Eleven years ago, on a sticky August night, I hugged my best friends goodbye in my parents' driveway. I squeezed them tightly and breathed them in, capturing their exactness - trying to remember the details.
Freshman year of college loomed in front of us and, as much as I tried, I couldn't get my brain around how I felt. I understood things were changing. I felt sad to say goodbye. But my hope and excitement clashed greatly with the departure and the unknown. I kept wondering:
Is saying goodbye supposed to feel this hard? Does it mean I'm not supposed to move forward?
A few years ago, I walked away from a relationship. Hobbled, actually. But, it was over and, familiar with breakups, I stood up, dusted myself off and began to move on.
Eight months later, my heart still hurt. I ached with loneliness on Saturday nights and, almost worse, missed the mundane - the grocery shopping and how-was-your-day recaps. I knew we'd made the right choice, but the hole it left behind refused to be filled, leaving me asking myself:
If it was supposed to end, why does it feel so hard?
This week, I began saying goodbyes at work. It didn't bring the weight of leaving high school or the heaviness of a breakup with it, but I found myself swirling in the same question: If I'm this sad to say goodbye, am I really supposed to walk away?
On Wednesday, I sat at our dining room table, finishing up work and circling around that question, over and over, indulging fear and doubt a little more with each passing moment. And then, like an arrow intersecting my swirling brain, a question surfaced in response:
Who said it was supposed to be easy?
I once read that every decision has an arrow attached to it. As that question came to surface, I realized I had to decide. I could swirl in doubt, digging up what I planted in faith, or, I could do the hard thing. Say the tough goodbyes. Cry the big tears.
With each one of those hard decisions, comes another step toward this dream I'm working on.
It's my favorite when everything falls into place. When the answer is obvious and the choice is clear. When life gives you stepping stones and bread crumbs to follow. But, I'm learning that sometimes the path isn't quite clear and the choice is hard.
Sometimes we have to say goodbye when it hurts and have a little more grit than we expected. Sometimes, we have to loosen our grips and let go when we aren't sure if we're ready. To approach life with open hands and be unafraid to say: OK, I will give you that, even if I'm not quite sure what will happen next.
Each day, I'm learning that there is beauty in the unknown and more growth than we could imagine in leaving our comfort zones.