Constant Change: As I overcame my fear of farewells

A confession about my reluctance to say goodbye

Oishee Misra

I’ve never been the best at goodbyes.

I don’t even need to do a deep soul search to explain my aversion, because frankly, it’s pretty straightforward: I don’t like change. And yes, I know I’ve spent this entire year talking about change — how change is good, how change allows us to grow as people, how change is the best learning experience as we navigate through life — but to be honest with you, I don’t know if I can say the same about goodbyes.

To me, goodbyes have always been the hardest kind of change. Every time I say goodbye, I’m left with a bitter taste in my mouth. The aroma of finality that accompanies departure is never sweet, and despite my attempts to be as jaded as possible during farewells, I can’t help but sense a looming pit in my stomach whenever I’m forced to part ways with anything.

Throughout my life, every single time I’ve had to say a major goodbye, I’ve refused to shed a single tear. When I left my home to move halfway across the world at nine years old, there were no tears rolling down my cheeks (apologies to all my English teachers who’ve received personal narratives where I wrote about me gazing out the window of the airplane as tears rolled down my cheeks — not true, merely added to make me seem less like an emotionless robot). When my grandpa passed away, the tears refused to arrive. During our middle school graduation, when practically everyone was in tears because we were all being shipped off to five different high schools, did my eyes water? Not even a little bit.

I realize that me talking about my inability to cry in situations where most people cry is making me seem like I have inhumane tendencies, but I promise you it’s not because I don’t care. As an introvert who isn’t close to a lot of people, the ones I am close to tend to be ones whom I’d do anything for. When an occasion arises where I have to say goodbye to them, it hurts — to say the very least. Therefore my inability to properly display human emotions is not because I don’t care, but because sometimes, I care a little too much. I guess I’ve always been so unwilling to say goodbye that I just… don’t. I wrap myself into a cocoon of denial and pretend absolutely everything is perfectly normal and absolutely nothing is changing (disclaimer: it doesn’t work).

I know what you’re thinking: this girl’s wack. I’m aware. And I know goodbyes are important, they help you grow, they give you closure, they bring you maturity, and so on and so forth. I also know that I’ve spent this year writing about change and how I’ve changed, and this is the point where I typically transition into my ta da! moment where I explain my revelation of some sort and proceed to pretend to be an intellectual who has her life figured out. Yet this time? I don’t have a ta da! moment.

I still approach goodbyes with hostility, because my fear of the ups and downs of life have manifested as my distaste for farewells. And that’s where you (yes I’m talking to an intangible column; just go with it) come in.

This year, I’ve talked about a plethora of things. Writing to you and voicing my thoughts helped me discover productivity within the summer I thought I wasted, appreciate the importance of the news, understand the bright side of being incredibly busy, admit that I no longer had faith in a higher power, find self-love, disregard societal constructs of beauty, be okay with uncertainty about my future and realize my liking for solitude. I’ve changed immensely, and I think to say goodbye to this list (ha), I’m going to use you one last time — to learn how to say goodbye.

Saying goodbye to this column (would you look at that — I’m being normal and switched back to first person) is going to be difficult. Not only am I saying goodbye to an outlet for monthly rants, but I’m also saying goodbye to sophomore year. Sophomore year hasn’t been the best. It feels like it has had more downs than ups, but this column has been a breath of fresh air when I felt like I was suffocating under all the daily humdrum — the tests, the studying, the drama — of my daily existence (a little dramatic, but you know me by now). Life has been a (word that rhymes with fitch), but regardless, I’ve learned so much about myself, about others and hopefully a little bit about the world.

This column has helped me realize that no matter what — whether my life is falling into place or crashing and burning — the only thing that’s constant is change. There’s no stopping the whirlwind of experiences that will continue to plague or enlighten me, so the departure of this column definitely won’t mean the departure of change. Leaving you and my sophomore year behind is yet another one of the goodbyes I can’t seem to get the hang of, but before I go, I just wanted to thank you for sticking with me (okay, I’m getting weirdly sentimental about an intangible object). But if we’re being sane for a second here (a rare occurrence for me), it’s not really you that stuck with me, it’s me. I’ve dealt with myself for an entire year, and I will continue to deal with myself for the rest of my life.

You’ve taught me how to be comfortable in my own skin, and now I think it’s time for me to take over the reins. I’ve rambled on for a while in hopes that my words would succinctly articulate what I’ve never been able to properly say — a goodbye. But maybe sometimes, goodbyes aren’t necessary. Nothing ever truly ends, life is just an endless cycle of change (what can I say I’m practically a philosopher).

I did move halfway across the world, but that doesn’t mean I can’t still visit or reach out to my childhood friends. My grandpa passed away, but that doesn’t mean he will be forgotten anytime soon; he lives on in pictures and memories. This is my last column, but that doesn’t mean I’ll stop changing, it just means I’ve gotten a little bit better at recognizing it for myself.

So to wrap up this incredibly long amalgamation of words that honestly amount to the one word I’ve been meaning to get to: goodbye.