Goodbye to who you were

If you haven’t said any goodbyes lately, you probably don’t know me in person. Lately, it seems like I’ve been all about goodbyes. And that’s a good thing, in many ways.

(As a side note, if you haven’t said any goodbyes lately, let me encourage you to do it.)

Anyway, some of the hardest goodbyes are the ones you and I have to say to ourselves all the time.

Like decisions. Decisions are difficult because even though they mean moving forward in one direction, they also mean cutting off a bunch of others.

Before I moved to Korea, I studied some of the problems with culture shock. I tried to read stories from transplanters who wrote about how it felt.

From what I read, some of the worst culture shock came when these people returned home. While away, they’d built up an ideal in their minds about what home was like. They returned to find home’s not what they’d imagined. They call this reverse culture shock.

I haven’t even gone back yet. I’ve only been gone for about four months. And still, I feel like I can never go back.

Sure, I’ll move back to America, to Kentucky, to Louisville. I’ll live in the same area, reunite with my family and the same friends, speak the same language. But there’s no way I’ll ever be the same again.

And that feels a little sad, you know, like that feeling you might get when you realize you’ll never get to be a nine-year-old kid again, playing with your friends in the neighborhood.

It’s easy to say goodbye to who you were if who you were was lame. It’s easy to say goodbye to a broke alcoholic, a stressed-out employee, or an overweight slug. It’s easy to part with those parts.

But you and I, pretty much everyone, I’d say, has had some pretty good times in the past. That makes saying goodbye harder. That makes saying goodbye sadder.

“Try new things. Start new projects. Experience new cultures. Meet new people. Make new friends.”

It sounds exciting – and it is – but there’s another side to it too: the goodbyes. Once you go new, you can’t go back. You won’t be the same.

You have to say goodbye to who you were. Who you were, your past self, has already said goodbye to you.

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