The hardest thing that living abroad and travelling throws at you is learning to say goodbye. It is a lesson you never quite master as with each farewell to new ami’s or à bientôt to family back home, feelings of sadness and loneliness weigh heavy on the heart. It is a bitter-sweet moment that leaves a lingering doubt in the back of your mind as to whether jetting off on your travels is as good an idea as you thought it would be. Why must you have to say goodbye already to the friends you made a month ago? Why can’t your family be in your back pocket in a moment of loneliness? Like everything in life though (and certainly in any lifestyle choice) there is the good and the bad. In fact, it is actually in the bad times that we learn our lessons and become stronger and better equipped to deal with the next mishap or misfortune.
Over the past year living abroad, quite sadly I tell you that I have had to say goodbye frequently to each of my wonderful friends I have met along the way. Each time, the ‘throw-my-toys-out-of-the-pram’ part of me has kicked and screamed about how it is not fair and life will not be the same once a friend has gone; a pretty natural reaction to the end of months of fun together. However the more, shall we say, reasonable part of me (that has evolved further with each au revoir) acknowledges the sadness of the situation but calmly searches for the silver lining. A friendship is never lost as it lives on in happy memories of time spent together, however short. A true friendship will last the test of time and distance; lost contact and thousands of miles have no bearing on the ability to resume a friendship like no time has passed. It is these friends that you can, in a year or five or twenty, drop by on when you are finally together again in the same corner of the world. AND honestly, who wouldn’t want to have a free stay and private tour guide available on every continent?
One thing I like to remind myself when I am feeling uncertain after a friend has gone on their way, is that when one door closes another opens (as clichéd as that is). You have time to meet new people and hear fascinating stories from their past and can share new memories of exciting experiences. I can liken the steady comings and goings of friends to the ebbs and flows of rivers; it is comforting to realise that even when friends leave, new friends arrive.
“If you’re brave enough to say goodbye, life will reward you with a new hello.” Paulo Coelho
It is quite possible to believe (and I do believe in things happening for a reason) that I have had to endure many goodbyes over this year just in order to prepare me for the ultimate one which, scarily, is fast approaching; the farewell to my au pair family whom I leave in two short months. This I know will be tough to bear as they have over the past 16 months become a second family to me. It will take all my might to leave and not be too heartbroken but I will recall my past experiences in goodbyes and think only about the new endeavours and new friendships that await me.
“How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” Pooh Bear
Here is some advice from me to you- whether you are living abroad, your friend is leaving for a more exotic land or you are even just missing old school/ university friends.. do not be disheartened by a goodbye. It is only a ‘goodbye for now’.
“No distance of place or lapse of time can lessen the friendship of those who are thoroughly persuaded of each other’s worth.” Robert Southey