Do you have to say goodbye to everything?

I never travelled much as a kid. I moved house only once before I came to university. For various reasons, the only time I had been on holiday was when I was five.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to travel. In fact, it makes me want to travel even more. I chose to do a language degree and a ‘Teach English as a Foreign Language’ (TEFL) course specifically so that I can travel. The desire for adventure has always been in me, which, I think, accounts for my minimalism. I believe it gives me freedom.

A few weeks ago, I said goodbye to the place where I had been staying for a year. I said goodbye to all of the stuff I had given away. I said goodbye to the people that I would never see again, and the people that had become my friends.

It’s always difficult to say goodbye, and it makes sentimental people like me feel a tiny bit heartbroken everytime.

  • It’s easier to not buy something, than to let go of something old.
  • It’s easier to meet new people, than to say goodbye to friends.
  • It’s easier to visit a new place, than to leave a familiar place.

But it would be impossible (and very boring) to live a life where you never bought anything, met anyone or went anywhere. Slowly I realised, if it hurts so much, why even say goodbye? ‘Goodbye’ is sad, it’s another way of saying ‘I’ll never see you again’.

One of the most essential ‘skills’ a minimalist can have is the ability to let go. If you attach enormous amounts of emotional baggage to everything and everyone, you’ll have little left for yourself.

So instead, why not think a little differently? The people you will never see again will continue with their own lives, so wouldn’t it be better to wish them ‘Good luck‘? Or if it’s a place where you spent a lot of time, how about ‘thanks for the memories‘. Sometimes, it’s difficult to say goodbye to our things, like old clothes for example, but even if it sounds silly it really helps to think ‘thanks, and now you can go to someone who will find a better use for you‘.

This summer, I will be leaving home to go abroad to a far away place for a whole year. Just like this past year, I know there will inevitably be many people and places that will come in and out of my life. I can either:

  • get too attached to them, and be upset when I have to leave,
  • or I can enjoy it while it lasts and depart with a smile and a headful of great memories.

Do you have to say goodbye to everything? Or can you say goodbye without having to say it?

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  • Aberinkulas

    When my parents divorced in my senior year of high school (which was not long ago; I am also a college student) I was forced to say goodbye to many things. The house that I lived in for three years. The dog that I loved and cared for. The neighborhood I enjoyed walking in.

    But I also had to say goodbye to other things that weren’t so concrete. Financial stability was no longer a given, for example.

    In times like that, when there is very sudden change and no turning back, I remind myself that the past is only a memory. It is not real. What is real is the present.

    So I dealt with the real and I let go of many things in my life that I cared for, and I moved onward to new pastures.

  • Reading your post made me wonder if minimalism can be sometimes related to a person’s avoidance of emotional attachments to people. Just a thought.
    Holding on some things from the past – memories, friendships, even those mementos of very important events – is important to my sanity. These things sustain me in the rough times of the present.
    There’s a balance.

    • minimalstudent

      Hi Aberinkulas, thank you so much for sharing your story.

      Hi Debbie, I agree with you, there is definitely a fine line between avoidance of emotional attachment because of fear and because of the gains from minimalism. You’ve definitely brought up an interesting point I want to write about, I hope you don’t mind me using your comment in my next post!


  • Aberinkulas

    In response to Debbie:

    Minimalism is not a void. It is the reduction down to what is necessary and what is most important, to give it its dues.

    This is why I spend time with my family and friends. These things are important to me, above other things in my life that are, while enjoyable, not quite as meaningful.

    As it was said in the blog post, you can either avoid that goodbye by avoiding that confrontation altogether (the minimalism-as-void idea), or you can embrace the light when it is dark.

    To Jessica, sorry if I stole any of your future blogging points.

  • nicole 86

    Well, last year I had to say goodby to my previous life, to my house ( where I have been living for 30 years), to financial stabilitity …. I do not call it “divorce” but “repudiation”. In three weeks time, almost all was gone. Espescially so-called friends and in-laws.

    Now, i am 59, next year I will be retired, and do not know where I will choose to live. This is a great challenge ! I am not sentimental about stuff and i will keep very little. The only thing which I find difficult is to find the right spot.

    nicole from France

  • When ever I move to a new place I usually don’t have that nagging feeling of leaving. For me, I am always so excited to explore a new part of the world.

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  • Shuli

    I really enjoyed reading this. I have always gotten very attached to places and times in my life. I can remember my grandparents’ home vividly and for years, would dream of my childhood home. When I see these places now, I get very emotional and sad because they are not the same, other people live there now, etc. I have been living on my own for several years and get anxious at the thought that I will move someday. I have created memories there and while I know life changes, I can’t help but tear up when faced with the reality that nothing lasts forever. I have never moved from my hometown but there is a chance I might. Rationally, I *know* that it could be a great opportunity. I’m still under 30, am single and don’t have any kids yet… So now is the time to explore. BUT I’m terrified! I have an interview tomorrow for a job in another city (that I really like) and I’m going through with it even though the possibility of moving scares me to death. I try to focus on the positive and the new adventures that lie ahead, the things I will be able to do in that new city that I cannot accomplish here, etc… But there’s still a wall up for me. I always admired those who could move from place to place, seemingly effortlessly. What’s the secret?! I guess it’s finding the balance, learning to let go, and psychologically calming yourself down… I’m just not quite there yet!!!