If you’re an 80s punk rock fan like I am, you should definitely pull out your air guitar and sing that title! Classic.
I live in a college town that is currently experiencing what the billions of apartment complexes call “turn,” where they clean up after tenants moving out and fill them with new tenants. I like this term because I think there are several “turns” each year – semester endings, graduation, end of football season (SEC, SEC!), and even change of environment like church or small group or relationships.
Turns are everywhere. People are constantly leaving, and if I’m being honest, that is one of my biggest life struggles. As soon as I get close to a friend, they tend to move on to bigger and better. It happens!
And sometimes, people do not leave well. This is really important because you have the power to do some damage if you haven’t considered how your actions affect the people around you as you’re preparing to launch into a new season.
Here are five things I learned while watching people leave:
1. There is no nobility in choosing to go it alone.
Look, I’ll be the first to tell you that I’d rather do things alone rather than with a group of people. (If you know me, stop nodding!) But I also know that I am much more successful when I include people in my thought process.
When you’re planning to leave a place and you begin to isolate yourself, people notice. And if they say it feels like you’re shutting them out, it’s because you are. You are not a knight on a quest to save the damsel – you’re just moving cities for a new job or lifestyle. Please do not think that you’re “saving” those you leave behind by severing ties. You’re actually doing more damage – to us and to you.
2. Don’t leave “because of”; leave “in order to.”
Have you heard the phrase, “Don’t make a permanent decision based on a temporary problem?” Here’s where the rubber meets the road.
Leaving “because of” someone/something/emotions/rejection will not make it better. You’re still going to be just as upset because your emotions are going to go with you to whatever place you’re running to. (Of course, there are times where it’s okay to leave: escaping hurt and abuse or going into Witness Protection and becoming a super secret spy…….just saying.)
Leaving “in order to” succeed with purpose is always the better choice. If you know you’re not planning to stick around, have a plan. Where are you going to work? Have you interviewed? What about where you’ll live? Can you afford it based on the job you interviewed for? “In order to” gives you something to look forward to and is a much more successful path than showing up somewhere with a U-Haul and your yard flamingoes like you’re Cousin Eddie in National Lampoon’s.
3. Never squash your circle in pursuit of the next one.
Your circle is your friend group that you consider your go-to people for advice, hanging out, and just living life together. When you make the conscious decision to leave a place and you are not in a healthy mindset, you subconsciously begin to hurt your circle.
I have been on the receiving end of this plenty of times, and I can tell you that it’s not a fun place to be. Your friends are not a means to an end. They are not around for your enjoyment, and they don’t disappear into thin air when you’re not around. Choosing to leave is not the problem. If they’re really you’re friends, they’re going to support you and build you up, praying and celebrating your steps. The problem is that you should not be content in squashing the time and emotions of your current circle while you run to find a new one. That is a complete disservice to them, and may even force them to put walls up if they feel like they can’t be vulnerable with anyone because no one’s stuck around.
4. Healthy people are the trunk, not the leaves.
If nature has it’s own cycle of death and renewal, we know that humans have the same. And with the change of the seasons comes time to shed some leaves and regrow new ones. There is always a right time to leave a place, and God will begin to reveal discomfort around you when it’s time. I’ve always been told that how you leave a place will determine what the Lord gives you in the next one. Which I understand is like, “no pressure, dude!” but when you’re emotionally mature, you see how your actions affect people. You catch the facial expressions that are forcing happiness when you know they’re in pain. And when they say they’re “fine,” they’re NOT!
I’m still working on this, but all I can tell you is this: Don’t sacrifice this season in search of who God wants you to be in the next one. You shouldn’t have to be a completely new person in a new season. The “trunk” of who you are should be able to withstand the change of season, whereas your environmental elements may change like the leaves. Your interests, goals, and your circle will shift, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of the people in your life.
5. It’s always better to feel a goodbye instead of wishing you got one.
Like a bad breakup, truth stings. But truth is necessary for improvement and progress – for moving forward. You need loving honesty and vulnerability when you leave your circle for a new adventure, too.
It’s absolutely okay to have those movie moments with the sad song and the longing glance out the window as you drive away. You can’t just blaze through a goodbye and repress your emotions into a little box inside – that’s SUPER unhealthy. Unpack those emotions and really feel your goodbye so that you appreciate what God did here, what God wanted you to learn with these people, and what God has waiting for you in the new season. You don’t want to leave your circle wishing that words were said and pain was voiced.
I can’t tell you if you should stay or if you should go because if you stay there may be trouble, and if you go there may be double… okay, I’m done, I’m done!
But look at the people around you as you begin to pack up your life. Your stuff may belong in boxes, but people never do.