I stole this title from the brilliant Marina Keegan, a 2012 graduate from Yale. She planned to work at The New Yorker when she left school. Then, she died in a car accident five days after her graduation ceremony.
In part, my words are written to honor her, to say thank you for the best description of the opposite of loneliness: “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.”
Yes, that’s the thing I feel. Thank you, Marina.
But there’s another thing I feel. Because loneliness tags along with its opposite. There are the days I feel like I’m more than me. Then there are pockets of time, seconds or minutes or months, in which I forget what “we” feels like. I bet everyone feels loneliness and its opposite. I assume you experience more of one than the other.
And that’s OK. College is like boot camp for feelings. You’ll feel tired yet more awake than you’ve ever felt before. You’ll hate some professors, and you’ll thank others for saving your life. You’ll feel the rush of a kiss, and you’ll feel the rush of a missed opportunity. You’ll feel loneliness and its opposite.
And then there’s apathy. You can’t feel it because it’s the absence of feeling. Unlike loneliness and its opposite, I think apathy kills because it avoids, ignores and stuffs your feelings down deep. Eventually, you can’t be apathetic. The feelings will make their way out.
I think now, the present, is the perfect time to feel your feelings. To cry, to smile, to laugh, to grimace and to make yourself vulnerable.
My worst times were never when I felt lonely. They were when I pretended to feel its opposite. I guess that’s what my clarion call is all about: do not pretend. Feel what you actually feel.
I don’t mean for you to wallow, of course. I want you to take the precious time you have to treat your heart with some respect. Let it feel.
You could wait to feel. But the future as we experience it is uncertain.
Marina’s future was tragically cut short, and there’s no good explanation for it. But her story does not have to implant fear. It should give you courage.
The courage to feel. Today. Now.
Mitchell East is a senior Biblical text major from Austin.