We live in the most connected time in the history of humankind. Yet I still hate being physically disconnected. I can’t stand saying goodbye. I’ve had them all: long goodbyes, short goodbyes, pretty goodbyes, and ugly goodbyes. All have been a mess, but all have taught me things I’ll never forget.
In my experience, those who relate to this are often scoffed at by people who don’t. For some people, it’s hard to see why parting is a big deal. In this guide, I’ll show you exactly why.
The goodbye I wasn’t ready for.
The first thing that comes to mind when I think of goodbyes is a chilly Saturday morning in early 2019. That morning, I learned that my 16-year-old close friend had recently attempted suicide. I never prepared to say goodbye to anyone my age, let alone someone 3 years younger. And yet there I was, stunned silent at the realization that a young lady I thought of like a sister almost dropped off the radar for good.
This goodbye is important because it basically kickstarted my ongoing journey to find and nurture meaning. The abrupt, most permanent goodbye possible nearly hit me when I was totally not ready. That shook me into realizing that the rug can get pulled from under your feet at any time. It made me realize the importance of cherishing what matters now. Before it’s gone. This was a massive shift in my attitude towards everything. They say losing someone changes you, but in my case even nearly losing someone practically rewrote my DNA as a person.
That near-goodbye is also responsible for the start of my professional career as I know it today. And that came with its own fair share of leaving.
The goodbye that could’ve lasted forever.
In my freshman year of college, I spent eight months in Canada before I made any friends. It’s unfortunate, really, because the friends I eventually made will probably last a lifetime. The gateway drug to these new connections was my habit of visiting the same cafe every day to unwind from a busy day of desperately trying to figure out what to do with my life. Eventually, I showed up in the cafe so much I knew all the staff and all the staff knew me. Polite exchanges became deep conversations, and casual acquaintances became solid friends. But it wasn’t to be that blissful for long. Soon, I had to move to a different continent for my first job so I had to leave all these people behind.
The series of goodbyes I said to these friends were probably the hardest I’ve ever had to say. I think what made them so painful was the fact that they were different kinds of bonds, bonds I never knew I could make. It felt like I had just discovered fire and was condemned to live in the ocean.
This was the first time the goodbye experience was palpable. After all, I had a warning. I saw these people every day knowing that time was counting down and I’d have to leave, soon. That was something I’d never had the chance to feel before: Preparing to let go. It sounds like it should be incredibly unpleasant, but I found it to be quite the opposite. It was actually one of the best time periods of my life so far. After all, when you approach a relationship like you’re about to lose it, everything changes. Kindness is boundless. Time is whatever you make of it. People are accepted as-is, free from the usual judgement. Saying goodbye was priceless when I actually had the chance to say it.
This goodbye I prepared for could’ve lasted forever. It taught me to treat everything like it had a countdown timer, even if I couldn’t see the time I had left. It taught me how to appreciate what I had like it was about to be gone. One day, everything truly will be.
The goodbyes still to come.
None of my current friends in real life read what I write. I wish they did. It would really help them approach our relationship more confidently since they’d know me better as a person. What they would discover if they did read my thoughts, however, is that I think about them all the time. I think about how each of them matter to me, but more importantly I think about how I’ll let them go. I know it’ll happen someday, and I know I won’t be ready no matter what I do. But if I can save a few tears, it’s worth a shot.
I’ve found that the future goodbyes are hardest for people to understand because no one sees them coming. And yet a future goodbye is literally coming for us all. It’s called death. Never mind preparing to move to a new country, how about preparing for that?
I’ve got a mixed bag of emotions about farewells. On one hand, I’ve gone through more of them than usual at this age so I feel compelled to share what I learned. On the other hand, I’m just a lonely 19-year-old writer with attachment issues who sheds goodbye tears way ahead of time. But what I am unequivocally convinced of is that we should all spend more time with people we care about. That way, when the inevitable goodbye comes, we can say we tried our best to make it suck less.
If you like hearing unpopular opinions and provocative insights, you’ll love my daily podcast. It’s about ambition, mindset, and happiness (AKA being human). I also write about tech and fashion. And the best trick hidden up my sleeve? Fashion design.