ARTICLES / 21-YEAR-OLD MARINA KEEGAN’S YALE GRADUATION ESSAY WILL CHANGE THE WAY YOU THINK

Marina Keegan. Repeat that name. Remember that name. That name is one you should know. If it wasn’t for a fatal car crash five days after graduating magna cum laude from Yale University, that name would be splashed across book titles and articles written in The New Yorker. Instead, Marina Keegan’s name lives in memories of her family, friends and those who’ve read her collection of essays, “The Opposite of Loneliness”.

Published posthumously, “The Opposite of Loneliness” (read the essay here) is named after her graduation essay and features an introduction by the American author Anne Radioman – one of Keegan’s professors at Yale. It quickly became a New York Times bestseller,  with columnist Nicholas Kristof hailing it “a triumph” and urging readers to reflect on what they really want from life.

The single essay, written for the Yale Daily News, went viral just days before her death, receiving more than 1.4 million hits in ninety-eight different countries.

Its description reads, “even though she was just twenty-two when she died, Marina left behind a rich, expansive trove of prose that, like her title essay, captures the hope, uncertainty, and possibility of her generation. The Opposite of Loneliness is an assem­blage of Marina’s essays and stories that, like The Last Lecture, articulates the universal struggle that all of us face as we figure out what we aspire to be and how we can harness our talents to make an impact on the world.”

It’s time we took the advice of this profound and amazing young woman who, if she had lived, would have affected us all with her words.

“What we have to remember is that we can still do anything. We can change our minds. We can start over.”

“We’re so young. We can’t, we MUST not loose this sense of possibility because in the end, it’s all we have.”

“We don’t have a word for the opposite of loneliness, but if we did, I could say that’s what I want in life.”

“I want enough time to be in love with everything.”

“We’re so young. We’re so young. We’re twenty-two years old. We have so much time. There’s this sentiment I sometimes sense, creeping in our collective conscious as we lie alone after a party, or pack up our books when we give in and go out – that it is somehow too late. That others are somehow ahead. More accomplished, more specialized. More on the path to somehow saving the world, somehow creating or inventing or improving. That it’s too late now to BEGIN a beginning and we must settle for continuance, for commencement.”

“We have these impossibly high standards and we’ll probably never live up to our perfect fantasies of our future selves.”

“I blame the Internet. Its inconsiderate inclusion of everything.Success is transparent and accessible, hanging down where it can tease but not touch us. We talk into these scratchy microphones and take extra photographs but I still feel like there are just SO MANY PEOPLE. Every day, 1,035.6 books are published; sixty-six million people update their status each morning. At night, aimlessly scrolling, I remind myself of elementary school murals. One person can make a difference! But the people asking me what I want to be when I grow up don’t want me to make a poster anymore. They want me to fill out forms and hand them rectangular cards that say HELLO THIS IS WHAT I DO.”

“We just battle time.”

“I finally understood the addiction of self-deprivation.”

“I’m trying to figure out if I love art enough to be poor.”

“I feel like we can do something really cool to this world. And I fear – at twenty-three, twenty-four, twenty-five – we might forget.”

“Of course I don’t want to be a consultant,” she said the night before, clutching a borrowed copy of Marc Conentino’s Case in point (the aspiring-consultant bible). It’s just very scary to watch as many of your friends have already secured six-figure salaries and are going to be living in luxury next year. I’m trying to figure out if I love art enough to be poor.”

2 THOUGHTS
  1. The Opposite Of Loneliness Official
    October 31, 2016 @ 11:10 am Reply

    Thank you for taking the time to share Marina’s work with the world. We’re happy to see that her name won’t be forgotten.

    • Lauren Martin
      Words of Women
      October 31, 2016 @ 11:39 am Reply

      Thank you for your kind words. Marina will never be forgotten as long as we can read her amazing words. We’d love to feature more of her, if you have any other essays or information, feel free to send our way!

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