Life Personal

Beyond Excuses: Lessons from a 22-Year-Old


I’ve been making excuses lately.

Excuses for not writing blog posts, for not starting in on a piece, for not beginning to touch on subjects that I yearn to write about.

I searched through a bookstore for some creative nonfiction recently, and came across The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan. As I made my way to the halfway mark this morning, I found that I was brought to tears by both her fictional essay, “Reading Aloud,” and her own personal story. Marina Keegan was an English student at Yale University, a mere 20 minutes away from my home, so I was instantly intrigued. I read the back cover and was shocked to find her birth year and passing year to be so close–she had passed away at 22 years old.

Marina Keegan

As I’ve been making my way through her book, I have realized that I have just as much in me as this woman did: as much of an ability to write, to put myself out there, and to succeed in reaching people with my writing. Marina was incredibly driven; from writing to her day-to-day life, she found purpose in everything. She reminds me very much of myself.

The fact that Marina’s life was cut short brings me to tears. She did so much with her time here, and my brief glimpse into her life has made me realize a few important things.

My Writing is My Writing

There is no “right time” to start on a piece of writing. I need to embrace when I am feeling inspired and inspire myself when I’m in a rut. My writing is my writing, and I have complete control over its prevalence in my life. It is my decision to write, and I must make that positive decision a priority. Why would I ever make excuses to escape doing what I love?

Openness Brings Opportunity

As I’ve been searching for jobs, I have seen that opening myself up to new experiences has brought so many opportunities my way. People are coming to me asking if I would be interested in a position! It may sound hippy-crunchy-granola to you, but putting this open and positive energy into the world can only bring good things, and it has. I’m very sure Marina lived her life this way, and had so much fulfilling success in her life because of it.

Fulfillment Is Not Black and White

In the face of an author lecturing to students about how making it as a writer these days is “virtually impossible,” Marina stood up in defiance, asking if he really meant it. She was determined to be a writer–she saw no other option but to follow her passion. While I believe in doing what I have to do to pay the bills, I am finding more of a balance in my work/writing/personal lives by going for jobs that do not overtake my mental space. I am happier now than I ever was in a full-time, concentrated “career.” I am more confident and feel fulfilled, and am slowly figuring out that fulfillment doesn’t have to come from making my career my life.

Marina spent her 22 years making the most of every single moment. She was conscious of the time she had on earth, and stopped at nothing to take her passion into her own hands. The world is a hardened place, but it really is up to all of us to keep ourselves passionate, no matter what our passions are. These are our lives; there shouldn’t be any hesitation to live them.

Buy Marina’s book, The Opposite of Loneliness, from an indie bookstore near you!