by Mike Toohey, M.A.
I have been writing REBT blogs for a little under two years now, and the time has come to say goodbye. But with every goodbye comes a hello. Whether it be a hello to a new person, relationship, place, or new situation (for better or worse), every goodbye brings with it a change with new challenges and opportunities. Rather than dedicate this blog to my goodbyes in the form of a Goodbye Blog, I want to share the challenges of my hellos in a Hello Blog.
As I say goodbye to being a therapist in NYC, I will be saying hi to working as a professor in CT. In fact, I am writing this blog from CT right now. Although CT itself is nice, the transition has been difficult for me since my friends are in NYC. I can visit them, of course, but not as before. For me, this has depressive potential. Part of the challenge of this hello is going to be getting myself out there and making friends. I have two months where I will not be meeting people through work, and I doubt any people will knock on my door wanting to be my friend. And if they do, it might not be in my best interest to take them up on their offer.
So, I am on a mission to make friends. I moved here on a Friday and spent the weekend unpacking, resting, and buying groceries/furniture. It was lonely and boring, especially because I did not have internet yet. In NYC, I had done a few open-mic nights (playing guitar and singing), and I decided that this would be a good way of making some friends in CT. However, I had friends with me in NY. I would be going it solo here. I immediately felt scared at the idea. Still, I told myself to look up when there were open-mic nights in my area. There was one happening that very night just down the road – I felt even more scared and told myself I needed more practice to be perfect – I decided I would do it the following week. Then I thought to myself, “Although my anxiety doesn’t like the idea of putting myself out there (and possibly getting rejected), I know that I want to do this. The goal is not to be perfect – the goal is to meet people and make friends.” It helped me to separate my anxiety from my wants/values. It wasn’t easy, but I decided to push myself through my anxiety to perform. And I did.
I played and sang covers of Jackson 5’s I Want You Back, and Rihanna’s Take a Bow. I wasn’t perfect, but I wasn’t too bad. Unfortunately, I didn’t make any friends. So I tried again. The very next open-mic opportunity was that Thursday, which was also yesterday. I played and sang my rendition of Europe’s The Final Countdown, and Jason Mraz’s I Won’t Give Up. I didn’t do well at all, and I still didn’t make any friends. One elderly gentleman covered his ears during the set. But, that only means I performed very badly, and the only way I can get better is to keep practicing and to keep performing. Even though a roomful of people hated my rendition of Jason Mraz, I am still the same flawed yet valuable human being I always was and will be. And so, I will keep performing at different places. Sooner or later, I might find a friend. In the meantime, I’m having fun performing and will (hopefully) be improving.
I would encourage you all to not see goodbyes as so terrible, but to view them as the potential for new hellos. With new hellos come unfamiliarity, which may seem scary, but it is in your best interest to do what you want and not what your anxiety wants. So on that note, I will say my thanks. Thank you to those of you who gave me positive feedback on my blogs, and thank you to those who gave me negative feedback so I could work to improve my writing. I appreciate all of it and all of you. My goal was to be helpful to at least one of you, and I hope I accomplished that. So, as I say my goodbye now, soon a new Intern will be saying their hello. And that is a good thing : )