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May 30, 2012

We're So Young

Every once in awhile, you come across a story or a piece of news that just hits you.

For me this week, it was the death of 22-year-old Yale University graduate Marina Keegan who wrote this article for a special edition of the Yale Daily News that was distributed to her fellow graduates at Commencement.

Go read it, then come back.

Marina graduated from Yale on Monday, May 20. She had accepted a job with The New Yorker and was on her way to have dinner with her family when the car that she and her boyfriend were in struck a guardrail in Cape Cod and she was killed.

I'm not sure why Marina's death struck me the way that it did. The sad reality is that young 20-somethings are killed every day. Maybe it's the fact that I just graduated and her article resounded all too well with me. Maybe it's this odd conundrum I'm facing with suddenly being roped into the same category as other 22-year-olds, despite being 3 years their senior. Maybe it's her beautiful way with words and the haunting sentences she used like "...what I'm scared of losing when we wake up tomorrow and leave this place" or, "We're so young...we have so much time."

..."We have so much time." Haunting right?

Marina was scared. Rightfully so. Who isn't at 22 when you're standing on one side of a stage a college kid who maybe stayed up too late partying the night before, waiting to cross over this stage that somehow represents a transition into adulthood? Hell, never mind being 22. How about being 25 with a brand new Master's degree and the nagging feeling of having nothing to show for it? Or being 28 faced with the difficult decision to be ending your marriage? Or being 32 and trying to decide whether it's time to buckle down and start a family or keep traveling and trying to see the world.

One thing can be said of Marina's tragic death; her words, her advice, which can be suited to any audience, is taking the internet, and the world, by storm. The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Glamour Magazine and The New Yorker, are just some of the major publications that have written about Marina since her passing this Saturday night.

In closing her commencement letter, Marina said, "We can't, we MUST not lose this sense of possibility  because in the end, it's all we have." Little did she know that that sense of possibility that she had, that she wrote about, is having a huge impact on a lot of people. Myself included...and the numerous people that posted about this on Twitter before I read it. It's just unfortunate that it took tragedy to bring light to her words.

In another piece, Marina wrote the following:

"I read somewhere that radio waves just keep traveling outwards, flying into the universe with eternal vibrations. Sometime before I die I think I’ll find a microphone and climb to the top of a radio tower. I’ll take a deep breath and close my eyes because it will start to rain right when I reach the top. Hello, I’ll say to outer space, this is my card."

Marina, I'm not sure if you ever climbed to the top of a radio tower, but I can tell you that those radio waves are definitely flying into the universe.

Whenever someone young passes away unexpectedly, it always strikes a chord. Last winter, a friend I made while living in Boston was killed in a car accident. We hadn't talked in months. I still can't listen to a Pitbull song without thinking about her. Over the summer, a kid I went to high school with died unexpectedly. I had known him pretty well. I played soccer with his sister. My boyfriend was friends with him. I was in India when I found out. I was so upset, I didn't leave the apartment the next day. I didn't even get along with him in high school.

I get angry when people tell me that "I'm sooo young." Yes, I am. Why is that such a bad thing? I am young. And you know what? I'm getting younger every day. When I was 20, I backpacked through Europe. I danced drunk in the Trocadero Fountain in London and climbed the Eiffel Tower and ate escargot. I hiked the Scottish Highlands and won a whiskey drinking competition in Ireland. I want to do all of those things at 60...and I want to be running marathons too. Maybe I will. Maybe I won't. My mom will be retiring in a few years, at 60. Every day for her is filled with ideas of what she's going to do when she grows up. I love that about my mom. Marina was right. We are SO young. It doesn't matter if you're 22, 25 or 57. Be young. Do things that young people do. Don't wait until you're 45 to say, "I really wish I had gone bungee jumping" or "I should have gone to Europe when I had the chance at 27." Go out and do it.

In the words of Marina Keegan, "Let's make something happen to this world." Don't lose the sense of possibility that life presents you with. It doesn't have to be today. It doesn't have to be this weekend. It doesn't even have to be this month, but stop waiting around for the opportune moment to do something that you've always wanted to do because that moment might never come. Life is fleeting. Go out and be young.

Rest in Peace, Marina.

8 comments:

  1. Beautiful. Thank you for posting this.

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  2. Christy, this is a REALLY good post. An excellent reminder. Thanks for sharing.

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  3. Loved your words, and I so definitely agree. 25 or 45... what's the difference? :) Love your writing, thanks for posting!

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  4. Such a beautiful article and a well written blog about it!

    Thank you for this post. It brought me to tears and made me think.

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  5. So tragic! I feel the "older" I get the more scared I get and I start doing less things. I need to stop and be curious and go out there and have fun! A great post and thanks for the reminder. :)

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  6. Very tragic. It is very scary how quickly life can pass us by! By the way - I nominated you A Lovely Blog Award. See my post.

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  7. Your post and her words gave me goosebumps!

    It's so scary that we never know what tomorrow will hold.

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  8. Visiting from Holly's blog. I appreciate this post and am glad to read both Mariana's words and yours. You're right- we never have to feel we're too old to live.

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