I Barely Knew You, But You Taught Me How To Live

Someone I only knew from a distance passed away suddenly at the young age of 27. Our paths had crossed across the years and locations — dancing on the same stage in Prague, drinking until 5 in the morning at one of the epic “Saturday Night Live” after-after parties, tailgating at the same fraternity house at the University of Michigan — but I didn’t know anything more then his name and his group of friends. He was another face in the endless series of Instagrams, a person who would pop up in my life as quickly as he would disappear.

After his passing, my social media feeds were filled with an outpouring of love to a wonderful soul. I began to realize how many people this one person had impacted, people who had come into my own personal life at different stages, people who I didn’t even realize were all tied together by this one person. In death, beauty rises to the surface. And in his death, his words, his writing acted as a source of comfort to all that knew him. And strangely enough, his words acted as a source of comfort and inspiration to even those that knew him from afar.

As so many of us struggle to find our place in the world, to figure out what we’re meant to do, who we are meant to become, we think that time is on our side. We think that we have a long time to make mistakes, to put off writing that piece of literature we’ve been brewing in our mind. We have time to fall in love, time to go visit an exhibit at a museum, time to go finally try that pizza place out in Brooklyn you’ve been wanting to go to for over a year. Time seems so infinite.

When tragedy strikes, when someone dies far too young, it hits you like a ton of bricks. And for the time being, you start to think about everything you’ve done or everything you’ve failed to accomplish. You think of the days and hours wasted. Of those mornings that turned into night when you haven’t left your couch struggling from a terrible hangover caused by a night that wasn’t even that much fun. Of those hours spent trying to get to the 4096 tile on a pointless game. Of the time spent watching “Tasty” videos of food you’ll never make.

As I sit here writing this — my first unique writing in a long time — I’m listening to David Bowie. An artist I never listened to in life, but have found comfort in death. There’s something beautiful about leaving behind a legacy that wasn’t intended to be a legacy when you first started out. Writing music and dressing against the cultural norm was a true expression of self, fame and fortune comes later. And I think that’s something that’s so easily forgotten on so many of us. I feel like now many of us, myself especially, want to find validation from someone or something. From a boss, from a boyfriend, from a promotion, from a friend, from a new Twitter follower.

It’s a tough and scary thing to put yourself out there, to write, to be your honest self. But at the end of the day, if you can’t do that, what else do you have? Living a fake life, spending mindless time on something that lacks joy because it’s easier than failing at something that brings you happiness becomes exhausting. And it’s a scary thing, where do you start? How do you begin?

This is my start. Inspired by someone who’s beautiful words spoke about the importance of doing things (traveling) while you are young because there will always be excuses. And for someone who will ever be immortalized as young, who will always be 27, I take his words to heart. Because there is no time like now. Because sometimes, this messed up world won’t allow you to have tomorrow. And if it does, if the world gifts you a tomorrow, you need to seize the moment, seize the inspiration.

Even though I truly didn’t know you, even though we never shared a laugh or a beer or a secret, I am touched by the life you lived. I am inspired by your words. Your friends’ words. The love that surrounded you.

I plan to live a better, more inspired life because of you. I plan to write more. I plan to get that slice of pizza I’ve been wanting. I plan to visit the Whitney. I plan to take that trip to New Orleans. I plan to use that Groupon. I plan to be a better friend, a better daughter, a better sister, a better girlfriend, a better colleague, a better person. I plan to stop hiding.
I plan to start being me.

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