The time has come to say so long and see you soon, my fellow Rookies. Goodbyes have never been easy for me, but understanding that they’re rarely permanent can help us move on.
For the last six months, I’ve been documenting my run-ins with feelings, and you’ve been wonderful and curious and open and compassionate, sharing your own struggles and emotions in the comments here and in my email and Twitter DMs and every other social media I have.
It’s been an incredible honor to lead up these chats during this series, and to have helped one or two of you feel less alone in a confusing and loud world.
We’ve talked about letting ourselves feel the whole scope of emotions, about being overwhelmed by the same scope, and about coping with those emotions when they big and unwieldy. We talked about being scared to hope, about feelings about feelings, and about spiraling down when we can’t seem to get up. We discovered that having feelings doesn’t make us failures, and that even if we fail a New Year’s resolution, we’re still awesome. We talked about grief and death, about anger and life, about belonging, crying, and apologizing.
To round out the series, I’d like to talk about goodbyes, and how they seem so final, but never really are (you can’t get rid of me that easily).
I’ve struggled with goodbyes as long as I can remember; when I was a kid, I’d stress for days after leaving school for the summer, assuming all my friends would forget about me over the three months of not seeing each other every day. At the end of a weeklong summer camp, I’d be depressed for days, thinking I’d lost all the friends I’d made.
At the end of seventh grade, one of my friends moved to Spain with his family. That was one of the first times, other than a family death, that I remember thinking I’d never see someone I cared about again. Before he left, we all went to see the Truman Show, and I got so dizzy and so full of feelings that I threw up. On the way home, I cried to my mom about losing a friend and she looked at me like I was an overreacting pre-teen (I was) who was looking for attention (I wasn’t).
I didn’t know what to do with those feelings, so I decided getting close like that to people was a bad idea. It left me wide open to hurt when they decided to leave.
Because what are we afraid of when we say goodbye to someone? That they’ll think of us fondly every day, remembering our times together? No! We’re worried they’re going to forget everything we built together, everything that was important to us.
This whole situation also touches on a personal phenomenon I’m still dealing with today: For some reason, I assume that if I’m not directly interacting with someone, they would never think of me, they’d never even remember my name. It blows my mind every time someone says, “I was thinking of you the other day…”
I’ve been working on accepting the idea that people do think of me, probably in both good and bad terms. But they also don’t think about me as much as I think about me – hello, Spotlight Effect – so I have to assume there’s some Goldilocks level of Thinking About Molly Priddy that exists. (Truth alert: Even writing that paragraph above makes me feel gross because it assumes people think about me and I assume that makes me selfish. See how that works?)
So, for those of you keeping score at home, goodbyes are scary because a) they mean we won’t see that person every day, and b) that could mean they won’t think of us. While (a) may be true, I have learned over the last decade or so that (b) is patently false.
Whether you like the idea or you’d rather throw it out the window of a fast-moving car, people do think about you. Even if you’re not together, you’ll cross their mind for a plethora of reasons. How do I know this? Because people are on my mind all the time. Constantly. The people I love, the people I like, those I consider my friends, those I consider dangerous; the people who motivate me, the people who scare me, the people who love me, and the people I want to love. They’re all there, even the people who have died.
And you’re there too, fellow Rookies. The notes and thoughts and memories you’ve shared stay alive in my mind, and I appreciate them all.
After 31 years, I know that goodbyes, even in death, are rarely the end of the story. Life is dynamic, and those of us unlucky enough to not be psychic can’t say what the future will bring.
That seventh grade friend I assumed I’d never see again – perhaps that would have been the case if the Internet and Facebook had never been invented. Now I see him all the time on my computer (and on my TV now that he’s a successful actor and not living in Spain anymore), and I understand the look my mom was giving me as I cried about my friend leaving.
She was side-eyeing my teenager reactions, sure, but she was also trying to tell me it’s only goodbye if I wanted it to be, that life is about making connections and working to maintain them. It’s also such a wild ride that you never know where you’ll end up or who will end up there with you.
Even this goodbye, this one you’re reading right now, it’s only temporary. This series may have run its course, but wild horses couldn’t keep me away from Autostraddle. So keep your eyes peeled, reach out, say hello, and remember: Even if it might feel like it sometimes, you’re never alone.