How to Say Goodbye

For graduating high school seniors, much excitement comes with the month of May: prom, awards ceremonies, senior trips, yearbook signings, and of course, graduation. With graduation, though, comes something that many seniors try to push out of their minds: the days when they actually have to say goodbye.

We spend so much time counting down until the end, we don’t realize how quickly we’ll be leaving our hometowns and our friends. Prior to actually leaving, we think we can manage. We know that we won’t see our friends as often, but we feel okay about it. Reality doesn’t hit us hard until later, when we’re packing our suitcases, when we’re watching the final sunset at our last summer barbecue, when we’re moving into our dorms, when we’re spending our first Friday night surrounded by people other than the ones we’ve known forever. Fall 2011 010

How can we possibly say “goodbye” when we don’t even realize how much will change? How can we possibly say “goodbye” when we know that it will hurt us?

Not everything has to change. “Goodbye” doesn’t have to hurt. Actually, “goodbye” doesn’t even really have to be goodbye.

We’ll be living in different locations, perhaps miles apart or right next to each other. We’ll be surprised how much we can grow apart from the people who are right beside us, and how close we can grow to the people who move so far away.

We’ll be seeing the sun set from a new location, in a location that will weirdly soon become home. Or something like that.

We could be sharing rooms with total strangers who become best friends or spending Friday nights at new places that we could become regulars at or studying new subjects that could become our majors.

The possibilities are endless.

And that’s true for everything we already knew, too.

We don’t have to prepare a huge “goodbye”, because we’re not truly leaving. Not really. Our friendships will change and evolve in the endless cycle that they’ve always had, our communication will take on new forms, our interactions with people from high school will be less common.

But that doesn’t erase all of the friendships we’ve had. Today, we can stay in touch with someone from across the world. It doesn’t matter if our best friends are going to school in our hometowns or in a different country; we have a way of talking to them. Though time differences make communication difficult and face-to-face interactions become less common, we still can share our stories with our friends from high school.

We have Google Hangout, Skype, Facetime, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, emails, text messages, phone calls, letters, postcards. And while those things will take some adjustment-those things won’t feel the same as before-we have the ability to stay in touch in so many ways.

Bad breakup? Have a Skype date with your best friend.
Need advice? Call someone.
Want to laugh? Look at the ridiculous Snapchat your friend sent you.

In a world full of touch screens, we can stay in touch. And though it may feel less personal at times, as we’re watching the sun set on opposite sides of the country at different times and in different places, we’re still connected. By our pasts. And by as much effort we put into the present.

Of course, we’ll be busy. We won’t have the time to constantly communicate with all of our friends from high school. But behind the screen of the Instagram posts of our best friends hanging out with strangers, intermixed with the tweets that sound like they came from someone else, beneath the new makeup and the new piercings we see on Skype, stand the people we knew so well. The people who will always be a part of our stories. The people we grew up with. The people who are growing and changing, just like us.
Changing and moving on doesn’t have to mean goodbye.
We can grow separately, as individuals, yet still stand by one another.
Our friends will change. We’ll change. They’ll grow. We’ll grow. But that doesn’t mean we automatically say goodbye the moment we step away from each other; we’re surrounded by an entire world. And yet, if the world seems too big or if the world seems too small, the friends we’ve known forever are just a quick phone call or text message away.


Paige Sheffield

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