My Monday must-read this week is short and simple.
The Opposite of Loneliness was an essay written by Marina Keegan for the Yale Daily News shortly before her graduation in May 2012. The essay went viral, in part because Keegan was killed in a crash just five days after she graduated.
Her essay can be found here: http://yaledailynews.com/crosscampus/2012/05/27/keegan-the-opposite-of-loneliness/
I remember reading the essay in 2012. I graduated college at the same time and was feeling a lot of the same emotions Keegan wrote about.
She writes about wanting to find a place in the real world that felt like college, where you just felt surrounded by people and feelings and what can only be described as the opposite of being lonely.
It’s a feeling I think anyone in college can relate to. Being on a college campus is an isolated experience. You’re side-by-side with people who are mostly the same age, going through the same things, with relatively similar interests. You are involved in the same groups, go to the same restaurants and bars, walk the same sidewalks and sit in the same desks.
Even if you’re alone, you’re not really alone.
Until you leave.
Then you’re alone in the real world because everyone goes their separate ways and starts their own lives. That’s not to say friendships end or things completely change, just that they will never be quite like they were on that campus.
When I left my college, I felt this way. I may not have had many friends and even fewer who I keep in touch with regularly now, nearly three years after we left that place, but I felt like I was leaving this great thing and nothing would ever be quite the same.
We have all gone to our separate corners of the globe, most of us working, all of us at different stages in life. And even though there were moments where I was alone on a Friday night in my apartment or dorm room because nobody had invited me to go out and I didn’t want to go looking for my friends, I never felt lonely. There were always other people on that campus and we were all feeling the same insecurities, despite expressing them differently.
Now, when I’m alone on a Friday night in my apartment, there isn’t much I can do. I don’t know my neighbors. They don’t know me. Everyone is in their own little world. And that is exactly the opposite of the opposite of loneliness.
(Keegan’s family created a book with her essay and several other of her writings by the same name. I tried to read it, but nothing quite lived up or resonated with me the same way Opposite of Loneliness did. So, I did the unthinkable cardinal sin of not finishing the book. I didn’t want to ruin my perception of the essay with my judgment of the rest of her work, much of which her family and professors said she wouldn’t have wanted published in the form it was.)