By Andrea Joshua Asnicar - Film Director & WeLife Editor at large
All The Love... We Leave Behind
I feel like there is something we have to talk about, the elephant in the room. Not all of you will have this problem, but I guess that a big part of you actually will.
Of the whole leaving home situation, some of us might leave behind an essential part of our lives: our partner. The boyfriend or girlfriend that has been on our side for years.
I was a jerk. I failed on how I handled the girlfriend situation. When the idea of leaving started to take shape in my mind, I made another mistake: I paired up with a couple of friends. These two friends were heading to Australia, so we felt like we had a bigger purpose in common. We shared the secrets. Like me, they were reluctant to go around saying they wanted to leave, aside from their parents. One of them also had a girlfriend, but he told her straight up from the start. The reason why is because he was planning to stay away just ten months, no more. He was adamant about that; he just wanted the experience of Australia and being away from home. His girlfriend, being older, accepted without breaking a sweat, and they're still together at this time. And me? "Did you tell her?" was the question they asked every time we met to talk about the Australian adventure. No, I haven't because I want to ensure everything is set before doing it. I need to be sure. I need to find the right time. Soon I'll tell her.
Excuses, excuses, excuses. I was doing what I always do: postponing a decision or an action until the inevitable deadline comes, ending up in a catastrophic and messy situation that hurts everyone involved.
Me and Noelle, my girlfriend, were working together in my parents' hotel. I was sweeping the floor, and she was fixing the cutlery on the tables. I told her previously. I had to talk to her about something important. I knew she would not take it well inside me, probably because I handled the whole situation wrong. In my ego trip of "being 100% sure I leave before, I tell anybody", I set up my entire future without thinking of her being part of it. There was no room for our relationship in it. I remember that I was consciously avoiding asking the right question to myself. Sometimes is so challenging to face your truth, the one you hold close, the one that scares you because you know going to hurt you and others. So you avoid it. You drown it deep, down yourself. You are not answering yes or no. You stop asking the question altogether, and you start to make up excuses to obliterate it. For example, I was still fooling myself, thinking that I would be away from home for only 9 months, a maximum of a year.
Noelle was distressed. I felt it. She kept asking when were we supposed to talk. I finally sat her down and said it. I was like dropping an atomic bomb on her. She got hurt immediately. We start fighting soon after that. She stormed out, and from there, it became a mess. We didn't talk to each other for three weeks, she moved back to her home. It was an emotional disaster, and I tried to ease her pain by letting my parents talk to her, my best friends and other people instead of me. When I took the matter into my own hand and talked, we decided to try and stay together. I knew we wouldn't, and still, I decided to keep going because I didn't want to hurt her more than what I already did. She was happy. She truly was. I still remember her smile and our hug. I still remember how terribly sad it felt like I lied to someone about having cancer. I failed her to every possible degree.
Why would I fail, at that level, the person I was in love with? Maybe because I wasn't in love that much anymore. Perhaps I was more in love with myself, and I wasn't man enough to take responsibility for my decisions. Either way, I hurt her. I hurt her bad. Was it my intention? Of course not. It doesn't really matter what I meant or what I wanted to do. The truth is that I did it, and I'm responsible for it.
You have to understand that everything you do affects the people you love. You must make decisions that change your life, but bear in mind that every time you take one of those decisions, it will impact the people really close to you. I have developed a rule for every time I hurt someone: before I leave, I always look at them in the eyes for quite some time. I think it is true that the eyes mirror the soul. Emotions flow like a river from the eyes of humans. You can understand them quite profoundly. All the pain you cause to someone has to stay with you forever. You are allowed to mess up and make bad decisions, but you need to understand their consequences on the people around you. That's why I carry those people's eyes with me. They are a reminder of the pain I'm able to inflict on the women and men I love.
Right now, I can hear you thinking, "Well, you know, man, I don't wanna break it to you, but I can leave with my partner. They take couples on planes" Yes, I'm well aware of that. You can leave home and depart for a new adventure together, taking that massive step with the love of your life, cruising into the unknown with your loved one at your side. But you shouldn't. Actually, just don't do it, especially if you're in your early-mid twenties. I know that probably many of you disagree with this idea of leaving our Romeo or Juliet behind. The truth is that no, it is not. It's unacceptable.
The reason is one and one only: if you leave home with your partner or friends, you're bringing home with you. Leaving alone is a fundamental part of growing. When you leave, you must go because you want to change. Bringing the old with you won't help you to accept the new. If you leave by yourself, you will be forced to face who you really are. There are no backups, no shoulders to cry on, no comfort zones to go back to, no safe islands. You will be face down in the dirt, and it will help you realise that you are the only one able to pull yourself back up.
Don't think I'm having a go on lovers. The same sits true for friends. Don't leave with your buddies. They won't help you grow. Most of us are so reluctant to the unknown that they will find every excuse possible to bring the known with them. Stop it. Give up. Leave alone. You cannot escape yourself. Sooner or later, you will have to face who you are. Just do it, learn to grow from it and move on to more growth.
I know that seems scary but remember that the people that genuinely love you will always be there for you. I remembered the time I went back home after two years of Australia. I resurfaced in my hometown and met with my best friend, the one that planted the Land Down Under in my head. I made my cousin call Broca to stop by at our place. I surprised him. It was all hugs and "I missed you" for the first five minutes. Same talks, same jokes, same way of laughing. Then we jumped in the car, and everything was like I had never left.
Your friends are going to be the same despite you all playing grown-ups. Your family as well, maybe even more same old.
Family sometimes can be perceived differently: the idea that your family will always be there for you helps make it easier to leave. It might seem like it's no big deal at the start, but you will realise the importance of it as you go along with your journey. I think you will be more concerned about leaving your friends and partners than leaving your family.
It was easy to leave my family because I knew where they stood and supported my choice. However, I could see that my parents were sad. Your mum will always cry. If not in front of you, she will when you're gone. Leaving people behind can be hard sometimes, but remember that seeing people leave is also challenging. Especially your kid. Be respectful of that. Some of us are born with extreme privilege, and we have the awful tendency to take family love for granted. I can assure you that you will grasp the worth of family love the more you will feel its absence.
There is a lot of love surrounding you, love that maybe you are unaware of or haven't paid enough attention to. Be fair to yourself, understand that all the love you leave behind is painful and might take time to accept. Ultimately it will lead you to grow. Be fair to other people, understand that you might hurt someone by leaving. The realisation that your actions can cause pain is a fundamental part of becoming more mature.
Nonetheless, leave. Doesn't matter if you hurt someone; pain will help them grow. Doesn't matter if you get hurt; pain will help you grow.
Be honest, though. Have some self-love and self-respect, leave because you want to, because you feel it is right, but don't be a jerk on the people you're leaving and who loved you. They will understand, and if they don't, I can assure you, they will in the future.
After you talk to the people in your life about your decision is the moment of planning your new life.