Leaving Is An Art (Expat Story)

“Leave” may be a short word, but it can bring a 180-degree life change. And while leaving can cause a lot of pain initially, a well-considered departure can lead you to a better life. In this piece, psychologist Dimiliana Nikiforou shares her personal reflections on the art of leaving, and looks at the many possible “whats” and “whys” behind departures…


Have you ever faced a situation where you weren’t sure whether it was more painful to stay or to go? How did you deal with it? And looking back, are you satisfied with your decision?

Anyone who has left a place, person or situation has had their reasons for making the break. The reasons for leaving can be as complex and unique as each individual.

However, there are some deep truths that can help you to make a decision that’s right for you, especially when your decision affects your well-being or if there is a new opportunity that’s calling to you. If you feel like exploring these truths, do keep reading!  


Time to leave?

It is common to have attachments to situations and habits that harm our inner world or tranquility; attachments to people who have little to offer us or are toxic to us.

You might experience relationships that choke you and let you down. Friendships that keep you chained to the ground when you have the opportunity to spread your wings and fly. Or people who are sticking with you because they’re afraid of their own loneliness.

And what about a family that limits you and keeps you gripped in their drama, so that you can no longer see a good reason to stay?

This is the time to ask yourself: can this situation be resolved? Is there anything you could do to bring healing? If you find that the answer is, truthfully, no, and that staying will deprive you of personal peace and growth, or even affect your physical or emotional health, it might be time to leave. Leaving, in this context, may give you the chance to have a better future.

Building a career has its challenges too, and it might feel hard sometimes to find a job that offers you true fulfilment. If you are exploited or undervalued, it may be time to look elsewhere. To escape a job that weighs you down and causes you anxiety, when in reality you’re made for the stars.

It can be painful but also beautiful and satisfying to leave. Leaving can feel bitter-sweet, and that’s okay! It’s sometimes also important, or even necessary, to leave in search of better things. Leaving is freedom; it is peace but also war. Sometimes you may leave without saying “We’ll keep in touch”. You might leave silently, without farewells and tears.


You might choose to….

Go away when something is mediocre, because you’re someone who doesn’t even like your coffee mediocre!

Leave your comfort zone and dare to risk, in order to learn. Take it slowly; there’s no rush.

Leave home to build a palace on your own.

Leave because you don’t know why you’re still there.

Go because the reasons to stay are fewer than the reasons to leave.

Get away without taking anything with you, only the lessons and some memories.

Leave when you feel the time is over, and because the movie of your life must have a better epilogue.


But what if I can’t leave?

Not everyone is in a position to leave without causing enormous upheaval. Your leaving might affect others (like your children) or have financial consequences. You may face certain limitations (e.g. legal or financial) that restrict you from leaving with freedom. These are very real constraints. If this is you, be kind to yourself. Seek support in every form available to you – that may include counselling. In time, the situation may evolve to the point where it is easier to leave, or life may present a surprising and supportive solution for you.


If you leave…

… take a step back and give yourself time to appreciate what you are and what you have accomplished so far. Stay steady and slowly walk away. Move away from unhealthy situations, and never forget the reasons you left. Try to open new doors with the keys that fall into your hands. Walk tall into your next chapter…


When is it right to leave? Join the conversation below! If you liked this article, subscribe to our newsletter and share the article with a loved one who who totally “gets” this dilemma.