How to Say Goodbye
These last few months have been awkward.
More awkward than usual.
It's because I'm having to say goodbye a lot. And not just like, "Oh, yeah, see ya later" kind of byes, but "I'm not going to see you for at least two years," and "I hope you have a happy life," and "See ya in Heaven!" kind of byes.
What I've discovered is that pretty much no one handles them well.
I wanted to write a post about how to say goodbye, but I just don't know if there is a good way. I definitely left with more questions than answers about the departure process.
So, I rely on the wise producers of The Office to get through this time of life.
The Sigh of Relief
This goodbye is to something that you wanted to say goodbye to a long time ago & you really feel no need to act as if you have any sentiment toward it any longer. It can be applied to things like research papers, people who ask what I'm doing with my life, traffic, high heels, and being cold.
The "Goodbye, Nice Acquaintance"
This goodbye is for people who you feel deserve a goodbye, but you don't know them very well and neither of you really have any exorbitant feelings toward each other. It can also be applied to the people who you tried to avoid seeing, but couldn't, and upon finding out that you're moving to Africa feel the need to work up some sentiment toward you. It can also be applied to all the people who thought you were already gone. These are the most awkward goodbyes. For reasons unknown my acquaintance goodbyes usually morph into a bow or the live long and prosper sign. That is probably why they remain acquaintances.
The Humorous Departure
This form of goodbye humorously acknowledges the reality of life - that I will probably never see most of the people I'm saying goodbye to ever again. We appreciate each other and the time we've had, but we will go our separate ways.
It's been weird to part ways with so many people all at the same time, people who have been really important to me. But it's also good to see so many people going on to be great people in new places. And thanks to social media I'm really only a click away from most of them.
The Thankful Compliment
This form of goodbye is a way of saying, "I'll probably never see you again - but I really appreciate your role in my life." It is a compliment to the person and a special thanks for what they have done for you, been to you, or mean to you. This salutation does not signify that you will never see them again, but neither does it require you to see them again. Like a really nice greeting card that hugs you.
The Alternative Goodbye
This form of goodbye expresses sentiment when you can't or can't bring yourself to say goodbye in person. For me, it was a letter.
There aren't really any words that are appropriate to be your last words to someone that you really care about, but that's okay. Life is short - sometimes shorter than we anticipate - and we don't always have time to come up with all the right words. Love doesn't require eloquence.
The "See Ya Later"
This form of goodbye denies any emotional response to the fact that you will not see a friend in person for two years, and confirming that - Lord willing - you will see them again. Unlike the "I hope I can come back" and "See ya in Heaven," this salutation implies that this is not the end of the relationship, but rather you're just taking a break from face-to-face interaction.
The Supportive Sendoff
This form of goodbye communicates that you are sad to see someone go, but you believe in what they're doing.
This is most of my goodbyes these days, and I'm really thankful for that. I know a lot of people who are doing/have done what I'm about to do and their friends and families are not supportive. I have no idea what that's like. It's a rare blessing to have as many people in my life that encourage me to do what I want to do. So, even though goodbyes are hard, they recognize good in me leaving, at least for now.
The Silent Treatment
Sometimes goodbyes are just hugs or prolonged awkward stares, because sometimes there's just nothing that does the moment justice.
Even though I'm just going for two years, two years is at least half of the time that I've known most of my best friends. And it's a critical two years for many of them - I'm going to miss graduations, weddings, and kids being born. And they're going to miss two formative years of my life. And it's hard to walk away from that after we've had so many good and meaningful times together. I sometimes think that this would all be easier if God hadn't given me such good friends and family. But he went & gave me awesome relationships, so there's a lot of goodbyes like this.
But it doesn't really matter which goodbye you choose. None of them are easy.
How to Say Hello
And while goodbyes are important, hellos are just as important. It's finally time to say hello to a new place, a new lifestyle, new opportunities, new experiences, and a lot of new friends. And I'll probably look exactly like Creed when I do it.