A Word on Marina Keegan

Marina Keegan was a recent Yale Graduate who at the age of 22, died in a car crash on the way to her families vacation house. She wrote for the Yale Daily News and wrote a number of notable pieces including Song for the Special, Even Artichokes Have Doubts, and The Opposite of Loneliness

More and more I find myself captivated by Marina Keegan’s beautiful eloquence. Her fantastic command of language. Her flawless diction. But most of all, her artistic vision. I’m bordering on obsessed. The aspiration of any young writer is to be classified as the voice of their generation. That term is extremely confusing. How can we possibly expect one person’s voice to fully encompass the opinions of all races, ethnicities and socioeconomic classes? Perhaps it’s an unfair label. Nevertheless, Keegan so accurately captures the young adult teetering on the edge of adulthood. She perfectly pinpoints the anxiety, the excitement, the fear, the jubilation, the love and the anticipation. She recounts the constant battle between romanticism and pragmatism, the struggle to distinguish ourselves in an increasingly competitive world and the concurrent optimism and fear and doubt that we regard the future with.

She documents our desperate clinging to the innocence of our pasts as we simultaneously prepare ourselves for our unknown futures. Some of the things that she has written undoubtedly struck a chord with every single person who read them. As someone who once resembled a wannabe writer, I often thought my words conveyed both the exhilaration and the apprehension of my generation. In these illusions of grandeur and bouts of manic psychosis I imagined myself speaking for those who are coming of age, just as Kerouac spoke for the Beat Generation. And then I got sober and began thinking more rationally. I gave up these “unrealistic” dreams of a screenwriter or a novelist to focus on more pragmatic pursuits. But Keegan never did that. She maintained this mystical romanticism, she valiantly fought off self-doubt and held fast to dreams that many would scoff at. She completely destroyed the notion that a prerequisite to growing up is abandoning your idealistic and romantic values. She knew what she wanted and she followed it relentlessly. She did everything I wanted to do but was too frightened to go after because I was afraid to fail. If I chased my dreams and failed, then I would be left with nothing. No visions of a greater life, no higher aspirations, no wild fantasies. The possibility was too devastating for me and my self-esteem was too fragile to ever even undertake writing seriously.

So it remains a distant dream, something intangible, illusory. A nice fallback on a gloomy day that promises that things will get better, that I was meant to do greater things in life. But if I take any proactive steps towards achieving my goal, the illusion is shattered. So I settle for mediocrity, and fool myself into thinking that my situation will change or improve if I just patiently wait.

Keegan’s words and her tragic end make me want to give it a second chance. I’ve closed so many doors in my life due to crippling anxieties, burnt relationships and immature and impulsive decisions but her inspiring articles make me want to pry open these doors again. They make me want to say fuck words like “realistic” or “feasibility” or “pragmatism.” And for that, I will be eternally grateful. Keegan made me feel like I wasn’t alone, like other people felt like me and yearned like me. The following F. Scott Fitzgerald quote seems as if it has never been more applicable: “That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you’re not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong.” Keegan died far too young, but through her writings she is able to live on, share her tragically incomplete legacy with others, speak for the silent, inspire and truly fulfill her goal of making a difference in the world. I know she has made a difference for me.

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The Beginning

“Growin up, and that is a terribly hard thing to do. It is much easier to skip it and go from one childhood to another.”
―F. Scott Fitzgerald

In the past I’ve always been hyper-critical about “Blogs” and “Blogging.” I found it quite pretentious, the ramblings of a marginalized group that can’t possibly bear the fact that the world won’t hear their profound ideas. While I wouldn’t necessarily say I’ve changed my belief, nor would I deny the fact that I’m probably included in that aforementioned group, I’ve decided to give blogging a chance.

My intention for this blog isn’t to create some alternate identity far removed from reality that attempts to trick people into thinking my life is great. I don’t want to share with the world my wonderful life and breathtaking experience and oh the places I’ll go (yes it was a Dr. Seuss reference). Actually, on the contrary, this is probably leaning more towards the realm of self-deprecation. I have a quite a fragile sense of self and my life is riddled with irrational anxiety. I’ve become quite accustomed at fooling the world into thinking everything’s ok and the majority of those who know me, or think they know me, merely know the character I play. Few know the real me.  Frankly, this blog goes against every notion of self-preservation I have but I feel like its time to face this fear. This isn’t an attempt to gain pity nor do I find it my duty to report on the plight of the privileged young white male on the cusp of adulthood. This isn’t an American Beauty or Ordinary People expose on how suburbia breeds discontent. Rather, its just a fragment, a snapshot perhaps would be more appropriate, of a coming of age story.

My motivations for writing this blog are rather simple. I’ve experienced what has turned out to be a rather elongated period of depression. My life is characterized by ups and downs but this down appears to be here to stay, at least for now. For the first time since I got sober I feel this gaping void in my life, growing bigger and bigger each day. I’m attempting to use this blog as a medium to both express a semi-satirical dissatisfaction with the current state of my life and share some culture with others. In addition, I’m really quite bored and could use a hobby.

The title of the blog comes from another F. Scott Fitzgerald quote. The full quote is “The compensation of a very early success is a conviction that life is a romantic matter. In the best sense one stays young.” I picked this for a few reasons. The first is the irony as most of what I write is dripping with existentialism. The second is the notion of staying young. This is a time in my life where I’m supposed to be growing up and yet I’m so desperately clinging to this idea of childhood and innocence. Mind you, this isn’t because I had some sort of magical childhood. In truth, my childhood was probably similar to yours, filled with self-doubt, uncertainty, anxiety and confusion. In fact, I repress most of my childhood and my clearest memories don’t start until after I got sober, where I experienced a rebirth so to speak. I cling to my childhood not because I long for it, but because I don’t want to grow up. This is primarily motivated by fear. Fear of failure, fear of responsibility, fear of never being happy. Writing for me is a way to delay the inevitable, a way of blocking the future out, of making it seem so far off that I need not worry about it. Writing makes me feel ok.

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