You are done with your exams, yeah, can breathe again and now it’s packing up your room at Stanstead College. There are never enough boxes, packing always takes longer than you think, and your room simply looks horribly empty once all is done. Then, there is this pit in your stomach, now you need to say good-bye to… (I leave the list to you as it depends on if you are returning in September or not, but I know it is a long one.)
Proper and good goodbyes are important for a healthy transition into your next chapter. You want to confront your losses while looking positively into the future. Not easy, I know. (I have been doing this for over 25 years and I still find it very hard.) A good way to do this according to David Pollok, the author of the internationally renowned book Third Culture Kids, is building a RAFT. Here is how it works:
This means forgive and also be forgiven. Repair any broken relationships before you leave, don’t go away with this icky feeling. This might mean walking up to the person you had a fight with and talking to them. (Maybe go with a friend if you don’t want to do this alone.) You could say, “I’m sorry we didn’t talk much after [blank], but I wish you a good summer!” The outcome, of course, depends on the response of the other person. But whatever the outcome, you can say, “Well, I tried!” which makes you feel great and closes this chapter! You want to leave in peace and get your relationships straightened beforehand. This way, you can avoid bad memories and extra baggage that you might otherwise carry on with you for years.
You build and maintain friendships and relationships through positive affirmation. In this case, it might be writing your favourite teacher a farewell note, giving your roommate a special photo of the two of you or gifingt your friend your yellow T-shirt that she liked so much. A friendly word and hugs work as well! With this, you are showing them (friends, teachers, cleaning staff, etc.) your appreciation, what you have learned from them and what they meant to you.
Schedule time to say good-bye to your favourite: friends, people (a teacher’s baby!), places (maybe the river), animals (a teacher’s dog!) and possessions (the painting you are not taking with you). Ah, and your room! These are all like little ceremonies and will take more time than you think. Hug, cry and hug some more (if you are allowed – with your mask on!).
Even while you are still using up the tissues with a heavy heart, you need to think realistically about your destination. Where are you going? Your parents’ house, your home country, a new country? Have you packed all? Do you need to prepare anything for the flight, drive or walk before you leave for the summer? “Think destination” also means planning some activities you are going to do during the summer: a trip, a summer course, movies you plan to watch, people you want to see. Looking ahead is important!
Great, you have just built your first “raft.” I am not saying this is easy. There might be confusion, chaos and strange feelings. I think it might be easier to hide and then just head off to the airport, but this will catch up with you later. “Closure” is the word we are trying to achieve here. Closing the chapter of Stanstead College 2020-21!
At the end of your summer, you can also use this technique to say goodbyes when you leave your home country before coming back to Stanstead, heading off to college and every time you move to a new place or country in the future.
I am wishing you all a great summer 2021!
Andrea Schmitt is a life coach specializing in teenage girls and a former Stanstead parent (Jessica Lozano Schmitt 2018). Find out more about her services at https://www.globalgirlcoach.com/ or email firstname.lastname@example.org.