nuanced view of what stress is and what to make of the avoidable and unavoidable stress in life. …


Jeffrey Lam

Chronic Thinker, Science-Lover and Humanist, Med Student. Writing to ponder big questions and reflect on life.

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