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Localization manager/translator and coach/intercultural consultant living in Berlin (Germany), passionate about diversity management and intercultural communication, self-awareness and coaching, SFBT and NVC, languages, cultures, body art, dancing, self-empowerment, and, last but not least, vegan gluten-free keto food and good movies. How about you?
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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Charlie Brown's life philosophy about goodbyes

In a big city like Berlin, people come and go on a regular basis and it is very common to get to know someone that is just not going to stay and become part of one's life.

At the very same time that someone is moving to Berlin, someone else is leaving the city (and maybe the second one is going to live in the flat where the first one was used to live as well... but this is another story). 

[One of the ultimate movies about saying goodbye:
The Sound of Music (1965) by Robert Wise]

Someone stays here for a couple of years while studying, someone else spends only a couple of weeks because of a project. 
Someone decides to live in the city because of its opportunities, someone else goes away while getting a better job.
Someone attends an interesting and convenient workshop, someone else wants to travel around the world with a one-way ticket.
Someone rents an apartment while being in love with someone else, someone else relocates to another country after a break-up. And so on.

No biggie, after a while. It becomes your "new" normal and you take into account that whoever you met, is not going to stay. At the beginning, it was a very different story.

[So many languages, the same situation:
someone is going away. How to deal with a goodbye?]

Having to experience a goodbye after the other and meeting someone amazing and being forced to say farewell after only little time together was harrowing to me, also because as an expat new to the city, it was not easy at all to befriend people and the impression was "Gosh, another person is leaving... I will never ever be able to make some friends here!".

Over time, I just got used to it and I consider it pretty normal now. People come, people go. Most of the time, they stay here a little and then go somewhere else, for some months or sometimes for good. 

Friends, friends of friends, colleagues and former colleagues, neighbors, people I learned German with... I would say that more than 50% of people I got to know in the last four years in Berlin has left the city already. 

How to deal with a situation like this?
Some people just stop to show interest for others, while thinking that they are going away very soon anyway.

[Goodbyes Vs. Hellos
Charlie Brown's life philosophy is a good one!]

Like Charlie Brown, I prefer to keep saying hello. I choose to enjoy every minute I can spend with people I like before they are going to leave, and to consider every minute spent together like a gift I got somehow and I am grateful for.
It doesn't matter that the person is not here to stay. She is here, right now, in front of me, and I can choose between wasting this moment with her or enjoying it. And I pick "enjoying the moment", of course.

Knowing that I am not going to have a lot of chances to see the person again makes me appreciate the time together even more, because I don't take it for granted. And also because I am happy to have had the chance to meet the person in the first place, no matter for how long. As Bill Nye says:

Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don't. 

So meeting someone is a chance to discover something new, to think about things in a different way, to do something that I would not have done otherwise, and this is priceless to me.

[You can think otherwise, of course, but...
I strongly believe that we always meet each other for a reason.
Even if we don't like the reason, sometimes]

And yet in the last couple of years, I started to think about the goodbye part a lot more. In the past, I sometimes tried to forget that a goodbye was going to happen and to focus on the present moment instead, as already said.

Lately, I came to realize instead that the way someone is going to say - or not to say - goodbye tells a lot about the person, about his/her relationship with me and also whether it makes sense or not to stay in touch with the person after he/she will not be in Berlin any longer.

Is the person organizing the last party for everybody? Or is the last evening in town reserved for very few good friends?
Is he/she going to call me one more time? Or to send me a message or a customized e-mail? Or to just post something on some social network for the whole world to read?

[Saying hello to a stranger can be daunting, and yet...
if we are going to meet somewhere, I will say hello.
And then smile]

Are they actually going to tell me that they are leaving, at all? If no, why? If yes, how?
Are we going to see each other once again, somewhere, in some place? If no, why? If yes, how?
And is this important to me or not at all?

[How are we going to not see each other ever again?]

Like in a movie, where the end determines what the movie is all about and which kind of message the movie delivers, I consider now the goodbye a very good relationships indicator. Sometimes it hurts, but in a good way because, in the long run, I prefer to know that something is broken or not worth a goodbye, after all.

Are you good at saying goodbye?

Tags: Goodbye, Saying goodbye, Relationships, Quotes, Life as an expat

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