No doubt in my mind about this one. Hands down, the hardest thing about growing up…
was saying goodbye.
My goodbyes began when I was a couple months old…saying goodbye to my whole extended family as my family headed back to Africa. At that point, I obviously had no clue.
The goodbye’s got harder and harder as I got older. Back to America. Build relationships here, then just when I think I’ve “got it”, it’s back to Africa again. Four years of building relationships, than the goodbye’s begin again.
The goodbyes that hurt the most began in high school. That age is such a vulnerable age, and it was difficult enough to build relationships without having to leave them and begin new ones.
My 9th grade year, I moved to the States, and went to a large public school. At public school, I was neither accepted or rejected- I just kind of was. I did make a particular group of friends, but it took months. I finally found my place in two groups- the cross country team and my youth group. By the time it was time to leave for Africa, I was heartbroken over the relationships that I had finally firmly established. But alas, it was time to head back…
So we flew across the ocean and I arrived back at my own old stomping grounds. But they were much different than I remembered. You see, at an MK school, the turnover rate is huge. In my one year of being gone, many of my friends had left, and new friends had arrived. “My” stomping ground weren’t really mine anymore…it felt like they had been trampled on. But, as most MKs go, resilience stepped in, and within a few months I had renewed lost friendships and build new ones- this time for the long haul. I was in 10th grade, and I think I loved almost every minute of that year. Sure, there was some drama, but we had a blast and life was good.
At the end of that year, I lost a lot. No one died, but in some ways it felt like it. My brother and the whole graduating class (whom I was close with) graduated and moved back to the States (and several other countries). Several teachers I was close with also left. I said goodbye to three of my close friends…friends I haven’t seen since then. Even though I stayed on my own “stomping grounds”, I lost many of my friends. At that point, growing up was no fun. The same thing happened at the end of my junior year of high school.
Then, I graduated from high school. The relationships that I spent 3 or more years building were all gone. All in one day. I have only seen several of those people in the past four years. I know that most people want to forget high school and leave it in the past, but high school was such an enriching time of my life. I didn’t cry through one goodbye, until I said the very last one…then I wept for several hours. Goodbyes are so hard.
And then finally…the last goodbyes that I have said when I graduated from Cedarville. Seeing most of my friends move at least across the state, if not across the country.
Yes, goodbyes are so difficult.
Have you ever noticed that we all say goodbye in different ways? Some of us fling, some of us cling. Some of us weep, some of us become hard as steel. Some of us hold it all in, some of us wear it on our sleeve. Some of us bottle it up in inside, some of us run away.
Each time friends, teachers and mentors left my life, new ones came in. I am so thankful for the many, many chances I have had to learn from so many different people from so many different walks of life. Saying goodbye has without a doubt been the hardest part of growing up. But you know what? It was so worth it. I wouldn’t trade the childhood that I had for anything. All the trips. The moves. The homes in different parts of the world. All that has made me who I am, and has contributed to my spiritual, emotional and relational well-being. I wouldn’t trade that for anything, even if goodbyes were hard.
This is post #13 of the 30 post challenge!