KEEGAN: The Opposite of Loneliness

A powerful message to graduates 
By Ashley Niemeier

Marina 2012. Photograph by Joy Shan.

Marina Keegan ‘12. Photograph via Yale Daily News.

In 2012 graduating Yale University senior Marina Keegan was killed in a car crash days after her college commencement ceremony. But a seemingly ordinary college student quickly became a viral sensation when, following her death, Yale Daily News (the University’s student-run newspaper) published an essay written by Keegan.

The piece, entitled “The Opposite of Loneliness,” offers a powerful reflection on the college experience and that great big, utterly terrifying world which comes after a degree is conferred and honors are handed out.

In a style that is at once comical and real, Keegan’s essay manages to capture the heart and soul of the Millennial Generation: its sense of urgency when it comes to making decisions about who to love, what to do and how to do it. And, perhaps more importantly, our generation’s limitless potential and its bright, unfolding future.

Following the popularity of her essay, Simon and Schuster released a volume of her work by the same title as that now legendary essay. I picked up a copy during a visit to Yale in May.

And as I approach my own graduation, I look again at Keegan’s words and am reminded that community does not have to end when a graduate walks out the door. Neither does ‘real life’ have to begin. There is more. There is so much more. (“We’re so young. We’re so young.”)

So to those students graduating, like me, AND to those students who are set to graduate further along in May, there is a word for the opposite of loneliness; it is bravery, it is love, it is hope, and it is strength.