How to come to terms with change
The Saturday before I left Montreal over a year ago now, my friends threw me a goodbye party. And by friends threw me one I mean they suggested it and then I proceeded to make a Facebook event for myself titled “au revoir Montreal.” Au revoir, of course, can also mean “goodbye for now”. Before I left, I’d been thinking about returning to Montreal after my travels. I tried to understand the motive behind it – whether it had to do with comforting myself with regards to leaving, or whether it had to do with just really loving my yoga studio (read: huge crush on my yoga teacher).
I’d never been someone to fear change. I always thought it meant you weren’t adventurous or that you were choosing the easier path and that, to me, seemed cowardly. Yet, here I was: so lucky to embark on this crazy adventure through Europe and all I could think about was where I wanted to settle once I returned in September. All I could think about was the life I was leaving behind, the people, the person who I knew wouldn’t come back the same once I took off. Was that what was scaring me?
Growth doesn’t happen in the comfort of routine. It’s easy to continue with your life the way it is because things are working well for you. And sometimes that’s okay for a period of time, routine is good – but your twenties are also the time to uproot. This is when you don’t have real commitments, a family, a career. It would have been so easy to say to myself I’ll stay in Montreal for another year, find a job, move apartments, and keep on with the life I created there, and then that year could have turned into another and another and somehow five, maybe ten years would have passed and suddenly I would find myself unhappy and realizing that I never got to do the trip I’d always wanted. Maybe that’s a huge exaggeration but you get my point.
I went to McGill because I was unhappy in Toronto. I went to Newcastle on exchange in my third year because I was unhappy at McGill. And then? I decided to go on a trip not because I was unhappy or trying to run away from anything, but just because I wanted to. Funny how things work sometimes. So I said au revoir to Montreal, maybe for good, maybe for a few years, who knows. I’m slowly learning what it means to hold in your heart multiple places as home.
Some tips to making saying goodbye a little easier:
1) A friend once said to me, “the best advice I ever got was leave a place before you’re ready to”. If you leave when you're ready, your final memories will be different than if you leave when you're not.
2) Do what you have to do in order to feel a bit more okay about saying goodbye. Whether that’s making a card, having a last goodbye party, making a to-do list before you depart.
3) Start packing slowly. You might be in denial about leaving and then it’s Sunday night and you realize you have a whole apartment to pack up. Instead, use packing as a process to come to terms with leaving. Start a few weeks in advance as mental preparation, and then by that Sunday night you’ll realize your life is in boxes and you’re still doing okay.
4)Think about the things you have to look forward to with whatever your next step is.
5) Don’t feel like it has to be the biggest deal in the world. I’m a sentimentalist. I like emotional goodbyes, I like kisses in the rain, tears at the airport, waving until the car disappears at the end of the road. But not everyone is like that and sometimes it’s easier to just not make goodbye such a big deal. Especially nowadays you’re never really leaving a place because we’re all so connected still through social media. So give your place or your person a quick hug, maybe a kiss on the cheek, smile and say “au revoir” as if your goodbye is just a goodbye for now.