The past two weeks have been full of endings. I said goodbye to several beloved coaching clients with whom I’ve journeyed over the past few months. Some of them I’ve even worked with for almost a year. I’ve spent time tying loose ends everywhere as I prepared for my holidays back home in Greece. I’ve sat with options of letting classes go and contemplated leaving studios I’ve been with since the beginning.
This time of year always represents a sort of ending for me. Ever since school time, summer has been the time of fun and relaxation before the beginning of a new school year in September. Now, 15 years later, I still get the back-to-school feeling and the desire to sort my life out so that I start fresh again. I relish this second chance at starting over; New Year is definitely a time to review where you’re at and to set new intentions, yet it comes with a lot of hype and can feel more pressurised. It’s a time of heightened emotions when a lot can be released, but it’s intense. There is a softer energy at this sweeter time, post summer holidays; you are rested (hopefully), the mind has had a chance to recover and your energy has been refuelled. It’s a chance to breathe again. If you find yourself stuck or lost mid-year, the summer offers a period to press the pause button, shed new light on where you’re going and what changes need to be made.
Before each new beginning comes a natural or sudden end. I have come to realise I don’t like endings and I tend to avoid them. I observed that for a long time I would find myself disengaging from things in my life that were close to ending; things like courses, or even relationships. I start off with all the excitement in the world, fully committed and present and then somewhere along the line, when the end is visible, I drift away. I may stop attending, I may be late, I may be distracted. I used to think it was because I lost interest and for a while I felt discouraged at how easily my commitment was gone. But I know now it’s because I did not want to commit to the end.
Endings bring loads of our emotional baggage up in the surface. When things come to an end, it feels permanent, finite, it reminds us of the limited time we all have in this life. When we’re faced with an ending it means that the unrealised possibilities will remain that – unrealised. Immaterialised. I am a dreamer. I spend so much time up in my head, in my dreamland of infinite potential. I create stories, a parallel universe where I dwell in for as long as possible before I reluctantly pull myself back into this world. Not because I don’t love my reality, but because I take comfort in exploring the alternatives.
When something ends, we experience a small death and no one will be surprised by the human urge to avoid death. I avoid endings because I like leaving the door open. “What if…” is my mind’s favourite game. I know that I’m more comfortable with the grey than the black and white. I rest in the spaces in between, not the extremes and I find it challenging to commit to a very strong point of view. An ending is similar to an absolute point of view – it’s definite, one-sided, hard to argue with. I favour endings that are softer, open-ended, negotiable. Maybe the door is slightly ajar, maybe the light is still on.
But there is another side to the coin. Always keeping the door open means you expose yourself to multiple options and possibilities, which may be confusing and disorientating. Having the door open means you may unintentionally invite guests you did not wish to have. It means you also never cut the cords, leaving you vulnerable and exposed (not to mention some cords really need to be cut). Ending an ending is healthy. Committing to the end of a relationship, a job, a journey, a contract, enables your mind to process the experience as a completed task. It clears your mind’s hard drive to make space for the new. The truth is that although in theory having your options open gives the impression of space and freedom, it can very often do the exact opposite. Rather than offering freedom, unfinished business that’s not quite done is just clutter, if not toxic. It can cause you to never move forward because you have the fallacy that you’re still engaged. It can drain your energy and cause frustration as to what your true priorities are.
The reality is we need endings. We need to feel that we have closed certain doors in order to open new ones. We have to say goodbye, if not with words, with our hearts. There is a bitter-sweetness that accompanies the process of letting go; we don’t like it and it brings up a lot of fear because an ending is inherently also a beginning, and often an uncertain one. There is a real beauty in acknowledging the end of something; it’s a luxury we don’t get very often in life: knowing for sure when something is over. It’s a death and an opportunity for new life.
My commitment is to honour endings more. Feel them, acknowledge them. Complete them. I know I will always favour the open-ended options instinctively, but playing with completeness feels good. Clear. Spacious. Light.