The Art of Saying Goodbye
In the last two and a half years on my whirlwind travels spanning the globe, I have been fortunate enough to meet some pretty incredible people. The thing is though, when you aren’t ever in a place for very long, knowing that you will soon have to be saying goodbye is inevitable. So how do you do it? How do you put yourself out there, get close with people, show them your soul, and be vulnerable? Well, there is no perfect formula for it and it’s an art I’m still working on. With that being said though, I think it’s one of the most valuable lessons I have learned. I have learned to appreciate the people that come into my life and be thankful that our pathes crossed, no matter which length of time that may be for. I am a true believer that everyone comes into your life for a reason and it’s through this notion that I am learning to be grateful for every friendship instead of being sad when it’s time to say goodbye.
Sometimes it hits you more than others, like when you are leaving a place you called home for a few months. When you arrive to a place that you know you will be calling home for awhile longer than normal it can be overwhelming. Between looking for somewhere to live, a job, and day to day life, finding friends and making connections can be difficult. Personally, this is when I’ve had the hardest time making friends. See, in the words of Buddha, the problem is, you think you have time. But in this crazy life of constant motion, you never have as much time as you think you do. Slowly but surely though you start to make friends and develop a routine and get comfortable somewhere. You start to feel at home and it actually feels good. Then, for some reason, without wanting it to happen, your feet start itching and you face the inevitable, that you won’t be there much longer. And all of a sudden it hits you, things were actually starting to get really good and you question the crazy thought…. “but what if for once I stayed?”. Unfortunately in my case, when I leave a place it’s usually due to expiring visas and actually having no choice but to leave the country, but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s interesting nevertheless to toy with the idea of some how, some way, finding a means to stay.
Then there are times when you are traveling faster. Changing cities or countries every few days or every week. While traveling, it’s bound to happen that you’ll meet some remarkable people. And sometimes you’ll even meet people in these times that make an impression on you, an impression strong enough to stick with you. Even these people you’ve only known for a few days can be hard to say goodbye to.
No matter how long you’ve known someone though or what bond you’ve developed, it creeps up on you and suddenly it’s time to say goodbye. I remember my first year in Italy. There were definitely tears when I said goodbye to friends throughout the year. But now I say goodbye so frequently that no matter how much I hate saying goodbye, I never cry. I’ve started to question if I’ve become emotionless or if I’m just really good at saying goodbye.
The truth is though, I’m neither. Sometimes for some reason I like to pretend I am emotionless, as if that will make things easier and make me appear stronger. But emotions are good. Emotions show that you feel things and you feel things deeply. I don’t think there is anything more raw or revealing about a person than being able to see their emotions.
It’s not easy to say goodbye. And I’m not good at it. Chances are, the person I am saying good bye to is probably returning home to their friends and/or a normal life. This is the downside of being the one who just keeps traveling. It’s hard to admit, but the truth is obviously when I spend 90% of the year out of the country, I don’t see my friends from home very often and don’t talk to them as frequently as I would like. Even though I love them to pieces sometimes being across the world can take a toll and even if it goes unsaid, I know it’s felt on both ends. It’s because of this that you hang on tight to those people that are in front of you in this very moment. You become friends with people who are so different from you, but also with astounding similarities. It’s easy to feel lonely on the road. But you learn to love yourself and become your own best friend and then before you know it, you find yourself surrounded by the most extraordinary people and that is when your heart is full of gratitude. It’s these moments, surrounded by incredible people, that I am reminded why I love traveling and why I keep going.
You see, this life is just a series of beautiful and crazy fleeting moments. So hold onto them. They are special and they are the memories that will make you look back at this life and smile. Next time you find yourself in an airport, train station, or on the side of the road saying goodbye, make sure to hug extra tight and smile extra wide for you have been unquestionably fortunate. But most importantly, never ever stop saying hello for the fear of a future goodbye.