International educators around the world are spending the next few weeks saying goodbye. They will say goodbye to colleagues, students, cities, and countries. Some of them aren’t doing the moving, but are still losing important friends and much-loved students who are transitioning to new adventures.
We all handle these transitions differently. I am here to say that I am a failure at leaving well. However, I acknowledge this fault of mine and am working to be better in learning to leave well.
A few examples of my failures at leaving over the years…
High school graduation– I actually called the Peace Corps to see if they would take me far away from the only place I’d ever lived. They told me to get a degree.
University– I left at the end of my second year. I was meant to take a gap year (or 3). Once I completely wasted my parents’ money on 2 years of not going to class, I burned every friendship and loaded my car with junk that I would eventually toss out. Hurting people I had grown to love seemed to be the best option for me. No one was sorry to see me go. Therefore, no one made me feel guilty for leaving.
The United States– I left my first teaching job to go overseas for the first time. I had a husband, a baby on the way, and an exciting future in front of me. I’m not even sure I said goodbye. It might have been more like, “nanny, nanny, boo, boo – you’re stuck here and I am seeing the world!” Classy, right?
Saudi Arabia– This was hard. I had been there for 10 years- a quarter of my life! My children were raised there. I had a group of friends who were like family. The last year and a half was a blur made up mostly of me ruining relationships with dear friends. I didn’t know how to say goodbye. It was so awkward. I was so awkward. Plus I turned 40- I wasn’t in my right mind last year.
Seoul– Only one year later, this should be easy. I didn’t have time to forge forever friendships (although I did). I was hoping we would spend the next 7 years of our life in Seoul, but I just didn’t fit in here. So far, I have declined a final girls’ night out and the option of making a video about our time here. I was planning to tiptoe out and hope that no one notices. It doesn’t look like I am learning from my past mistakes.
Leaving well is hard for some, easy for others. I think it is important to bring closure to a job, a community, a country. I haven’t figured out why it’s so hard for me, but I need to learn to leave better. I will begin now by saying…
Thank you to those who learned and laughed with me.
I am grateful for the experiences and the adventure.
I grew as a learner, a leader, a friend.
We grew as a family.
Let me know if you have any helpful hints for leaving well. I love learning from others.
PS- If you haven’t made your own Bitmoji, what are you waiting for?!