What "The Opposite of Loneliness" Taught Me About Life & University

The Essay that Inspired Me to Get Serious about Being an Educational Administration Researcher

What is “The Opposite of Loneliness”?

In grad school, one of my profs gave us this advice if we ever felt stuck with our research: have some go-to texts that bring us inspiration to help us “see above the weeds”.

The essay, “The Opposite of Loneliness” by Marina Keegan, is that text for me.

First published in Yale Daily News on May 27, 2012, just days after Marina Keegan tragically passed away, this essay has since been published in the New York Times Bestseller collection of essays and stories of Keegan’s work.

Haven’t read this essay yet? Visit the Yale Daily News website to read it!

I’ve never read anything that quite captures the feeling of being in university like this essay does.

If you’re reading this, chances are you spend most of your time in a university, around others who are learning, researching, teaching, and administering. There’s something almost magical about being in this kind of environment and it’s almost impossible for us who feel at home here, to ever leave.

I could never explain why I was drawn to university, both as a student and as a university employee. I think it’s because for me, university has been a constant in my life. It’s a place where you’ll be challenged, both emotionally and intellectually, and a place to find your passion. I did not expect to find it and for it to be educational administration research. For me, the only way to describe it is the opposite of loneliness.

It’s not quite love and it’s not quite community; it’s just this feeling that there are people, an abundance of people, who are in this together.
— Marina Keegan, The Opposite of Loneliness
photo by me

photo by me

Lessons Learned

When Marina wrote this essay, she was an accomplished student with a promising career as a writer. Sadly, she passed away in a car accident, and her essay and a subsequent book with the same title was published posthumously. In this essay she writes that “we’re so young . . . we have so much time”. But the truth is, we never know how much time we have.

Not to get too morbid, but this is it. Sometimes, we need to be brave and take chances, both in university and in life. There’s no better time to get started on that thing you’ve been putting off than right now.

My biggest lesson learned is not to put off the thing you’ve been wanting to do, one minute longer.

For me, that thing is trying to publish a research article. I don’t know where to start and so I’m procrastinating because of that uncertainty. But I know I can always ask for help or advice from others who have done it.

What is that thing you’ve been putting off? Maybe it’s applying to a graduate program or deciding to finally start writing that book you’ve been thinking about for years. Or maybe you want to explore a career change, to teaching, or to administration.

Whatever it is, don’t put it off another day. Take a step, however small. Right now. Make the decision you’re going to go for it and then figure everything else out along the way.

And if your goal is to do research in the field of educational administration & leadership, then I have some ideas to get you started!

What we have to remember is that we can still do anything. We can change our minds. We can start over. . . . We’re so young. We can’t, we MUST not lose this sense of possibility because in the end, it’s all we have.
— Marina Keegan, The Opposite of Loneliness

Start Today

Here are a few actionable steps you can take right now to pursue being an educational administration (or any kind) of researcher:

  • Sign out a book on educational administration or a topic you want to learn more about at your university or local library.

  • Research an educational administration graduate program.

  • Write a blog post on your experiences in research and university.

  • Write an outline for an article you want to submit to a journal.

  • Sign up for a free Twitter account and use #AcademicTwitter to connect to other academics with similar interests. Don’t be afraid to share your doubts, experiences, and ask questions!

For more information on Marina Keegan and the book “The Opposite of Loneliness”, please visit theoppositeofloneliness.com.

What have you been putting off? What step will you take to get you closer to your goals today? Let me know in the comments below!