The Conundrum of Letting Go: How to say goodbye to your old self

Yesterday’s blog was about self-discovery. Really, about ones relationship to oneself. After pondering how to say “so long” to an identity which not only no longer serves a purpose, but is detrimental in the embracing of a new one, I came to this realization: relationships are relationships, regardless of whether there are with others or with myself. And so, I treated my academic self the same way I would a significant other. I wrote it a goodbye letter. I talked about our 17+ years together, our happy times, sadnesses, how hurt I was at the departure. All the things I would say to another person. I wrote. I cried. I ate chocolate. Once finished, I considered typing up the hand-written copy, then burning the original, but I had to ask myself: “If I wouldn’t keep a copy of a farewell letter to a lover, then why would I keep a copy of this one?” And really, there is no reason to–the relationship is over.

I do realize that even if I will never pursue a Ph.D. and an academic career, I haven’t lost the love of literature, research, writing, and teaching. I still get excited when I see someone post a poem by Amy Powell. I still have a tendency to reference John Donne, amongst many other writers. I still look up anything and everything out of sheer curiosity and the desire to learn. And I still find ways to teach. Lately, it’s been holding gnocchi making workshops and giving friends writing prompts. All of this will stay with me and will change form as I embrace my new self.

Perhaps the conundrum of letting go is the misunderstanding that all is lost. It’s the the dysfunctional, destructive aspects that we really want to leave behind. The love we feel from past relationships stays with us. The lessons we learn help us grow. Releasing what no longer serves creates room to not only embrace the new, but also what is good within the old.

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