Besides abacaxi, muito, and beleza, these words are the most common I speak in Portuguese. I like the feeling
the farewell has as it rolls around in a rhythmic circle in my mouth. No, I do not enjoy saying goodbyes to everyone I meet here in this welcoming country. I am actually thrilled to practice my broken, gringo Portuguese whenever I have a moment. In fact, departing from conversations is quite challenging here because the majority of people love rambling on about how cold the weather is whenever it drops below 70 degrees. Through learning and being immersed in a new language, I am constantly inside my head. Sometimes, I feel as if I have an extra subconscious in Brazil. A subconscious that presses me to use different parts of my brain while tearing my confidence into shreds. And although my high confidence is torn apart, I have had time to realize I have a phenomenal opportunity right in front of me to start new again in another language. In this experience thus far, I have identified things that I never had recognized before. And during this reflection time that is filled with conflicted ideas I cannot grasp, I noticed that I am very good at goodbyes—hence why tchau tchau is a common phrase I use.
Whenever I left my hometown Gainesville, Texas, I was ready to leave. It was not difficult for me to say my farewells for a country that was five thousand miles away. I knew something else was out there, that there was more to the world than hay bales, flat ground, snow cones, and the honey-butter chicken biscuit at Whataburger. I did not know exactly what it was I was searching for, but I knew that I needed to get away from the place I had stayed in for the entirety of my life. That drive to get out into the world was enough for me to not worry about my goodbyes; it was enough for me to move to Brazil for eight months.
Saying goodbyes can be tricky, but in my experience it has been necessary for self improvement. Farewells give you the ability to build yourself up all over again and continue onward to another path of growth. For example, everyday I say tchau tchau to my comfort zone. Whether it be talking to a stranger on the bus in a foreign language I didn’t even know a few months ago or entering a cage full of aggressive parrots who could easily take my eyes out.
I firmly believe that sometimes self love is much more important than self sacrifice, and recognizing whenever you need to let go of something for your own personal good is essential. In order to explore new things in this world, you must excel at letting go of the old. This concept—that saying goodbye is not necessarily a bad thing—applies to my bridge year in unique ways. However, I could only understand this principle whenever I stopped to contemplate on my experience and the experience other fellows were having as well. I first thought about it whenever I was walking to the bus stop after giving one last embrace and saying my final goodbye to an amazing friend who was leaving the country for good. And later it applied to my situation with my host family; when I had to advocate for myself in order to fulfill my long term goals even if it was at the expense of having to say one more goodbye.
Tchau tchau may not be the most appropriate Portuguese phrase to use on the regular; however, I believe the negative and sentimental stigma surrounded by saying your farewells can be eradicated with a change in mindset. I know that for me being good at goodbyes has allowed me to move forward and stretch myself to achieve the goals that I want for my future. So, be confident in your Adios, or your adieu. Be strong in your arrivederci, your bon voyage, and your auf Wiedersehen. Be courageous in yourself and your own decisions because ultimately saying goodbye to someone or something just means that soon enough you will have another hello that may just change the way you think about everything around you.