Goodbyes are weird. In particular, work goodbyes deserve their own category.
The weirdest part of this specific goodbye is that it feels like a graduation. We’re all leaving on the exact same terms. No one was “fired,” or wanted to leave before this went down. (Well…except me, maybe? I’d planned to send out resumes again but thought my old job would be there until I was ready.) When the news first broke that our boss was closing the company, we experienced our varying stages of grief – denial, anger, it was all there. Now we’re all on that ‘acceptance’ level together. Along with the acceptance exists an underlying sadness. Most have our next steps in place, but we’re still upset that this phase of our lives is over.
Tomorrow is the last day for many of us, myself included. I don’t like goodbyes because they’re awkward. Sad, yes, but to me they can also be insincere. The majority of coworkers are people you only see at work. No matter how close you get, how much you feel like a family, you see each other on a daily basis because you earn a paycheck together. That is another reason it reminds me of graduation. You’re bound to be closer to some people than others, and those you aren’t close to will become a memory unless you happen to run into them again. It’s not done maliciously. Life happens. You’ll think of them in passing, when that one thing reminds you of something they said or did, but you probably won’t keep in touch aside from a random Facebook conversation.
So doesn’t that make your goodbye with them disingenuous? Hugging them, exclaiming “I’ll miss you so much!” when neither of you really mean it?
On the other hand, there are the coworkers who have become friends. These are the people you text outside of work, meet up with on weekends, wonder about when they use a personal day. You will miss seeing these people on a daily basis. However, you’ll also see them again. You’ll text updates and plan dinners.
So then why does it require an emotional goodbye? Why bother when they will still be there?
In these situations, I don’t believe the goodbye is about the individual person. We’re saying goodbye to a shared chapter of our lives. We are mourning “the end of an era” together, consoling each other, assuring each other that our future is brighter than the now. That’s hard for us to believe because the “now” is so comforting. It’s where we went through changes in our lives and survived them together. We like ourselves here, and don’t know how we’ll be when our lives settle back down. Goodbyes on the last day provide closure. We can turn this now into the past and start to define the next one.
So maybe I shouldn’t consider goodbyes individual entities, and instead, embrace the bigger picture. We will all miss our “now.”