I love change; I hate goodbyes.
I said this to a friend the other day when talking about my upcoming move from Dublin, Ireland, where I’ve lived for the last two years.
It’s not the first time I’ve had to say goodbye to a place and all the wonderful people I’ve met. And I am sure it won’t be the last.
Not only am I leaving a place and its people, but I’m leaving a job I’ve been at for the last three years and have loved.
A job that has been so much more than a job—a job that has changed my life in so many unexpected ways.
I was a year out of university, working a corporate job in HR, unhappy, and feeling lost, when I broke my ankle playing soccer one summer.
Suddenly, I was stuck at home, unable to do the normal “distraction,” and I was forced to sit and really face my thoughts.
One Sunday evening, I poured myself an exceptionally large glass of wine, and I started writing. I felt reinspired: this was what I was always meant to do. I’d been a reader of Elephant Journal for years, and I always dreamed of seeing my name on the homepage.
I pasted my first ever article into the submit form, sat back, took a big gulp of wine, and hit send.
A few days later, I got an email back with feedback on my piece. And a few days after that, I revised, sent it back, and I got my first official acceptance email. Nearly a year later, I quit my job, had ended the relationship I was in, and signed up for Elephant Journal’s Academy program.
Six months later, I was hired on as an editor.
And now, it’s time for me to leave.
Goodbyes are hard.
They are hard because there’s a part of you that wonders if these connections will last the distance.
They are hard because these people will continue on with their lives; doing all the things you have done together, only without you alongside them.
They are hard because you walk down the streets you walked a thousand times, and you wonder if you’ll ever see these buildings, these houses, the kind neighbours who you smile at, the young grocer at the Tesco, the guys who work at your gym who started calling you by your name, ever again.
They are hard because you’re leaving a place you feel like you only just got to say hello to.
They are hard because sometimes it feels like your experience was tainted by all the things you don’t expect—heartbreak, and a global pandemic.
It’s hard not to wonder what could have been.
It’s hard leaving. It’s hard always being the one to leave.
So, how do we say goodbye to people, places, and things?
We do what we have to do in order to make peace with the endings.
We don’t “cut-off” or ignore or distract because it’s easier.
We lean into the discomfort. We allow ourselves to be a little bit sad.
We can take a moment to soak it all in. To reflect on what these people, places, things, this job, have meant to us.
We can tell people what they meant to us. Or maybe some people don’t need to know—maybe some things are better left unsaid.
And it’s not really goodbye, is it?
Because these days, we’re all still connected in so many ways.
I’ve been told that in Ireland, they honour someone’s death by celebrating their life. They sing, toast, tell jokes, remember the good times.
I know it’s okay to be sad, to cry a little, lament what has been lost. But maybe it’s okay to also be happy.
To look through photos of all the memories I’ve made and all the people I’ve met and to say, what an experience.
Here are a few photos of those memories: