What does it mean that I have so many seasonal relationships? Well, in a simple unpolished way to say it, good byes don’t stress me out. I appear to move on to the next quite easily. To some people, these statements might seem rather harsh and offensive, so I’d like to explain what my life is like living from season to season of relationships and experiences.
I started to realize that I’m a mover… (I’ll call myself a mover, because I see myself as someone who moves through life pretty fluidly, but the point is, I move. I don’t stay in one place. I don’t stay with the same relationships, at least so far this has been the case.) anyways, I realized that I’m a mover when I noticed that most all my close friends have only been in my life for two or three years. I do have some veteran friends that I still enjoy seeing on a regular basis who have been in my life for going on eight years now, but like I said, they’re the veterans. Some people I meet have friends that they’ve known and enjoyed since they were in third grade or younger. This is a foreign concept to me.
I started moving at a young age. My parents were movers so I guess it makes sense that I value new places, people, experiences, compared to staying in the same all your life. My first friends were Sarah, Yuri, Andrew and Aaron, Kirsten and Adina, and Stephanie. My dad was going to school in New York and these were all kids my age who lived in the big apartment building that was Married Student Housing. Next we moved to Colorado and stayed there for eight years. You can make a lot of friends in eight years so I don’t think I’ll even supposed to name all of them, but just to make this seem more personal, Chris, Sheena, Chelsea, Tabitha and Amy are all fondly remembered.
In the middle of eight grade, my family up and moved again, this time to eastern Ioway. Again, many great friends were made, some really had a great impact on who I was, and who I became. When I graduated from high school, people cried because they… well actually I don’t really understand why they cried. I didn’t cry. I left everyone I knew from Iowa and went to school out of state.
This is when I started to see the pattern that everywhere I have gone before, I’ve been able to make friends. This is also when I began subconsciously trusting that God would continue this pattern. The older I got, the more significant and meaningful my friendships became, and yet many of them were still seasonal. I studied abroad in Africa and for four months grew very close with some of the other American students with whom I lived, simply because we were processing some interesting and difficult cultural issues. I was an RA and for a year greatly depended on an amazing staff of five other staff members. Finally, spending a year in Tanzania also presented itself with the same opportunity for some amazing, yet still seasonal, relationships.
I supposed that I can stop talking about my context of moving around. The point is: I have many people whom I still consider great friends, but to whom I have also had to bid farewell and I can realistically say aren’t a part of my life anymore.
I have thought about what it is in me that allows me to feel little stress and emotional discomfort at saying good bye, and this is with what I have come up:
- I said earlier that I appear to move to the next chapter in my life quite easily. I said that I appear this way because on the outside I can say good bye to a dear friend without crying. I have also learned from experience to not make empty promises of staying in touch when I know that I don’t do this well. Sometimes I’ll be honest about this reality and it comes across as cold. Icey, in fact. However, I actually have a rather vivid memory. If you and I were once close friends, I have remembered you very fondly many times since we have parted ways, reliving the times we laughed, or the meaningful things we have said to one another that changed my life. And I plan to continue this habit.
- I have Brandon. Knowing that I have one friend who knows me better than anyone else who will be with me, Lord willing, for… well for a very long time, helps. It means that even if we go somewhere where nobody knows us, I’m still with someone who knows me.
- I know that the reality of friends leaving my life means that they are moving on to a new experience where they will gain more meaningful relationships. Because I know they are doing this, I feel the freedom to do and expect the same for myself without feeling guilty that they might be jealous of “being replaced”.
I just started thinking about this again because the school year is ending and some of the seasonal relationships that I have had over the past few years will be drawing to an end, at least an end to what they have been. August will come soon enough and there will be new seasonal relationships to enjoy at the very beginning of the season. Sometimes it seems exhausting to think about it: closing and opening so many relationships so quickly… but it is the nature of my job. And I’ve spent the last how many previous paragraphs proving to you that the seasonal nature of my job fits me… but it doesn’t mean I don’t think about it. I think about it, because I know many other people, some of them being my friends, do not enjoy saying good bye and transitioning to new seasons. They teach me a lot actually. I’m excited to see what they might teach me through this upcoming season of good byes and transition. Maybe they’ll teach me how to do a better and more meaningful good bye? Maybe they’ll teach me how to be intentional in an active friendship after good bye?