the opposite of loneliness

University | 3:10 a.m. | May. 27, 2012 | By Marina Keegan

KEEGAN: The Opposite of Loneliness

Marina Keegan Yale Class of 2012 – died at age 22

Marina Keegan ’12. Photo by Facebook.

The piece below was written by Marina Keegan ’12 for a special edition of the News distributed at the class of 2012’s commencement exercises last week. Keegan died in a car accident on Saturday. She was 22.

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. What I’m grateful and thankful to have found at Yale, and what I’m scared of losing when we wake up tomorrow and leave this place.

It’s not quite love and it’s not quite community; it’s just this feeling that there are people, an abundance of people, who are in this together. Who are on your team. When the check is paid and you stay at the table. When it’s four a.m. and no one goes to bed. That night with the guitar. That night we can’t remember. That time we did, we went, we saw, we laughed, we felt. The hats.

Yale is full of tiny circles we pull around ourselves. A cappella groups, sports teams, houses, societies, clubs. These tiny groups that make us feel loved and safe and part of something even on our loneliest nights when we stumble home to our computers — partner-less, tired, awake. We won’t have those next year. We won’t live on the same block as all our friends. We won’t have a bunch of group-texts.

This scares me. More than finding the right job or city or spouse – I’m scared of losing this web we’re in. This elusive, indefinable, opposite of loneliness. This feeling I feel right now.

But let us get one thing straight: the best years of our lives are not behind us. They’re part of us and they are set for repetition as we grow up and move to New York and away from New York and wish we did or didn’t live in New York. I plan on having parties when I’m 30. I plan on having fun when I’m old. Any notion of THE BEST years comes from clichéd “should haves…” “if I’d…” “wish I’d…”

Of course, there are things we wished we did: our readings, that boy across the hall. We’re our own hardest critics and it’s easy to let ourselves down. Sleeping too late. Procrastinating. Cutting corners. More than once I’ve looked back on my High School self and thought: how did I do that? How did I work so hard? Our private insecurities follow us and will always follow us.

But the thing is, we’re all like that. Nobody wakes up when they want to. Nobody did all of their reading (except maybe the crazy people who win the prizes…) We have these impossibly high standards and we’ll probably never live up to our perfect fantasies of our future selves. But I feel like that’s okay.

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 lay 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.

When we came to Yale, there was this sense of possibility. This immense and indefinable potential energy – and it’s easy to feel like that’s slipped away. We never had to choose and suddenly we’ve had to. Some of us have focused ourselves. Some of us know exactly what we want and are on the path to get it; already going to med school, working at the perfect NGO, doing research. To you I say both congratulations and you suck.

For most of us, however, we’re somewhat lost in this sea of liberal arts. Not quite sure what road we’re on and whether we should have taken it. If only I had majored in biology…if only I’d gotten involved in journalism as a freshman…if only I’d thought to apply for this or for that…

What we have to remember is that we can still do anything. We can change our minds. We can start over. Get a post-bac or try writing for the first time. The notion that it’s too late to do anything is comical. It’s hilarious. We’re graduating college. We’re so young. We can’t, we MUST not lose this sense of possibility because in the end, it’s all we have.

In the heart of a winter Friday night my freshman year, I was dazed and confused when I got a call from my friends to meet them at EST EST EST. Dazedly and confusedly, I began trudging to SSS, probably the point on campus farthest away. Remarkably, it wasn’t until I arrived at the door that I questioned how and why exactly my friends were partying in Yale’s administrative building. Of course, they weren’t. But it was cold and my ID somehow worked so I went inside SSS to pull out my phone. It was quiet, the old wood creaking and the snow barely visible outside the stained glass. And I sat down. And I looked up. At this giant room I was in. At this place where thousands of people had sat before me. And alone, at night, in the middle of a New Haven storm, I felt so remarkably, unbelievably safe.

We don’t have a word for the opposite of loneliness, but if we did, I’d say that’s how I feel at Yale. How I feel right now. Here. With all of you. In love, impressed, humbled, scared. And we don’t have to lose that.

We’re in this together, 2012. Let’s make something happen to this world.


by jennifer kiley
(follow to the next post: “this is all too familiar” and it will help to understand why i choose to exhibit this post. thank you.)

the opposite of loneliness is to have an open heart, and to let love in freely and continuously, no matter the pain that the joy of love can bring.

RIP all those who are taken too soon. who do not get to live out a full and complete life. who knows what would have been that can never be?

forever young – alphaville

6 thoughts on “the opposite of loneliness

  1. I read this and your follow on: This is all too familiar. How devastating when beautiful lives are cut short. Your description of what happened to you and your friend on June 3rd is heart-rending. I hope, when my next book comes out: Exaltation of A Rose, it may have some solace in it about Death. I do believe that someone worked a black spell. I have had experience of that, and know how powerful it can be.


    • she was a profound and mystical woman with a magnetism that drew the butterflies and the moths. her flame burned bright and then exploded before it would ever have burnt out. losing her in the way it happened was having my soul ripped from my astral plane. you understand what caused her death. it usually sounds like madness to most, even some therapists. it was powerful and created from an evil source. Exaltation of a Rose, as a title, creates an imagery of the mysterious. i would like to read it and see how you will incorporate a solace in it about Death. dying young has become an obsession with me. it is devastating, even if there was a fore-warning in both our dreams. the symbolism that surrounded us, it was all quite eerie, the sense of impending destruction that started following us. thank you for your sensitivity and the power of your words. they have touched my heart where the pain lives. writing about this experience helps to release some of the demons that surround it to this day. i am far away from those people but i feel the story must be remembered. my therapist had me write about this recently but instead of the real ending, she had me change it to how i would have liked it to have turned out. she liked the way i rewrote the ending. but happy endings cannot happen after something has been frozen in time. i call it – FATAL INSTANT: The moment something radically changes. There’s an element of irreversability where you cannot go back in time.” love & namaste, jennifer


      • i wanted to add something i consider to be a positive aspect. i feel i was brought into her life to be a guide. our relationship always felt spiritually connected. i helped her through the ending of her life by helping her to understand what was happening. i tried to interpret her dreams for her and the signs and symbols that were surrounding her. i guided her after her death. i must say, though, while reading The Tibetan Book of the Dead, i would enter into the most frightening dreams that were exactly like the images described in the book. it horrified me that she would have to travel through these places. i was so frightened for her. later on, she came to me in my dreams. the first one, she asked me where she was and what had happened. in the dream i had to tell her that she had died. i believe this gave her a sense of understanding and relief. the place she was at in the dream was a black space but i could see her clearly, as though she exuded her own light. i have always felt a connection to her from the first moment my eyes were drawn to her across a crowded room and the path we were on through entering each other’s lives; through her death and after and into this very day. it is good to write this out and remember. recenty, i lost the only photo i had of her. what significance there is in that, i am not sure. at first, it made me frantic to find it but it is lost forever. now she continues to live only in my mind, heart and soul. namaste, jennifer


  2. I must reply to both of your comments. Firstly, I am truly shocked that the therapist asked you to rewrite the ending. You are kidding, surely? Therapy goes to Hollywood? This is an insult against the soul. I hold no respect for that method of ridiculousness posing as therapy. It is another aspect of The Frankenstein myth: you can recreate yourself and be anything you wan to be. Living in a fantasy world is not a therapeutic path, just a more confusing one, as your troubled feelings are still troubled; your heart still bleeding. There is no transformation in this, only a monstrous, soulless brainwashing.

    You did EVERYTHING you could for your friend. And I can tell you, she is NOT in a dark place now. But you need to complete the journey with her. It was a journey meant for both of you…And I do not mean physical death for you! I mean the conscious journey into the mystery of death. You need to know about this and say goodbye properly. Whenever a life is cut short like that; the shock keeps the astral body lingering. That is sad and should be come to terms with by both of you. I have a hunch that much of your ongoing suffering stems from this traumatic event. Not just her astral body lingered, Yours too is held in that moment, in a state of shock, loss and grief. It is wise for both of you to release her properly. I am shy to offer, but I can help with this matter. If you like, contact me. I hope I have not suggested something that crosses boundaries, just oceans..

    P.s. I am sorry this is not under your relevant post.


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