I struggle with goodbye.

I avoid it whenever possible – I’m much more of a “See you later! Love you!” person and if I think someone is going to leave me, I always make sure to beat them to it. Break your own heart before someone else breaks it for you.

Yet as I count down the days until I depart for Costa Rica, goodbye is no longer something I can avoid. In the next week and a half I have goodbye dinners with friends, final days at work, and a “see you later!” party with family. Goodbyes are closing in on every side and this time I’m the one leaving.

Though I know I am doing the right thing in leaving and taking a year for myself, saying goodbye scares me. I don’t know whether these goodbyes are “see you next year!” or “Thanks for being in my life. See you never!”.

In both my heart and head, I know some of these goodbyes are final and yet I cannot pinpoint which ones – experience has taught me that the goodbyes that you think mean “see you later!” are often more permanent that you anticipate. Yet I also know that those you expect to fade quickly from your life often reappear later.

I am at a point in my life where I am surrounded by people I adore, by people I have carefully formed into a support circle, by co-workers who have become family, and by friends I cannot imagine life without. Yet the places I am at are not where I long to be in my life – I am safe, comfortable, and if you took a snapshot of my life right now, I would be okay with that, but I also know that I will not be content here forever. Even if I stay, things will change.

Goodbye is inevitable.

There is no way around it – even if I could snapshot my life at this moment, I wouldn’t – yet I am convinced that knowing goodbye is coming may be even more heartbreaking than an unexpected one. I have been left with far too much time to hang on, to realize that this could very be the last time I see any particular individual, and if it is, what will I regret not saying/doing?

I complicate goodbyes, I think.

My biggest fear is leaving things unspoken. I want each individual to specifically know the impact that they have had on my life, how they’ve shaped me into the person I am, what their support meant, what I think when I think about them. I am an overly emotional and sentimental being when it comes to goodbye. I hug and cling to the very last second and have been known to cry on occasion. Walking away, knowing that I will be the one to leave, is the toughest thing to think about.

I want the best of both worlds.

I want to live the travel life, to be a nomad, and wander the world for years. I want to ditch my homebase and find home in countries across oceans.

I also want safety and comfort, to know who is going to be where and what they’re doing. I want predictability in my interactions.

Reconciling the two is proving to be all but impossible.
Tomorrow my family comes over to exchange Christmas gifts, eat pizza, and spend time together. It will be the last time I see them before I leave. On Saturday, I work my last shift at my retail job and on Sunday, I say goodbye to the co-workers who have become my family. Monday means goodbyes with my best friend and then, on Wednesday, it’s goodbye to my baby brother as I board my flight to Costa Rica.

Safe and comfortable has been the answer my entire life. Travel is my future, at least for now. Unfortunately, the means letting go and, well, that’s not really something I’m good at. I am taking comfort in the fact that life itself is impermanent – even if I were to stay exactly where I am now, things would change, relationships would change.

Life is impermanent. Travel even moreso. Though I cannot guarantee I will get through the next ten days without tears, I am doing my best to breathe, absorb every ounce of love and cherish every moment with the people I love, and let go.

Photo by Rémi Walle on Unsplash