This week I’m thinking about how to work through sadness when our time with someone comes to an end. A very good friend of mine announced the other day that he was leaving North America to pursue a dream. I felt so frustrated at this news, and as I worked through my feelings, I realized that he had given me the opportunity to reflect again on the importance of letting go.
I have had to let go many times in my life. As someone with a strong vision of how I want my life to unfold, I sometimes reach a point in my relationships where I have to prioritize my dreams over a relationship continuing on its current path. Expecting a friendship to stay the same forever, for neither person to grow, move, or prioritize a dream that excludes the other party, is a recipe for disappointment and stifles both parties.
We have chapters in our lives—some of them, much like childhood, adolescence, or early parenthood, are clearly defined. But in my experience, sometimes they’re more ambiguous, and it’s only when I’ve been willing to do the work of letting go that I truly understand a chapter has closed. Letting go means realizing that I sometimes cross paths with people, we have the beautiful opportunity to grow as human beings together, and then our paths continue in different directions.
I find it hard to let go of relationships that have been nourishing to me and the other party. It’s easy for me to resent someone else’s dream, especially when it’s clear that their dream is more important and meaningful to them than everything they’re leaving behind—including me.
But expecting someone to sacrifice part of themselves so they can fit into the role I’ve assigned to them, isn’t friendship—it’s simply unrealistic and, if I’m being honest, selfish. And yet I can end up thinking this way if I’m not careful.
I’ve found that the stronger my own dream and purpose and my sense of what’s important in my life, the less likely I am to resent someone else’s purpose and vision. I wonder if it’s particularly important for women to remember that our lives are our own—that we can set our own course and not only exist in service to others. We need to pursue what makes our own lives meaningful; that way when others do the same, we won’t feel betrayed, but rather inspired.
So to me, the process of letting go involves having a strong purpose and a strong respect for other people’s purposes, and enjoying every moment you have with them while your paths are crossing. We all know that nothing lasts forever—but for me, I sometimes need a reminder of why that’s okay.