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Saying Goodbye to One Adventure Is Saying Hello to Another

Dawn of a New Day

“If you’re brave enough to say goodbye, life will reward you with a new hello.” ~Paulo Coelho

When I was born, the nurse lifted me from the bed, placed me on a cold metal operating table, and prepped my umbilical cord to be severed. As my parents put it, I “screamed bloody murder” when she attended to me, then grabbed ahold of the index finger of her latex glove and pulled it clean off.

“You just wouldn’t let go,” my dad recalls, chuckling.

That often-told family tale has risen to consciousness many times during the last few months, especially when I’ve found myself overwhelmed, fearful, and grief-stricken at the task of saying goodbye.

Goodbye to my first love, each of my beloved college friends, my wonderful university and creative writing program, to the Pacific Northwest, and more importantly to a time of my life that had a big role in bearing me into the woman I am today.

Goodbye, because I picked up and moved to Berkeley, CA to explore, to live, to find new joy. As the move became more real, every “so long” brought with it the coldness of surgical steel at my back, a wet cry, an unwavering grip on those places and people I love.

The thing about letting go is that it’s unnatural to most and must be learned with great patience and persistence.

Perhaps it’s difficult because we need attachment to survive—babies need their mothers and the rest of the “village” to thrive physically and emotionally, to adjust to life beyond the womb.

But letting go is worth learning, because it means risk, and with risk comes growth.

I crave growth. I crave new experience. I crave adventure. And as much as I loved Bellingham, it wasn’t supplying me with the tools to be happy.

I want to be a well-known writer, I want to see the world, I want to learn new stories and sing songs with strangers. I just couldn’t do that in a small, bayside city of people I know well. But the inevitability (even predictability) of this goodbye couldn’t make it any easier.

Intentionally letting go is not any less excruciating than doing so subconsciously, and I would be remiss if I told you so. It requires we savor not only sweet beginnings, but also bitter endings. It requires we face fear and grief in the face, rather than burying them deep.

The day I left Bellingham, I sat in the middle of the floor of my empty apartment bawling. Whereas we are taught to stay strong, to hold tears in, to look forward with no impulse to go back, I allowed myself a moment to be achingly present in the memories and attachment I have to that place.

I remembered drinking wine on floor with my roommates until the wee hours; writing story after story on my bedroom carpet; lying in bed and talking most the night with the first boy I’ve ever really loved.

Okay, so maybe I’m a sap. Or perhaps even a masochist. But I’ve found that if you give fear and grief the time of day, gratefulness and joy greet you on the other side.

Endings just want to be acknowledged, just want you to pause and remember how beautiful life can be. In that way, how you deal with endings can become a litmus test for how mindfully you are living.

So, I challenge you to see change not with dread, but as a chance to remember how beautiful your life has been, is, and will continue to be. And whenever you say “so long,” keep an eye out for that new hello. It will come.

I know it’s true as I sit in a sunny Berkeley coffee shop writing, musing on the courage it took to get me here and watching a little boy in denim overalls holding tight to the hand of his “Papa!” To all this new adventure, joy and love, I say hello, hello, hello.

Photo by nevena kukoljac

About Alexa Peters

Alexa Peters graduated with honors and a BA in Creative Writing from Western Washington University. She’s contributed to Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls At the Party, Middle Women, Elohi Gadugi Journal, and What’s Up! Music Magazine. When she isn't writing, Alexa plays Thelonious Monk, snuggles dogs and eats tiramisu as often as possible. To read more, visit her blog: itsallwritebyme.wordpress.com.

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  • Lindsay

    I really enjoyed this post and I also really needed to hear it, thanks for writing!

  • tulipgirl

    Great post and very timely! Thanks for reminding us with the message.

  • cas

    Very timely! I know I need to say goodbye to someone, not for always, but in the way I “am” with someone I care about. My mind knows it, but my heart fights it.

  • Alexa Peters

    I feel you! Hope my words could help you sort things out, cas….

  • Alexa Peters

    Thank you, tulipgirl! I appreciate you taking the time to give it a read 🙂

  • Alexa Peters

    You are more than welcome, Lindsay! 🙂

  • Jeanne

    Wow, your words could not have come at a better time for me – thank you! I too, picked up my life – left my east coast world behind 6 months ago to start fresh in CA – have savored every moment of being in the “new” world, but still having a hard time. Maybe it is just time to say a final goodbye.

  • Shelby

    Great article….the title really caught my eye.

  • Life’s full of endings, it’s important to have a what’s next.

  • Alexa Peters

    Sure is. Thanks for reading, Peter.

  • Alexa Peters

    Glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for reading, Shelby!

  • Alexa Peters

    Glad my words spoke to you, Jeanne. Good luck with that fresh start and thanks for reading!

  • Magdelena Nazario

    This really hit home. Friday is my last day of work and I will be leaving a school I’ve been teaching at for ten years. Scared, but hopeful and excited to pursue a new calling. Everything you wrote here is how I feel and I really want to thank you for expressing your thoughts in this way because it has helped a random California gal with a huge sensitive heart! xo

  • Carolynne Melnyk

    Ending and beginning, the cycle of life. Some easy and some difficult! Each one is for a reason. Thanks for sharing your inspiring post! Enjoy all your new adventures.

  • Danielle Dinh

    I can tell that you will be a great writer, Alexa. This article was highly enjoyable and I wish you luck in your future plans. =)

  • Erica

    This post is timely for me too as I have elected to take voluntary redundancy after working as a lecturer for 15 yrs in the same college. I was pushed into taking on more work than I would have liked after my partner was made redundant 5 yrs ago. I have hated the work I have been doing (teaching teenagers with challenging behaviour). In fact I was so unhappy that I started an ‘alternative life’ teaching art on-line, initially as a means of escape from my daily life. As I now prepare to leave my job and work full time on what is now an embryonic business, I was struggling to feel anything other than relief at leaving. Your article has made me rethink. However awful the last 5 yrs have been, I’m grateful to this job for providing a secure income for my family through very difficult times. I can now say thanks and move on to a new adventure!

  • Vallen Dior Pilgrim

    I need to hear this now. I too crave adventure and I feel like my current one (me moving to Rome, Italy) is ending far sooner than I had wanted it to or hoped that it would and I’m having trouble not being a little depressed about it which sucks because I’m in freaking ROME and I should be out exploring and enjoying my time here but all I can see is that the life that I was trying to build here isn’t coming together and I am so sad to say goodbye. All I can think about is how much I DON’T want to leave this city and how much I dread returning to the U.S…. (sigh) but this article may have helped me a little. I know everything is happening as it should and I have t learn to trust that… it’s just easier some time as opposed to other times and this is one of these less easy times… But thank you for your article. It helped put things into perspective a little.