The Art of Letting Go
Letting go doesn't necessarily have to deal mainly with romantic relationships. It can mean letting go of toxic family/friendships, grief for a loved one, or events in your past. The art of letting go is versatile and very helpful.
Life is a train station. And the life of a person works like a train. People get on and off at different times every day, every week, every month, and every year. People will walk in and out of your life in the same way they will board and exit a train. However, people differ in the way they will change your life by coming in and out; you’ll never leave the station in the same condition you came in. As a train, you’re expected to power on, chug along, and live your life until you run out of steam.
But since we are humans and not trains, we don’t work like that. Sometimes, it’s hard to power on, to chug along. Sometimes, we have to stop and cool our engines a bit before we can keep going. Because when someone who meant a lot to you leaves, it hurts. It hurts and you can try to ignore it, but ignoring the pain only prolongs it. To confront it might cause you more pain than you’ve ever felt in your life. But, would it be worth it to experience this if you could eventually find solace in the end?
I have had to let go of a lot of people throughout my life. Mainly friends that I had grown close to who eventually left for various reasons. Up until college, most of the losses I experienced were more two dimensional. I found myself trying to make friends repeatedly. And it seemed like every time I got close to someone, they left. There was never a big argument or a disagreement that drove them away. It was either they moved away, they transferred schools without bothering to tell me, or we just grew apart, talking less and less.
These losses made me feel alone, like there was something wrong with me, making me undeserving of friendship. I always made it my goal to be the best person I could be, so I always wondered what if maybe I was too good. Maybe people wanted more of a jerk to be friends with because jerks were controversial and engaging and I just… wasn’t. This made me feel like I wasn’t good enough.
Since starting college, I have been in and out of various relationships of different kinds, and these have changed who I am as a person immensely. They have shaped my beliefs and values as well as my view of myself and what I believe I deserve out of others. I’m not going to lie, these relationships were not the best. But this is something that can sometimes only be realized in hind sight once you are removed from the situation, which is why I am writing about them now.
The first person who changed me significantly was Jason*, who I talked to for about a year. He was probably one of the first people I would consider “toxic”. I don’t like to use the word toxic, but Jason, I think, would be the closest I would consider to being toxic. He was selfish, illogical, and honestly just a horrible person. No matter what I said, he would disagree with me just because he could. And he would never admit when he was wrong, even if it made him look bad. He would ask for favors that would only benefit himself and would even make me go out of my way to do them, even though I would never receive the same kind of favor in return.
But the reason I kept trying to talk to him was because he was the first person to show interest in getting to know me deeper. He was like a best friend that I had never experienced. We would have great conversations and he would be there for me when I was falling apart. My freshman year of college was the first time I had to confront the possibility that I had depression. Having him around felt great because it felt like I had someone to help me up when I was down. It felt like someone wanted me even though I felt broken beyond repair. I was so caught up in that feeling that I almost wasn’t able to see just how horrible he really was. When I did, it crushed me to the point I had to distance myself.
He was the first person I opened myself up to. I thought he was the only one who would understand because he didn’t run away when I tried to talk to him. I thought I wouldn’t be able to find another person like him to talk to because it had taken me so long to find him. And I thought that there was something wrong with me again that made this friendship go sour and that it was all my fault.
I also thought that by letting him go, I would be letting a piece of myself go with him. And in a way, that was true. He knew a lot about me at the time. But now, I understand that letting people go is something that does need to happen sometimes. And it will hurt, but not as much as it would if you continued to associate with that person. And sometimes, it can’t be helped. It’s not always your fault, it’s just something that didn’t work out.
Jason is just one example of the people I’ve had to let go, most being close friends and one a romantic partner. There is one thing I have learned, though. If they are compromising who you are as a person, then you are better off without them. If they make you feel guilty for being yourself, disagreeing with their opinions that they take for fact, or for telling them how you feel, then they don’t deserve to be in your life. People will come and go. In my case, it has been a lot of people going out of your life. But that just means that none of them were the right ones in the first place. In the long run, it will be better to distance yourself from these people instead of sticking around and allowing them to hurt you.
I hope that this article will make it easier for others to let go of those they were once close to. Whether they be family, friends, significant others, or anyone of meaning, really. I also say these things in order to maybe help someone realize that it may not be them, it might just be other people around you. You don’t deserve to be treated as anything less by someone else. You deserve the best. And sometimes, that best is only achieved by cutting someone out of your life. And the thing that isn’t always realized is: that’s okay.
Edited by Viveca Shearin