Finally back (once again) to the world of blogging, I thought long and hard what I wanted my first post since my almost six-month hiatus to be like. Definitely not one declaring that I have crawled out from under my rock another time (been there, done that). Instead, I decided to write about something that recently impressed, inspired, and awed me which is why I will talk about Marina Keegan’s book The Opposite of Loneliness.
Published in 2014, the book came out two years after Marina’s tragic death only days after her graduation from Yale. As sad that it is and as shocked I was when I learned of the circumstances, that is not what I want to focus on in this post but rather cherish the amazing work she has left behind.
I’ve got to be honest, reading this collection of both fictional & non-fictional essays written by someone who, unfortunately, did not even turn 23 (!!!), I couldn’t help but be a bit envious. I’ve already mentioned on this little blog that it is one of my biggest dreams to be able to work in writing – in whichever shape or form. Whether for a newspaper or magazine, books, or for TV/film. The only problem: I’m not really convinced that I’ve got what it takes. Or can actually write (well) for that matter. That’s the reason why I picked up The Opposite of Loneliness in the first place; I wanted to see (and compare) what someone my age was capable of producing. Needless to say, I was impressed. Not only is her style fresh, witty, and just simply really good but Keegan also had an incredible knack for assessing what’s going on around her. As a student about to graduate from university this summer I could relate to the stories, plots, and characters she so vividly created. At times, when I marvelled at her ease and confidence, I thought to myself: You’re definitely not as good. Far from it. Though I am not giving up on my dream as of yet I know I’ve got a loooong way to go.
What probably stood out the most for me is Marina’s optimism. Especially the essay which gave the collection its title and was in fact her graduation essay urges to keep a postive outlook on life. Me being the total opposite, a person who tends to concentrate on the negative a little too much, I felt encouraged to read a person my age’s thoughts on exactly the things that worry me. While I’ve come to realise already that I’m definitely not too old for pretty much anthing (in terms of what I can achieve in life), Marina’s heartfelt address to her fellow students was exactly what I needed to give me that last assurance(see quote below).
My advice to all budding writers, students, and lovers of books and literature: go out and get that book. Maybe you won’t connect with it as much as I did but I believe there is something to draw from it for everyone.
It’s now been about three months since my blog post Here & Now and I am happy to say that my outlook on life has changed. Not to say that keeping my spirits up hasn’t been difficult and there have been some low points in between but I’ve finally reached that stage of feeling at ease with how things are going. Little has actually changed, I just seem to “enjoy life more” (as cheesy and clichée as this sounds) simply by taking everything as it comes, day by day. Since focusing on what really matters right now, I find myself to be so much happier.
Also, I’ve learnt quite a bit these past few months. One thing would be that setting yourself goals is only worth it when you’re going to be strategic about their realization. I figured out that one needs a certain amount of willpower, ambition, drive, and dedication to actually achieve one’s big goals (duh) and that always sticking to these is sort of hard. What I’ve come to understand, as well, is that one cannot overlook small goals and achievements just for the sake of the bigger ones: there is a certain order one has to follow. As the saying goes: “Rome was not built in a day”, neither will all your dreams and wishes come true all at once.
With that in mind, I decided to not only think about what I would like to change in the future but what I would like to change now. Today. Asking yourself that question and working towards those minor goals can actually provide really good practice: I now know how to motivate myself to do things that need to be done (it took me 19 years!!!). That feeling after having checked everything off your to-do list is amazing and never fails to brighten my mood.
So, to sum up: my point is that everyone has dreams, hopes, goals they want to see fulfilled/achieved and although one should never lose sight of these, it is crucial to not only work on one’s future but also one’s presence. With the right attitude, even the most mundane, trivial day will seem extraordinary!
Does that happen to you, too, that you are too focused on the future: where you want to be, what you want to do, whom you want to be with? Instead of living in the here and now, I tend to invest all my time and energy into dreaming and thinking about where I want to go and don’t enjoy what I’ve got. Only recently did I realize that this is the wrong way to go about it.
We should, if not enjoy, appreciate life every day; no matter at which point we are. After this occured to me a few weeks ago, I actually felt better. I want to enjoy life right now and not look too far ahead. The future (undoubtedly) will come. There really is no need to rush it – I know, we shouldn’t waste our time, life is short etc. …. but who says that what you’re doing right now is umimportant or trivial?
What has been stressing me out as well are my “life resolutions” aka the list of things I want to achieve. Weirdly enough it feels like I am already running out of time to accomplish most of these, which, of course, is ridiculous. I don’t even want to be able to tick off everything from that list yet: there wouldn’t be anything left to do otherwise.
I always used to say that my life hasn’t really begun yet because I’m not at that (ideal) place yet but that’s not true. My life began 20 years ago.
We never noticed the beauty because we were too busy trying to create it
I feel like we are constantly in quest of happiness. Sometimes so much that we tend to forget about all the good (small) things in life and therefore, we become less and less appreciative. Things like sunshine, nature, laughter, and good conversations (the list is endless) should not be overlooked. They should be savoured.
I used to loooooove New Year’s! As a kid, it was always exciting, I could stay up late; there were fireworks and music and food. When I got older, I would celebrate the ringing in of a new year together with all my high school classmates which was fun. I also happened to have my first kiss on a New Year’s Eve so it’s been a special day to me for a long time. Then things started to change, I quarrelled with many of my classmates (it has gotten so far that I don’t speak to most of them now) and since I’ve graduated most of my friends left for different universities. Feeling lonely and not knowing what to do for the last day of the year, I slowly grew an aversion against it.
The problem is, I (and I believe many others) put too much focus on that one day and sometimes reflecting on a now almost finished year, it leads you to only remember the bad things that have happened: things you didn’t accomplish, personal struggles, fights, death and they all suck. Often I would get caught up in regret over all these things and would instantly assume that it would not change for the better next year but get worse (I know, I am very dramatic – last year I decided to “skip” New Year’s and went to bed before midnight, mainly to prove to myself that I did not consider it an important day, when in reality I so did).
But now I realized that this is wrong. There were good things and although this year might have been especially tough for me, life goes on. To be honest, I just had this realization about an hour ago.
Normally I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions. Partly because I think they are a bit redundant as most people wind up not doing even half of the things they planned to (in my case it would most likely be none) but I vowed to myself just now that this time I (sort of) would. However, I won’t set myself any specific goals (such as by the time of … this and that should have happened/ been done etc) but be more general.
I will try to be more positive. Unfortunately, I’ve always been somewhat of a pessimist and took pride (yes, weird I know) in that “the glass” would always be half empty for me but it has hit me that as I am responsible for my own happiness instead of external factors, I will have to change my state of mind to achieve it. It may sound embarrassing but I do have a “motivation board” hanging in my room and one “meaningful” picture it says “We view the world the way we choose to” – Needless to say until now I’ve mostly ignored it but it’s actually true. If you are not positive, you will not notice or appreciate the good things in life.
So, to wrap it up, I am really looking forward to the new year and wish all of you a Happy New Year and a great New Year’s Eve!!!