Gracious Goodbyes

I don’t convince people to remain in my life. I don’t try to convince them to stay when they decide it’s time to walk away and I never turn leaving into a long drawn out emotional process. I simply accept that their season in my life is over and I let them leave. I know my position may sound cold and maybe even unrealistic, but my life experiences have brought me to this place and I’ve embraced it.

This wasn’t always my stance. Once upon a time I wanted people to like me, to genuinely like me and see me for the wonderful person, I think I am. So, I would work hard not to offend anyone and if someone pointed out a flaw in my character I immediately got to working on it so I’d be the type of person they could like. The problem with that though is how tedious it was. I could never catch a break because every time I “fixed” something or changed something, someone would point out something new that they didn’t like and I’d have to fix that too. God forbid somebody tried to leave me in the midst of “becoming a better person”, I would be devastated and depressed. That all changed a few years ago.

I had a friend that I loved dearly. She and I were friends for 17 years and we did everything together. I thought it was a perfect friendship; a space where I could be me and not worry about being judged or misinterpreted. I shared my joys, my sorrows, my shame, everything with this person. I let my guard down completely and I figured this would have been my best friend forever! Imagine my surprise and pain when one day I got an email from *Sandy highlighting everything she thought was wrong with me over the past 17 years and her analysis of how terrible a person she thought I was. I literally broke down. I was shattered and I believed every word she’d written because she was the person I thought knew me best. Words can’t explain the devastation and guilt I felt after reading that email. At that point, I decided it would be best if I let Sandy walk away because I was no good for her and she would be better off without such a terrible person in her life (me).

In devastation, I sprinted in God’s direction and I prayed, and prayed, and prayed to God for forgiveness for my wrong ways. I got up every morning and asked God to heal my friend’s heart before attending to mine because I genuinely believed I was wrong and that I’d been a terrible friend.  That continued for a while and it wasn’t until about 2 weeks later that God responded and showed me who HE thought I was. He reminded me of my growth and my heart for others and my intention behind my actions. It was only then that I realised that people will always have an opinion of me but that doesn’t mean they’re right. People will always want to leave for one reason or another but other people will come and life will go on.

That’s why I don’t fight to keep people around and I don’t force friendships or relationships to work. When the time is up I accept it, I embrace it and I allow life to continue harmoniously. Goodbyes are a necessary part of life and I embrace them. I allow them to happen and I respond graciously because I’ve accepted that some people are a part of my life for a season and when that season is over I can accept it and say a gracious goodbye or I could prolong it and risk the relationship turning into a toxic, bitter space riddled with resentment and regret. For me, I’ll always say a gracoious goodbye and leave room for the possibility of rekindling what we’ve let go of if we so choose later on in life.

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Stop Licking The Cup!!!

 

 

 

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Me at Gatwick Airport, London; awaiting my flight to Thailand (2014)

I’m an avid coffee drinker. Okay, that’s a lie, I used to be an avid coffee drinker but I’ve been drinking less coffee recently (it’s no longer the first beverage I have on a morning) but I still enjoy a good cup of coffee during the day. In the past I’d have a minimum of 5 cups of this luscious drink a day with 3 of them being before 10 am, but now I’m down to one or two cups on a bad day.

 

My love of coffee transcends into my love of coffee shops. I make a point to visit cafés and coffee shops whenever I travel, much like persons who collect t-shirts or shot glasses on their adventures. For my trip to be considered successful and to say that I’ve had coffee in a particular country there is one criteria which must be met: I must have sat down and drank the coffee in the place where it was bought. Of course sitting down to coffee usually means it’s served in a beautiful ceramic cup, served by (hopefully) a perky but not too chatty person and ideally I’d get to sit close to a window where I can people-watch and savor the flavor of the hot liquid running down my chest.

Today, unfortunately, this desire has been challenged.

I visited Café Blue – a coffee shop chain in Jamaica – and I sat sipping a latte and studying for my final exam next week. Luckily I got a seat near the window on a high chair and there weren’t too many people at the shop to distract me. As I sipped my latte and tried to make sense of the information I was consuming I looked up and to horror I watched a lady lick the outside of her cup each time she took a sip! What the hell? Why would she do that? Why did I have to see?

Coffee

Wandered into a coffee shop in Frankfurt Germany for my birthday (2016)

I immediately started side-eyeing my own coffee cup wondering how many persons licked it before it got to me.

I know you’re probably scolding me inwardly for behaving like a germaphobe and some of you are pointing out the obvious – they wash the cups before serving other guests in them – but I couldn’t help it.

The thought of drinking from a cup that’s been licked by a stranger disturbs me. I honestly wish I never saw it because now I’ll probably only be comfortable drinking from “to-go” cups or I’ll become the weird lady at coffee shops who sanitizes the exterior of her coffee cup before consuming her begerage. This strange woman has caused me to revaluate what was a perfect relationship between me, coffee and coffee shops.

In trying to understand why someone would lick a cup in a public place I’ve concluded that maybe it’s as a result of force of habit or maybe she was so engrossed in her conversation with her companion that she did it absent-mindedly. All the same, I’d like to make a plea to public-cup-users every where; please, for the love of all things sacred, do not lick your cups!

Dutch Coffee

Coffee I had at a café in the Netherlands while working on position papers (2017)

Tap-Out Thoughts

I hate coming home. Not because home is terrible but because home is home and my heart is here and every time I sit in this airport waiting to board a flight back to Jamaica my heart breaks. Sometimes I simply want to stop – come home, write an email to my lecturers and tell them that I’ve changed my mind and I’m not coming back. My comfort zone is tantalising and alluring, constantly provoking me to abandon what I’ve started and return to the place where I’m happiest and unchallenged. I’ve put on a brave face for my family and friends, but my heart is completely shattered and my eyes have felt the sting of tears during this past week too many times for my comfort. This is my second trip home in eight months and just as the time before this, I’m contemplating tapping out.

I’m at a point in life where all that I’ve done so far can be compared to little pieces of a picture and while I imagine the final product will be something offensively beautiful I’m not certain what it’s supposed to look like so I can only hope that all the pieces will fit together perfectly in the end. I chased after academia because he seduced me and I gave in but now that we’ve laid together I look at him and question what about him was so appealing that I decided to leave home and pursue sleepless nights at his Cabana in a foreign land. Hopefully, this is a phase, and soon I would shake this sullen feeling and be back to my bubbly, energetic self; taking on new challenges and making my mark on the world!

For now, however I am sad and I wish I didn’t have to leave this beautiful island and my amazing family to go back to Jamaica.

Gov’t Bailout Feathers UWI’s Nest

THE EDITOR, Sir:

It is baffling that the University of the West Indies student body is celebrating the Government’s short-term solution of offering $300 million to final-year students being barred from sitting final exams. But I ask while the proposed bailout is much needed and graciously welcome, can we expect the Government to bail out final-year students every academic year? If the answer to that question is yes, let’s celebrate this accomplishment and give credit where credit is due and praise the JLP for answering the prayers of present and future UWI students.

If, however, the answer is no, I suggest we focus on the bigger picture and seek to find a long-term solution to this problem that has been plaguing students of the UWI for far too long.

The UWI is developing a track record for demonstrating that money trumps student welfare at the institution. In fairness, I agree that students should pay what is owed. However, the point at which the administration demands this payment clearly shows that the institution is more concerned with dollars and cents than it is with student advancement and development.

DELAYS

The cost to final-year students who aren’t allowed to sit exams because of outstanding fees greatly exceeds the actual figure owed to the university. Many of these students already have huge loans accumulating interest, and a delay in completion of their degree means delaying the chance for students to earn money – at least at the rate of a person with a degree, it means delaying when they begin to repay their loans and having to pay even greater interest on these loans.

A common consideration among many final-year students is to go on the travel-work programme and earn money to finish paying their tuition before graduation. The problem here is that the UWI has not taken this factor into consideration, and rather than withholding students’ transcripts or certificates, it chooses instead to act in a way that is detrimental to students.

The UWI’s solution to this problem is equivalent to wringing the hands of their impoverished students behind their backs while pressing them against a barbed-wire fence ensuring that they feel immense pain for even daring to owe the region’s premier learning institution.

REAL WINNER

So while the student body rejoices in this supposed win, the real winner is the UWI’s administration, which is now perched on a glorious throne, unconcerned about which students will benefit from the bailout, but resting assured that its bank accounts will definitely look healthier in the next couple weeks.

Don’t get me wrong, we applaud the Government for stepping in, but its involvement is putting a pretty bandage on a rotting sore. The system used to recover funds from students at the UWI is inherently flawed and there is the need for a better system to be established.

Akeela N. Marin

President, UWI Mona Debating and Public Speaking Society

 

The published article can be found here: The Gleaner