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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