We as humans are no strangers to moving away -- in fact, we move often. Whether this be to a new school, job, or country across the world, moving comes with the inevitable fact that we will be constantly in the process of making, maintaining, and letting go of relationships, platonic and romantic. However, many stay where they are, in the same small town, out of fear or guilt created by the people who are meant to be their biggest supporters. Love shouldn’t feel like a weight holding you down, but instead should motivate you to be your best self. Not only is the process of moving away bittersweet, but saying goodbye to everything you know so well even further deepens the wound; particularly, for me, as leaving all my friends behind and not knowing when I’d see them next was hard. Similarly, there is the realisation you learn once you have moved: you really didn’t know as much as you once believed you did. Not only about yourself but the people you used to surround yourself with. Once I had spent time away from the people I perceived to be my friends I realised that they never really supported me; in reality we spent time together out of convenience. Not only was this their own fault but the environment which we all grew up in -- no one ever aspired to be anything great and the lack of limitless aspirations made everyone feel incapable of even the simplest of tasks; this isn’t an extraordinary revelation but an atmosphere most small towns behold.
Firstly, so many people feel stuck in a place they feel that they don’t belong, due to fears that have been forced and deflected onto them. This is confusing because everyone has their own emotions about moving away that they want and need to work through -- I know I did. As you explore this new place, you ask yourself, “Surely, the people who love me the most would never want me to feel this way?” Everyone has experienced that bittersweet whirlwind of butterflies in your stomach from the elation of having a different lifestyle with the dread of meeting new people and going to a new school, all mixed together becoming a tangled mess of feelings.
For such a long time after moving away from all my friends, I genuinely believed being the one desperate to leave meant that I was the one doing all the hurting. In hindsight, I was the one left feeling most hurt. It took making new friends who genuinely cared about my ideas and me as a person to realise this. I now know that I’m not in the wrong for feeling the way I feel either. Everyone’s feelings are valid regardless of perspective. By moving away not only was my lifestyle changing but theirs, it was different for all of us once I was gone and I’m sure it comes as no surprise but… most don’t like different -- which is also why I believe everyone should move away or at least do something out of their own ordinary. Then ,more people might have the same epiphany as I: different can be good; it can even be what’s best. Whilst everyone’s situations are individual, not only are you not selfish for moving away but it is selfish of the people you consider friends to prevent you from flourishing as a person. Moving to a new place allows you to flourish as a person because it gives you the chance to try something new, away from the people you know and the fear of judgement from people who are important to you.
Yet, the people who are important to you are undoubtedly exactly that for a reason. Change for them is going to be hard, you were also a key person in their lives not just the other way round. Letting you go is going to result in them coming to their own realisations about who they are on their own. What do they love to do other than go swimming in the river with you? It’s not only you in a new place experiencing new things but there are new experiences where you are right now too. Everyone has to learn to live in the moment whether you’re doing so with others or alone or in America or elsewhere.
I strongly believe that your friends trying to persuade you to stay out of fear of change in their own lives is not taking your best interests or wants to heart. You don’t carry fears to that degree of severity out of love for a peer. Rather, this is out of love for their own personal comfort. Losing them or losing your close relationship with them will hurt and that’s so irrevocably terrifying. Love is being willing to sacrifice that comfort because you know that person will become better for it. Overall, loving someone to their fullest is letting them go, and that is a bittersweet concept everyone will have to decipher at some stage and is often an uncomfortable process which must be done alone. This realisation forces us to appreciate the people who support us despite their own emotions or worries.
If you are able to have open conversations with your friends and family before moving away, it makes for an easier experience throughout. Having different views can also lead to amazing opportunities to really connect and develop your understanding of those you love around you - while you may choose a different path, you can still appreciate why they have chosen theirs. Moving away or starting something new isn’t for everyone. You don’t have to be the same to love someone. Overall, I’m glad I moved and I’m a big advocate for change being good, but there is always going to be the inevitable voice saying: “what if you’d stayed?” It’s hard not to think about, but I have to trust that everything truly does happen for a reason. We’ll all experience these bittersweet feelings which accompany change and they aren’t wrong nor right, they’re just there to help us become a better human.
martha hammond, 15, has always loved reading and writing, especially about topics such as history, politics, and film. she also enjoys spending time with her dog and horses as well as going out with friends. she is an op-ed writer on love letters magazine.