For the past year, my life has been a series of 'goodbyes'.
First, it was 'goodbye' to my school of thirteen years and to all of my friends. Then I said farewell to my ballet school, my neighborhood and the church I grew up in. I left my home country, and then my family to move to college. And now, a year later, I'm saying goodbye to freshman year and everything I've learned and experienced these past eight months at Emory.
Goodbyes are really, really tough. I miss the people and places so much and have cried on many occasions this past year (and will undoubtedly cry again before the year is up). But through all of my farewells, I've learned that goodbyes aren't all bad. As I finish up my freshman year at Emory, I am trying to remember that endings come with their own special type of blessing.
Goodbyes teach you to value what you have. Right before leaving communities that I was a part of, I particularly noticed how much I valued how close we were. This feeling of love and care is not one that would as easily be noticed if nothing were to change. Were everything to remain the same, maybe we wouldn't learn to value the people in our lives and to realize how much they mean to us. Goodbyes teach us to not take anything for granted – the good-morning notes from your mom, the late-night small-talk with your hallmates or the hugs you receive from your best friends. Although leaving is so discouraging, it does finally open up our eyes to all the blessings in our lives.
Goodbyes make ways for better opportunities. When I came to college, I disagreed with the idea that "every goodbye is a new hello". The first meetings of friends I found in college were not comparable to the time I would enjoy with friends back home. All said and done, something you say goodbye to can never be replaced, but you can still be certain that blessings will be ahead. For me, it makes me so sad that there will be no equivalent to rooming with my freshman roommate next year. But I also know that next year, I'll have the amazing opportunity of encouraging a hall of girls as a SA in Complex. I believe that we can take heart in knowing that leaving a situation makes room for blessings in our next too, even if it's not the same.
Goodbyes don't change what really matters. Although leaving people who you love is heartbreaking, those who matter will never truly say goodbye. My friends from back home and I have completely separate lives now and we don't know the next time that we will see each other, but we try our best to go on a call once a month or so. I don't live with my parents anymore, but I still text them nearly every day. Saying 'farewell' to people you love is simply an obstacle in your relationship and not an ending. As for me, I have my parents, my brothers, my good friends from the Netherlands, my new friends at Emory and a good Father who promises to never leave and forsake me. Even though I've gone through so many goodbyes, I still have what matters most. Even though we might leave so many situations, we don't have to leave what is important to us.
Especially at this time of year, we are bound to go through some difficult and disheartening goodbyes. There is nothing wrong with feeling sad about leaving a situation or a person, as often times, it only goes to show how much you care. But I would encourage everyone reading this article to realize that even the hardest farewells are never all bad. Before you leave, look around you to see all the blessings you have. Remember that a goodbye, as hard as it is, may lead you to another meaningful opportunity. And take heart in that, for the people that you love, your relationship doesn't have to have an expiration date.
(In this article, I mean to discuss goodbyes in which you physically displace yourself from a situation and from those you love, through activities such as moving. I acknowledge that other forms of goodbyes are very different, and do not have the same redemptive qualities.)