Before I kick it off this post on ‘Why saying goodbye is the hardest thing you’ll do when you travel?’, some of you may be aware that Marco has now returned home, while I’ve continued on my journey down the western side of South America. Throughout my trip, there have been various topics that I had wanted to share my thoughts on. Here’s the first one, I hope you enjoy it, and I look forward to your comments below.
Whether it’s a loved one or a friend.
One of the biggest challenges I’ve encountered so far on my journey is having to say ‘goodbye’. Whether you’re traveling with a loved one and there comes the point where you both must part separate ways, or it’s leaving friends you’ve made along the way that you’ve connected with instantly.
Saying goodbye is never easy; it just never is.
Saying goodbye is never easy; it just never is. Unless you’re some heartless robot, no matter how ‘tough’ you think or ’emotionless’, you might describe yourself. No human can deny feeling some level of emotions when you bid farewell – giving them that last hug or wave as they turn their backs and walk off into the distance.
The reason is our human need to belong.
This feeling of fear and/or angst is innate in all of us as it comes from our human instinct of needing to belong. Belonging is essential to our survival, and we thrive on building connections. Not only us humans, but we see this throughout nature, whether it’s a colony of ants or even the lone wolf, at times will need to find its pack. Therefore the moment we isolate ourselves from these connections does our mind and body trigger a panic signal.
It’s the feeling at the pit of your stomach.
When you’re traveling on your own, this is especially difficult. Loneliness can be deafening, and there’s this unsettling sensation that kicks in. It’s almost an upset stomach, but it’s not from the food last night. It’s more of a nervousness feeling at the pit of your stomach.
Your head’s racing with thoughts.
And soon enough, your thoughts start to flood your mind with: ‘why am I doing this?’ ‘what am I doing by myself – don’t I have friends?’. Which of course, leads to you thinking ‘is it safe?’ or they’re more the existential questions: ‘what do I really want in life’, ‘what’s my purpose?” etc. Of course, some of these questions are valid.
What I’ve learned so far in my experience.
What I’ve learned so far (and I’m still learning as I’m no maestro) is to sit with this discomfort—being able to understand and get clear on what is actual feelings vs. thoughts. Sometimes we blur them both which clouds our judgement of understanding what is it that we need. I’ve noticed in my own life that the majority of the time, I’ve distracted myself. Whenever I would feel this discomfort, I would immediately ‘flight’ or ‘fight’ rather than accept and take it in for what it was.
How saying goodbyes will be easier.
With the ‘always on’ culture and constant 24/7 stimulation we see in society today. We’ve never taught ourselves to be comfortable in our presence and space. We’ve always prioritized the importance of always needing to be connected and that being alone is frowned upon. I’ve come to understand that we need a balance. Maybe being comfortable in ourselves and finding acceptance in the discomfort will make saying goodbyes a little easier.
Thank you for reading my post. Follow my Instagram account @wheres.wang to be updated daily on my travels. If you’re interested, you can also check out one of my others post on why I decided to travel through South America for my sabbatical. Learn More.