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The opposite of loneliness, revisited

| Friday, May 21, 2021

At the end of my first year at Saint Mary’s, I wrote about a feeling so indefinably special that it could only be explained as the opposite of something else. I borrowed the term from Marina Keegan, whose 2012 Yale Commencement address filled me with a sense of intention and immediacy even before this pandemic taught me to seize the day every day (because nothing more is promised).

For Marina, the opposite of loneliness was “this feeling that there are people, an abundance of people, who are in this together. Who are on your team. When the check is paid and you stay at the table. When it’s 4 a.m. and no one goes to bed. That night with the guitar. That night we can’t remember. That time we did, we went, we saw, we laughed, we felt.”

I felt the opposite of loneliness every time I drove down the Avenue. When someone called my name as we passed each other on Library Green. With every shot “for good luck” before we headed out to the bar. Working page production in the basement of South Dining Hall. On a rushed football field, under the synthetic fog of Newfs and in Party City wigs.

At the start of senior year, my friends and I began to do things simply because we could still do them together. We sat in front of Le Mans beneath a star-filled sky, drank wine from coffee mugs and remembered how we first met. We roasted marshmallows beside the St. Joe River and bought lavender from the South Bend farmer’s market. We danced away the night and slowly brunched through late morning and afternoon. We watched scary movies, fell asleep on futons and wore wedding dresses to Olfs.

I grew up with three younger brothers, but have found myself surrounded by sisters. To Meg, Hannah, Sarah Catherine, Giavanna, Sarah, Sophie, McKenna, Megan, Colleen and Maria — thank you for everything, especially for walking into my life when you did. We left the door to McCandless room 209 open for a reason, and were rewarded with the best friends.

I owe my liberal arts education to four years of good books and class discussions, as well as a handful of individuals who especially impacted my academic journey. Professors Marc Belanger, Pat Pierce, Phil Hicks, Ari Farshbaf, Sianne Vijay and Rich Jones — thank you, thank you, thank you for being my teachers.

Everything I know about hard work, I learned from the four years I spent writing, editing and managing The Observer. The hours in our office often stretched well into the early morning, but were spent doing important work with remarkable people. We were offered the singular opportunity to uncover the truth and report it accurately — a responsibility we didn’t take lightly. This year especially made it clear that the world is watching the tri-campus, and for good reason. I feel so lucky to have played my part as a student journalist, and look forward to watching new Observer staff continue the work that started in 1966.

To the outgoing general board, especially the seniors — you continue to impress me with your ability to persevere under the most extreme conditions. The word “unprecedented” is overused, but it certainly applies. To the underclassmen and new leadership, and I mean this sincerely — good luck. Working with you was a pleasure in more ways than one, and I am so excited to see what else you can achieve. Please keep the Bill Brink Memorial BP Tournament Halloween-themed.

Genevieve, Crystal and the Saint Mary’s News Department — keep asking the tough questions, and don’t be afraid to raise your voice. Martha, Nicole, Gina and Jordan — like muses or mentors, I turned to you whenever I needed guidance. I want to be you when I grow up.

Of course, I have to mention a few more of my surrogate sisters. Maria, Mariah, Claire and Sara — thank you for letting me be your Jo. Much like the Marches, we’ve been through a lot. And yet, we managed to steer this student paper through uncertain waters with grace and humor. It was truly a privilege.

There are a lot of people who, over the course of the past four years, have made me feel a part of something bigger — something vital and alive. I am humbled by the Saint Mary’s women who have come before me, and so excited for the ones who will follow. Without dwelling on the circumstances of this past year, to the class of 2021: I am so proud of us. We were handed a sh-t deck, but we dealt with the cards beautifully.

The list of thanks owed to everyone who has made me feel the opposite of loneliness is long, longer than could fit within my word count. Saint Mary’s is made special by its ability to create community. We were promised discovery — discovery of ourselves, the world and our place in it. When we walk across the commencement stage and inevitably leave this beautiful campus as alumnae, our place will always here at Saint Mary’s College.

To quote Marina one last time — and to her, a million thanks are owed — we’re in this together, 2021. Let’s make something happen to this world.

Maeve Filbin is graduating from Saint Mary’s with a degree in political science and economics. She is moving to Washington, D.C. to become a market transactions analyst for Fannie Mae, and can be contacted at [email protected]

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Maeve Filbin

Maeve is a senior studying political science and economics at Saint Mary's, as well as Journalism, Ethics and Democracy at Notre Dame. She serves as an Assistant Managing Editor of The Observer, and thinks everyone should support student journalism.

Contact Maeve