There will come a time in your life. A crossroads. You could go one of two ways – the ‘safe’, well-paved way or down the unknown road.
It’s like peering into the distance on a misty, cloudy day. You can’t quite see what’s out there, but somehow you know it’s beautiful.
This is my life.
On the one hand, I have home. It’s comfortable, warm, and safe. And then there’s the unknown. I bet I know what you’re thinking. ‘Why the heck would you choose path B?’ Well, that misty path is my happiness.
Nearly 12 months ago, I made a decision to follow that path. The scary one. The uncomfortable one. The exciting one. But the catch is, that road is plagued with goodbyes.
I’ve said more goodbyes in the past year than anyone should say in their lifetime. It doesn’t get easier but, this hello/goodbye cycle, it does start to become ‘normal.’
One of the best things about travelling is the people you meet. But one of the worst things is the people you’ve left at home. You miss a lot. Catch ups. Trips with friends. Fun events. Birthdays. Engagements. Weddings.
And it’s those small things, every day, in-between moments, that matter just as much.
Waking up and sharing a cup of coffee with your housemate. The weekly dinner with your family. That weekend girl’s trip to the beach. Sunday morning brunch with your bestie. Jumping on the trampoline with your nephew.
It’s these moments that you hold close to your heart when you’re on the road. When I was hiking mountains in Bali or when I’m taking the subway in NYC, these are what colour my thoughts.
You can start to question yourself.
Am I doing the right thing?
What if people at home forget me?
Why are you here if you’re lonely?
Sometimes, the lines blur between happiness and selfishness. Because we’re off living our own dreams, we’re not to ‘showing up’ at home. And this can initiate a sense of guilt.
But, it’s okay to choose your life over the ones you love. Let me explain.
I’ve had my loved one’s make me feel guilty for choosing to travel. I don’t think they intentionally mean to upset me, but it’s the subtleness of their remarks that linger.
“Can’t you just stay for an extra two weeks before leaving again?”
“NYC can wait. Stay for his birthday.”
Without you knowing it, you start to second guess your decisions. You see photos pop up in your Facebook feed – a constant reminder that you’re ‘missing out.’
It happened today. I was scrolling through my newsfeed while I was waiting for my subway into Manhattan. That familiar screeching hailed in the distance, telling me my train was coming. I was listening to this beautiful song – To Build a Home, by the Cinematic Orchestra.
“The L train into Manhattan is approaching. Please keep your distance from the side,” the American lady announced on the speaker.
The song continued in my ears. ‘This is a place where I don’t feel alone. This is a place where I feel at home…”
I take this line all the time, but something was different about today. This station had become my station. The music. The lyrics… it all hit me.
This is my home. I live for this.
You’ve got to constantly remind yourself that this is your life, your happiness. It’s your responsibility to make it what you want, and never feel guilty for going after it. While these goodbyes and missed moments are hard to swallow, focus on all the memories you’re creating, now.
Embracing new friendships with people I meet.
Wandering around, with no destination in mind.
Learning about the culture through strangers.
Weekly Skype calls with family back home.
These are all my new ‘small’ moments. And to your people back home, they’ll always be there. Cherish those friendships no matter where you are.
Goodbyes have a silver lining
Don’t be dismayed by goodbyes. It’s in the farewells that we rediscover beauty – meanings after moments.
That’s what makes goodbyes so hard. We’re parting with something that’s good, something we value. But how lucky am I to have people in my life that are so hard to say goodbye to?
Every ending has a beginning. Good memories, they’re all we can ask for in this life.
To look back and smile, to feel a full heart, and to feel alive.
Sometimes it’s hard to know what’s on the other side. But when saying goodbye, don’t let it bring you tears of sadness. Be fearless in your pursuit of your happiness. Because just like a caterpillar transforms into a butterfly, we too continually renew ourselves.
There’s beauty in the cycle. Don’t resist it. Cry, hug tighter & keep those memories close to your heart.
But, follow that feeling. You are entirely up to you.