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Saying Goodbye: What It Means, How I Do It and Why It’s Totally Worth It

In ways big and small, through shouts and whispers and noisy nights that turn to quiet mornings beaming light through my window, the world continues to show me that it is a place built for love. It’s easy to get lost in the fear and violence that seem so prevalent today, but it’s crucial to find something to remind us of the simplicity of the world. For me, traveling (both solo and with others) has been a constant reminder that the world is safer, smaller and much funnier than it seems. Join me as I share memories and moments from my time traveling abroad, nationally and locally, equipping you all with travel tips, do’s and don’ts, and lessons learned from getting to know some of the world’s most beautiful places and people, and keeping journals, photographs and faith in myself through it all.

I remember my first time on an airplane: I sat in the front row window seat of the coach class section of a Spirit aircraft as a bright-eyed unaccompanied minor, watching the animated map tracking our route from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida to Cancun, Mexico on the small T.V. before me in anticipation. Everything before and after that scene blurs in my memory, including the goodbyes I exchanged with my mom and dad, which I’m assuming can be best described as nothing less than a string of theatrics. Both my parents both left their respective countries and families in Colombia and Mexico during the 90s to create a brighter future for the baby girl they were expecting, so understandably they’re protective, anxious, and very experienced with saying goodbye, though that never makes doing so any easier on them.

Although I don’t remember, I guess my first time on a plane was actually during this very turbulent time, growing in my mom’s belly, shortly after my parents left everything familiar behind, put their faith in each other and said goodbye. Their goodbye ultimately meant more to me than it did to them; something I’ve only been able to realize through my own teary-eyed departures, solo travels and lonely hours spent nestled in a hand-me-down blanket, forehead pressed hard against a Plexiglass window. Their goodbye taught me, even before I knew it, that there is power in leaving, strength in faith and a damn good reason for wanting to seek out all the world has to offer.

So when people ask me why I travel so often, why I’m always planning trips, why I don’t mind missing birthdays and why I’m never home for mine, I think about my parents’ brave goodbye and all the ones that followed. I think about how every single one of them has been completely worth it.

Courtesy: Sara Gomez

But saying goodbye is never easy.

Childhood teaches us to associate goodbyes with tears. We learn that when we leave some thing, place or person we love behind, the foreseeable future will be less enjoyable. As kindergarteners with pink scrunchies in our hair, we kicked and screamed when getting dropped off at the carpool loop, yelling, “But mom, I don’t wanna go to school!” 

Even now as college students at Florida State University, primarily those whose family resides somewhere other than Tallahassee, we still tear up driving away from our loved ones at the start of each semester. No matter how many times we’ve done it, peeling ourselves from our moms (and her home-cooked meals… and our childhood bed… and our dogs) never feels good. Yet we choose to leave because we realize that life is full of sacrifices that will (hopefully) pay off in the long run. As students, we all agree that these sacrifices are worth making because they enable us to obtain an education, have fun, discover and pursue our passions, make lifelong friends and simply experience something different and bigger than ourselves if only for a few years.

So why do so many of us limit the act of leaving for bigger and better things, such as traveling, to a few months out of the year or even just 4 years of our lifetime? Why don’t we make the choice to say goodbye, pack our bags and go more often, if it’s completely worth it?

Maybe it’s fear, lack of preparation, financial restraints or simply settling for what you already have that’s holding you back, (or maybe you just really hate planes—I feel you, never enough leg room for this 5’9” girl) but I hope the stories I share during the upcoming weeks—written from my time spent in Western and Southern Europe, Northern Africa, Southern and Central America, the United States and even locally in Tallahassee—inspire you to explore, learn from, connect with, question and love the world you exist in, as I know I’ve done since I learned to cherish goodbye and the inevitable hello that always follows.



Hi! I 'm Sara. You can find me roaming the streets of Tallahassee, Florida, in hopes of finding some cool people, places, and things to write about. Originally from Coral Springs, Florida, I've ventured 8 hours away from home to study Public Relations and Creative Writing at Florida State University. I like creativity, dance parties, writing, traveling, reading, and having a good time, all the time. 
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