Fear of Moving On

Saying goodbye is never easy, but it’s always inevitable.

You graduate from high school and the majority of the people sitting around you will never speak to you again as you pursue the next step in accomplishing your dreams. You spend four years (or more) at college building relationships quickly only to see many of them move on once you’re handed a diploma. The ones you hang onto are the ones you consistently make a conscious effort to keep up with, otherwise friends just seem to fade away as the years go on. Then you start connecting with a new group of people: those entering the working world for the first time and beginning their careers—the young professionals. You start building friendships based on common experiences, similarities of lifestyles, and dreams of the future. But this stage also sees people moving on from it albeit at different points in time. People move across time or the country for new job opportunities, end up going back to school, or get married. And, before you know it, you’re looking starting the process again. It seems like a cycle that just keeps repeating itself over and over again throughout any stage of life—having babies, parenting children, getting promotions, raising grandchildren, reaching retirement, etc.

Make the investment. Enjoy the time you have. Move on.

Make the investment. Enjoy the time you have. Move on.

For someone who is introverted yet highly relational, this is an exhausting process for me. This is one reason I believe making new friends is such a difficult task for me. I have a hard time letting go of people because I’ve given so much of my time, my energy, and myself to the people I care about that it makes it difficult to move on. Although I don’t always show it well, I care deeply about the friendships I’ve made and the relationships I’ve built. Letting them go means letting part of myself go too.

You might have read that I’ve had a lot of really close friends get married recently, and I think this is where most of this “fear of moving on” is started. These guys I’ve been friends with anywhere from 3-15 years are walking into a season of life that I can no longer be part of because life changes when you’re a newlywed. You focus more time on growing your marriage and crafting a life the two of you will live together—and rightly so! Gone are the bachelor days where you can go to dinner spontaneously after work, make plans for weekend get aways just for the guys, or commiserate and console each other about the latest relationship problems. Who wants to spend time with a bunch of single people who are dealing with different issues and hurdles than a young married couple? I’m not saying it can’t be done, but when you move onto a different season of life it’s hard to stay connected to those who aren’t there yet.

So when someone moves on to a new season of life there are a mix of joy and pain. I’m ecstatic for the new adventures that lay ahead but I’m sad to see what we had change. I know change is the only thing you can bet on in life, but that doesn’t make it any easier. I think there’s something in all of us that wants things to stay the same and never change, and I think there is a fear attached to moving on that wants us to stay there. We don’t want to lose what we had because it’s familiar. We don’t want to lose the way things were because we were comfortable. We don’t want to lose the people because we shared memories.

We’re afraid of the future because we’re afraid it will change the past. We’re afraid of letting people go because we’re afraid they won’t come back around. We’re afraid of moving because we’re afraid it will diminish what we experienced. I don’t know about you, but that’s what goes through my mind.

Maybe I’m just afraid that I won’t find what they’ve found.

Maybe I’m just afraid that I can’t follow where they’re going right now.

Maybe I’m just afraid of being left behind.

Maybe I’m just afraid of moving on without them.

Or maybe it’s just all of that wrapped up together into one complex emotional knot in my stomach that I just have to learn to deal with in my own way. Because the reality is change isn’t going to stop. We all have to learn how to deal with it in our own way because, whether we like it or not, the cycle will continue to repeat over and over again.

That doesn’t mean I’m throwing all my relationships to the wind because everyone is bound to move on. I’m just hoping the next time the cycle begins I’ll be more prepared and willing to accept the moving on.


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