The first time I read The Opposite of Loneliness I cried. It wasn’t because of Marina Keegan’s writing (although her understanding and execution of the written word is undeniable) it was because of myself—or rather, in spite of myself.
In 22 years Keegan’s list of accomplishments read like an all-star roster. She had attended Yale, earned a job at The New Yorker, wrote a play that was to be produced at the New York International Fringe Festival, and had written an essay that was viewed over a million times online.
Think about that, over a million people heard her voice.
Whether it was from glowing computer screens, on a finicky tablet, a zoomed-in smartphone, or on the Yale Daily News website—Keegan was able to tell a story that resonated with millions of people in over 98 different countries.
And so, I cried. I cried because I was 25 and my list of accolades was far shorter than hers. I cried because I wasn’t 22. I cried because she was gone and I was here. I cried because I was jealous.
That’s a twisted revelation, I know, but it’s true. She had three less years in this world than me and yet she had accomplished far more with her literary craft than I ever had (or maybe ever will). I wanted that.
That afternoon I sulked around my house, my self-aware self-hatred seeping in until late that evening when I revisited Keegan’s essay in the dim lighting of my bedroom.
“What we have to remember is that we can still do anything.”
This sentence washed over me. It filled in all the holes of anxiety and dread. It patched the cracks of insecurity and regret. I turned off my light and dog-eared my page. I settled in under the covers and cried—this time, out of happiness.
I’m not sure what I want to do. I have a Bachelor’s Degree and a college Certificate, I’ve been an intern three times, I’ve written a full-length feature film, short films, short stories, and poetry, I’ve travelled to 14 countries and lived n 3, I’ve crowd surfed and skydived; but I still live at home, I still depend (largely) on my parents, I am still single, I still have panic attacks, I still get anxious about the future, and I still have to remind myself that I can do anything. We all do.