Let’s just admit it. Sometimes goodbyes can be awkward.
I see them most in the leaving of an emotionally charged event, like graduations, moving away to college, the end of camp, finishing a semester abroad, etc. Before I make myself sound completely heartless, I’d like to point out that I have been on both sides of the awkwardness. As a highly complex and emotional female, I never really know what part I will end up playing during the “goodbye session.”
There are several types of awkward situations while saying goodbye, and here are a few of them:
1. No Tears
A friend comes over to get some closure with a hug, and just like that, her tear ducts overflow. Sometimes this is someone you want to cry with. He or she has been instrumental in your life the last few months/weeks/years, and it’s only fair to cry back. But what if your tears don’t come on command? Suddenly you look like the black heart of the bunch. Do you try to excuse yourself with a line like, “Oh, I just process things later..” Do you go to the bathroom and start pinching yourself so tears will come? Do you get someone to hit you square in the nose so eye-watering is guaranteed?
2. Too Many Tears
At events like this, inevitably you have not become best friends with every single person. Unfortunately, not everyone will get that memo. What do you do when a guy at high school graduation that you haven’t talked to since 4th grade comes up sobbing and tells you how much he will miss you? Smile and nod? This is probably also the guy who comes in for the full frontal hug, when you were only barely going to be able to handle the side hug. Yikes.
Do you make up something generic like “I’m so glad we were in school together. It’s been great getting to know you.” Or, you could feel guilty about lying and try to pull from something true, and end up with, “You should know that your show and tell of your guinea pig in 2nd grade had a profound impact on my life. I got my first pet after that presentation.” Sure, the pet was a goldfish, and you got tired of it after a week, but he doesn’t need to know that. Either way, he’s still crying, and you’re still stuck.
3. The Interrupter
One of your very best friends from the past event is pouring out her soul to you, and you know you’re standing in a room packed with people, but this is the last opportunity for an in-person heart to heart, so you’re completely into this conversation. You’re about to send her off with some words of wisdom, both of you are tearing up appropriately, and then bam. Suddenly someone comes up and engulfs you in a hug, and tries to pass it off with, “So sorry to interrupt, but I just had to give you a hug before I”m off! You’re the best!” In these moments, I always wonder, did she see the tears? Is she really sorry to interrupt? I think not.
4. The Double Goodbye
Then there are the times you get your goodbye in with someone, it actually went well, you walk away, start one with someone else, and then- oh no- you realize you are walking in the same direction as the former. What then? Do you pretend like you don’t see him? Do you start your farewell speech again? Do you smile and say, “Hey, how’s it going?” But I mean, that ends up totally weird. Because you’re supposed to be saying these epic, final farewells to everyone. Now is not the time to start up some small talk about the rainy weather or the current fashion trends.
5. The Realist
We sure do love to be optimists when it comes to goodbyes. The thing is, the very reason people are taking such time with these farewells is due to the exact fact that things are massively changing, and these might be final. Still, during every single goodbye, we reach for the next reunion. “Well, I mean, I’ll see you at that get together we have coming up. I know I live 5 states away, and I have a jam-packed busy life, but obviously this is just see you later!”
Occasionally during the “you’ve been the best” monologue, Mr. Realist will be on the other end and respond with, “Yeah, you’re right. This summer has been awesome. Well, see ya in heaven!”
I mean, how do you respond to that? Sure, you know he’s probably right, but isn’t that beside the point? Saying bye is already tough enough, now he added in the very fact you have been denying the whole time? You’ll never see each other again this side of heaven?
Farewell parties are just always humorous. I typically hate them, mostly because I hate change so much, and get really attached to people. I just choose to follow the words of the great Andy Davis, and laugh so I don’t cry.
PS- to the guys out there, when a girl wants to take a picture with just you, feel free to read into that. I know I probably just broke some sort of “girl code” with that comment, but it’s probably better out there in the open.