It’s hard to articulate my experience at John Carroll University in a single word or sentence. During my time at Carroll, I have been overwhelmed with feelings of belonging, community, love and happiness; but none of these words do justice to the splendor of being a Blue Streak for the past four years. I can’t express the exhilarating feeling of running a track race through a tunnel of cheering teammates, or the pride my peers and I felt the day we passed Dr. Brossmann’s argument and debate class or the peaceful, joyous feeling of celebrating 9 p.m. mass with my fellow students. I can’t seem to form words to describe the comfort of knowing your best friend is just down the hall and you can lie on their bed and eat M&M’s and complain about your problems until 2 a.m. It’s here that words fail me.
Marina Keegan might not be a name that means a lot to most people, but to me, this is a girl who was able to eloquently say what I struggle with. Keegan graduated from Yale University in 2012 and was tragically killed in a car accident five days after her commencement ceremony. She was a promising, young writer and wrote the essay entitled “The Opposite of Loneliness” for graduation. When reflecting upon her own college experience, Keegan writes, “We don’t have a word for the opposite of loneliness, but if we did, I could say that’s what I want in life. What I’m grateful and thankful to have found at Yale, and what I’m scared of losing when we wake up tomorrow and leave this place.”
I couldn’t agree more. Being at JCU has been a whirlwind of feeling “the opposite of loneliness.” This might be partly because I am constantly surrounded by people; but even when I’m alone, I’m never really lonely because I know how much I am loved and cared for by my JCU family. I am in constant awe of the people I have met here and their talents and strengths. We all know that JCU is a special place and I’d venture to say that 99 percent of that is because of the men and women that walk through the campus each and every day.
Similarly to Keegan, I too am afraid of leaving. I hid my graduation cap and gown because I don’t want to look at it. I refuse to pack up anything until after commencement and the sheer thought of college being over makes my stomach drop and my eyes well up with tears. I don’t want to lose my view of the Admin Tower or the beauty of campus on a sunny day. What will I do when I can’t call Cabbie D for a ride or spend Sunday morning having brunch at Eat at Joe’s with my favorite people? Change is always scary, but this is utterly terrifying.
So, with graduation quickly approaching, I reflect upon the fact that my life is about to transform into something completely different. When I move to Pittsburgh this summer, I might indeed be lonely. I’m leaving behind my family, my best friends, the boy that I love: the people that make me feel the opposite of loneliness. I’m embarking on an exciting new journey, but at the same time, it’s frightening to think I might not feel as safe and at home as I do at Carroll.
I suppose I should end this with some bit of advice to the underclassmen. I’m not super wise and sometimes I make really dumb decisions, but I have learned a few things. First, cherish every last bit of it. It’s okay to wish away the homework, tests and papers, but don’t you dare forget to remind yourself how lucky you are to be in such an incredible and supportive environment. Second, don’t overstress yourself. Stay driven, word hard, but don’t sweat the small stuff because it only wastes time. Lastly, love the people you love. Smother them with it. Remind them constantly of how much better your life is because they are in it; because it’s so much better living life feeling the opposite of loneliness.