The Relationship Cost
Since I was 16, I have lived abroad and always for a pre-determined period of time: two years in Hong Kong, two months in Stanford, two years in Cambridge, one year in Regensburg and now I have another year in Cambridge ahead of me. I worked and continue to work hard to be able to live exactly that way - I am financing my studies through scholarships and those do not come from nothing.
When thinking of the emotional cost of living this way, most people probably think of homesickness, missing friends’ and family events. But there is another cost, which might be a bit harder to see on the surface: Constantly living in places for a pre-determined period of time keeps you from putting down roots in that place. You make new friends, but you know that you will have to say goodbye eventually. And sure, FaceTime and WhatsApp exist, but anyone who tells you that those things can fully replace seeing the person, is lying.
I have lived with this knowledge regarding all the friendships I have made in the past few years. And while I am grateful for all the experiences I have had abroad, I know that I have also paid a big emotional price for it. Over the years, I have learned to build pre-emptive walls around my heart to keep it from breaking when I have to leave again - I know that may sound cheesy to some, but that is how it is. I have gotten to meet people from all over the world, but throughout it all, I have also been more lonely than I was at home, because I was always already planning my goodbyes.
Knowing that I will always have to leave again has also made me stay away from romantic relationships - I feel like it would not be fair towards a partner to enter a relationship when you already know that you will leave anyway. And I do not think that I would want that. I know that far-distance relationships work for some people, but again, it is not something I would want.
In all honesty, I have never reflected much on this until someone asked me whether I have ever been in a relationship on TikTok. The more I have been thinking about it, the more I realised how I subconsciously adjusted my behaviour to keep myself from the heartbreaks that are part of all heartfelt goodbyes. I love all the experiences I get to have, but I would be lying if I told you that I am not looking forward to the day when my life will become a bit more boring in the sense of me settling down in a place without already planning my move before I have even moved in.
Lots of Love,
P.S.: The title picture of this post was taken by H. Handtrack.