Saying goodbye has always been the hardest thing for me to do. I’m plagued by inertia—I always have been. I’m resistant to change, as hard as I try to embrace new experiences. Anything new, anything unknown, is terrifying.
Letting go of people and places is even harder than launching into the new. I went to summer camp for six years, and had some of the best experiences of my life there—saying goodbye at the end of every summer was heart-wrenching. There was a song we would all sing on the last night, a song that I’ll always remember. The last line was this: “And as the years go by, I’ll think of you and sigh… this is goodnight and not goodbye.”
That made my aversion to change easier to deal with. I didn’t have to say goodbye, just “see you later.”
I’m not a kid anymore, and life is more complicated now. Sometimes, saying goodbye is necessary. When everything in your life changes, and you need to embrace something completely new, how can you do so without severing ties with what’s holding you back?
It seems simple enough—sometimes you have to let go. But it’s harder than it sounds to say a definitive farewell to something that once made you so happy. In trying to let the past go, that camp song echoes in my head, urging me to say goodnight instead.
I desperately want to say goodnight. I want to tell myself that my new situation is temporary, and that eventually everything will go back to the way it was. The truth is, though, that every moment in life is fleeting. “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it is not the same river and he is not the same man,” said the Greek philosopher Heraclitus. Nothing is ever the same as it was a second ago—everything is constantly changing. In hoping that my life will return to the way it was, I forfeit my enjoyment of the here and now.
All this is to say that I know I have to learn to say goodbye. The past may have been great, but dwelling on it will only decrease my chances of creating a great future.
And although I’m logically aware of this, I’m guided by my emotions—emotions that don’t want to let go of what my life was. My logic and my feelings are at war with one another. As much as I want to embrace my current situation and all the new things life is hurling at me, I find myself stuck in the past.
I want to share this personal struggle because I’m sure that some of you reading this have felt this way before, unable to move on from what once fulfilled you. How did you learn to focus on the here and now? How did you recognize the great parts of your current life? I’m resolving to do my best to live in the moment and be grateful for what I have, even though I want desperately to hold onto the past and not let go. If I figure out how, I’ll certainly share it. For now, I would love to hear about your experiences.
I know that I’m holding myself back, and that I need to move forward. As hard as it is, I know saying goodbye to something good may make room for something even better. I do hope that that’s true.