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7 Powerful Life Lessons We Can Learn From The Writer Who Died Young – Marina Keegan

7 Powerful Life Lessons We Can Learn From The Writer Who Died Young – Marina Keegan

Untimely death is always tragic. When the promise of tomorrow is cut short, the one who passes away leaves their loved ones to pick up the pieces of their broken hearts and try to carry on with life. While this may be a major fear of just about everyone on the planet, there are powerful lessons that can be learned when it happens.

Here is one example.

Her name was Marina Keegan

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She was an aspiring writer who might have been able to be compared to someone like Maya Angelou one day. But Marina was killed in a car accident only 5 days after she graduated from Yale University. Words from her final essay in the Yale Daily News went viral after her untimely death:

“We don’t have a word for the opposite of loneliness, but if we did, I could say that’s what I want it life.”

What Marina accomplished in her short life is beyond extraordinary. She was going to begin an internship at The New Yorker and have a play of hers produced at an international film festival. She won numerous awards and critical acclaim. Her book The Opposite of Loneliness was published on April 8, 2014, almost two years after her death over Memorial day weekend 2012. And this is just a small snapshot into the amazing life of Marina Keegan.

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But as tragic as her story is, sometimes human beings learn the most during their darkest hours. So we all can learn from her life and death and carry these 7 lessons with us:

1. Don’t take anything or anyone for granted.

Why is it that people always assume that they have another tomorrow? And why do people sometimes treat their ones with such disrespect? It’s because they take life and people for granted. Yes, it’s easy to do. And yes, we all do it from time to time. But anyone who has every lost a loved one knows that every single day and every single person is precious. So remember that every day – not just when a tragedy happens.

2. You never know when it’s going to be your last day on earth.

We should appreciate and give thanks for every day we have here. Just because you are a young, beautiful, vibrant, ambitious, amazing 22 year old woman like Marina Keegan, that doesn’t make you immune to the fact that your life could be over at any minute. Not that I think you should live in fear, but if you gently remind yourself of that fact every day, then you will appreciate life and your loved ones much more.

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3. Appreciate every breath you take.

Breathing is so easy – except if you have asthma, COPD, emphysema, or some other respiratory ailment. But I’m not talking quite as literally about breathing. However, until you have not been able to breathe, you don’t know what it feels like. Appreciate every breath, every heartbeat, every smile, every day you can walk, and every day you go without pain. Appreciate your health. Appreciate this day. Appreciate everything.

4. Figure out your passion and follow it – don’t wait.

Marina was following her passion. She was a writer and destined for greatness. Let her life be a shining example of what you should become. And don’t worry – it’s never too late. Just because you’re not 22 anymore doesn’t mean that your ship has sailed. Find the courage to do what you love. If you don’t do it now, then you might not ever get the chance. Just like Marina.

5. Remember that loneliness and being alone are two different things.

While I haven’t read her book, I do think her concept of loneliness is an important one for us all to ponder. There are way too many lonely people in the world. But with that said, I think we first need to become our own best friend. For example, one of my friends always says, “I’m the best company I can be with!” And no – he is not egotistical at all. He is the opposite. He just has good self-esteem and genuinely likes himself. So he will never be lonely, even if he is alone.

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6. You impact people more than you think you do.

I bet Marina Keegan had no idea how much her life meant. She probably just thought she was a normal 22 year old who went to college and was following her dreams. But not only has her death impacted millions (myself included because am I writing an article about her now), but her life impacted so many other people as well. So while you might not think that you matter, you do. You matter. People are watching you. So make your message to the world a positive one.

7. You can always leave a legacy – age doesn’t matter.

You don’t have to live to the ripe old age of 90 or 100 to leave your mark on the world. I sure hope I do live that long, but it doesn’t matter how old it is when you die. If you live your life right, follow your passion, be a good, kind, genuine person, then that is all you need to do. Your positive example is enough to leave your footprint on earth after you are gone.

Thank you, Marina, for a life well lived. You did more in your 22 years than most people do in an entire lifetime. Your life mattered. And it’s because of you that we all reframe our own lives and appreciate it infinitely more. We salute and honor you. Your life serves as a model for the rest of us. And that is the ultimate compliment.

RIP, Ms. Keegan.

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Carol Morgan

Dr. Carol Morgan is the owner of HerSideHisSide.com, a communication professor, dating & relationship coach, TV personality, speaker, and author.

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Last Updated on July 8, 2020

How to Say No When You Say Yes Too Often

How to Say No When You Say Yes Too Often

Do you say yes so often that you realize you aren’t really happy about this, wondering how to say no to people?

For years, I was a serial people pleaser. Known as someone who would step up, I would gladly make time especially when it came to volunteering for certain causes. I proudly carried this role all through grade school, college, even through law school. For years, I thought saying “no” meant I would disappoint a good friend or someone I respected.

But somewhere along the way, I noticed I wasn’t quite living my life. Instead, I seem to have created a schedule that was a strange combination of meeting the expectations of others, what I thought I should be doing, and some of what I actually wanted to do. The result? I had a packed schedule that left me overwhelmed and unfulfilled.

It took a long while but I learned the art of saying no. Saying ‘no’ meant I no longer catered fully to everyone else’s needs and could make more room for what I really wanted to do. Instead of cramming too much in, I chose to pursue what really mattered. I started to manage my time more around my own needs and interests. When that happened, I became a lot happier. And guess what? I hardly disappointed anyone.

The Importance of Saying No

When you learn the art of saying ‘no,’ you begin to look at the world differently. Rather than seeing all of the things you could or should be doing (and aren’t doing), you start to look at how to say yes to what’s important.

In other words, you aren’t just reacting to what life throws at you. You seek the opportunities that move you to where you want to be.

Successful people aren’t afraid to say no. Oprah Winfrey considered one of the most successful women in the world confessed that it was much later in life when she learned how to say no. Even after she had become internationally famous, she felt she had to say yes to virtually everything. It was only when she realized that after years of struggling with saying no, I finally got to this question: “What do I want?”

Being able to say no also helps you manage your time better.

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Warren Buffett views no as essential to his success. He said,

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

When I made ‘no’ a part of my toolbox, I drove more of my own success focusing on fewer things and doing them well.

How We Are Pressured to Say Yes

It’s no wonder a lot of us find it hard to say ‘no.’

From an early age, we are conditioned to say ‘yes.’ We said yes probably hundreds of time in order to graduate from high school and then get into college. We said yes to find work. We said yes get a promotion. We said yes to find love and then yes again to stay in a relationship. We said yes to find and keep friends.

We say yes because it feels better to help someone. We say yes because it can seem like the right thing to do. We say yes because we think that is key to success. And we say yes because the request might come from someone who is hard to resist like the boss.

And that’s not all. The pressure to say yes doesn’t just come from others. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves. At work, we say yes because we compare ourselves to others who seem to be doing more than we are. Outside of work, we say yes because we feel guilty we aren’t doing enough to spend time with family or friends.

The message no matter where we turn is nearly always, “You really could be doing more.” The result? When people ask us for our time, we are heavily conditioned to say yes.

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How to Say No Without Feeling Guilty

Deciding to add the word ‘no’ to your toolbox is no small thing. Perhaps you already say ‘no’ but not as much as you would like. Maybe you have an instinct that if you were to learn the art of ‘no’ that you could finally create more time for things you care about. But let’s be honest, using the word ‘no’ doesn’t come easily for many people.

The 3 Rules of Thumbs for Saying No

1. You Need to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Let’s face it. It is hard to say no. Setting boundaries around your time especially you haven’t done it much in the past will feel awkward.

2. You Are the Air Traffic Controller of Your Time

Remember that you are the only one who understands the demands for your time. Think about it, who else knows about all of the demands on your time? No one. Only you are at the center of all of these requests. are the only one that understands what time you really have.

3. Saying ‘No’ Means Saying ‘Yes’ to Something That Matters

When we decide not to do something, it means we can say yes to something else. You have a unique opportunity to decide how you spend your precious time.

6 Ways to Start Saying No

Incorporating that little word ‘no’ into your life can be transformational. Turning some things down will mean you can open doors to what really matters. Here are some essential tips to learn the art of no:

1. Check in With Your Obligation Meter

One of the biggest challenges to saying ‘no’ is a feeling of obligation. Do you feel you have a responsibility to say yes and worry that saying no reflect poorly on you?

Ask yourself whether you truly have the duty to say yes. Check your assumptions or beliefs about whether you carry the responsibility to say yes. Turn it around and instead ask what duty you owe to yourself.

2. Resist the Fear of Missing out (FOMO)

Do you have a fear of missing out (FOMO)? FOMO can follow us around in so many ways. At work, we volunteer our time because we fear we won’t move ahead. In our personal lives, we agree to join the crowd because FOMO even while we ourselves aren’t enjoying the fun.

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Check in with yourself. Are you saying yes because of FOMO or because you really want to say yes? More often than not, running after fear doesn’t make us feel better.

3. Check Your Assumptions About What It Means to Say ‘No’

Do you dread the reaction you will get if you say no? Often, we say ‘yes’ because we worry about how others will respond or the consequences of saying no or because of the consequences. We may be afraid to disappoint others or think we will lose respect from others. We often forget how much we are disappointing ourselves along the way.

Keep in mind that saying ‘no’ can be exactly what is needed to send the right message that you have limited time. In the tips below, you will see how to communicate your no in a gentle and loving way. You might disappoint someone initially but drawing a boundary can bring you the freedom you need so that you can give freely of yourself when you truly want to.

4. When the Request Comes In, Sit on It

Sometimes, when we are in the moment, we instinctively agree. The request might make sense at first. Or we typically have said yes to this request in the past.

Give yourself a little time to reflect on whether you really have the time, or can do the task properly. You may decide the best option is to say ‘no.’ There is no harm in giving yourself the time to decide.

5. Communicate Your ‘No’ with Transparency and Kindness

When you are ready to tell someone no, communicate your decision clearly. The message can be open and honest to ensure the recipient that your reasons have to do with your limited time.

Resist the temptation not to respond or communicate all. But do not feel obligated to provide a lengthy account about why you are saying no.

A clear communication with a short explanation is all that is needed. I have found it useful to tell people that I have many demands and need to be careful with how I allocate my time. I will sometimes say I really appreciate that they came to me and for them to check in again if the opportunity arises another time.

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6. Consider How to Use a Modified ‘No’

If you are under pressure to say yes but want to say no, you may want to consider downgrading a “yes” to a “yes but…” giving you an opportunity to condition your agreement to what works best for you.

Sometimes, the condition can be to do the task but not in the time frame that was originally requested. Or perhaps you can do part of what has been asked.

Final Thoughts

Beginning right now, you can change how you respond to requests for your time. When the request comes in, take yourself off autopilot where you might normally say yes.

Use the request as a fresh request to draw a healthy boundary around your time. Pay particular attention to when you place certain demands on yourself. If you are the one placing the demand on yourself, try to evaluate the demand as if it were coming from somewhere else.

Try it now. Say no to a friend who continues to take advantage of your goodwill. Or, draw the line with a workaholic colleague and tell them you will complete the project but not by working all weekend. Or, tell someone in your family you can’t loan them money again because they never paid you back the last time. You’ll find yourself much happier.

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Featured photo credit: Chris Ainsworth via unsplash.com

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