Hello there my little lightbulbs!
I’m back in the UK after spending a couple of months in Guernsey, a small island between the UK and France (not a town near London like I originally thought). What started as a short visit blossomed into a longer working holiday. I got a job as a bartender, travelled the island, met loads of cool people and found the safest and most feasible cure for my itchy feet, considering the ongoing flight restrictions. I learned a lot during my time in Guernsey, but the lesson that meant the most to me, and the one I want to chat about in this post, is the benefits of temporary or short-term relationships.
We all have them- the interactions/ friendships/ romances that have a deadline, or at least seem to. They could be classmates at uni, people you’re sat next to on the train down to London or who are on the same delayed flight as you. It could be friends you make on a speed awareness course, drunk in the toilets on a night out or while you’re on holiday. Whatever the situation, you’re spending a limited amount of time with the other person and expect that time to end.
For me, I knew I would be leaving Guernsey again. True, I wasn’t sure exactly when and there was a sliver of hope that I could stay and complete the rest of my masters online. When that sliver of hope was dashed, I gave myself till 26th September to do as much as I could before heading home. Despite the time limit, I tried my best to immerse into island life. I got a job, travelled around the island, joined a yoga group and chatted with the people at the bar where I was working. This introduced me to a lot of temporary relationships with a lot of different people, which taught me how valuable these kind of relationships can be. I hope that by sharing what I learned, you’re able to appreciate them too, as well as your longer lasting relationships.
1. They are exciting
New people, new place, new situation; it’s all new and very exciting! You get to be whoever you want and reveal which parts of yourself you want to reveal. Now, I’m a pretty open person so I can’t say that Guernsey Jess was much different from usual Jess; but, it was nice speaking to people who didn’t know all about my previous traumas, or what I was like in high school, or that I used to binge play the Sims 2 for 8 hours straight. It was the same for the people I was meeting. I was able to learn about these people at whatever pace they were comfortable with.
There’s also nothing more exciting than that moment when you click with someone new and realise you have something in common, like; oh my god! You know that film? You’ve been to this place? You’re passionate/ interested/ insecure about this too?
2. They are intense
Following on from the excitement, short-term relationships can be pretty intense. You’re shoving a lifetime of memories and personality into a small window of time. It can be quite overwhelming… but usually in a good way. There were so many times I’d be just blown away when speaking to someone. I’d be learning about their life, what difficulties they’ve been through or where they want to be and find myself inspired by their endurance, achievement and sheer humanity. It’s a beautiful reason to be left speechless and I hope to keep finding those moments going forward.
3. They boost confidence
Amidst all the excitement is a lot of interest. They want to know about you, you want to know about them. You’re enthusiastic about each other’s history, hobbies and stories, which is a nice feeling.
It’s easy to forget how cool we are because we so often take ourselves for granted. Sometimes we just need a refreshing reminder. Plus, someone new might see you in a way that you haven’t considered before. They can shine a light onto you, at a different angle, helping you to see the sparkling, awe-inspiring existence that was always there.
4. They are revealing
Continuing with the spotlight analogy, which is quite fitting for this blog (akarui=bright) new relationships can highlight different things about the other relationships in your life. A conversation with someone new can remind you of a hobby you shared with a friend or a time that someone helped you through a difficult time and how grateful you are to that person. During my time in Guernsey I was often reminded of how much I missed my best friend, Rach. I’d have conversations about films or memories that we’d shared and look forward to seeing her again.
These new perspectives can also help you to notice the less successful relationships in your life and maybe even identify why they’re not working so well. It’s not so much a ‘my new friends are better’ situation, but it’s definitely valuable if you can see there are ways that you ought to be treated.
Last but not least, you might also learn something new about yours truly. Noticing how you act with different people and react to different situations can help you understand and accept more parts of yourself. For example, I’m a proper little nerd and hanging out with the very cool hospitality staff members made me realise it, and love it, even more. It was also cool to find a lot of people I didn’t expect to have similar interests to me!
5. They are mindful
When time is limited, we’re forced to focus on the time we have and we only have the present. Focusing on the present allows us to accept things as they are, with less worry about the future and guilt from the past. This happens to be the key to mindfulness and reducing anxiety.
I am a mega planner, but by being present, I spent time my time getting to know people, communicating more deeply, spending time with myself and just being. I left worrying about what would happen when I got home for future-Jess. Now I’m home and I’m fine. There’s obviously been some stress and worry about finding work and starting uni, but I kept organised and resourceful. I know I’m going to be ok and I’m grateful for how I spent my time.
6. They are accepting
By keeping us in the present, short-term relationships reject the tendency of taking people for granted. While you’re still learning about the other person, nothing is routine so it’s almost impossible to take them for granted. Instead you’re soaking them in, learning about what makes them who they are. It’s at this point that you’re able to accept and appreciate the person for who they are and hopefully develop this as a more constant skill throughout all of your relationships.
7. They are low pressure
One of the best things about short-term relationships is that if they don’t work out, it doesn’t matter; you aren’t going to see them again. There’s less pressure on you getting along which helps to develop an ‘it is what it is’ kind of mindset and makes it easier to be more honest with other people.
This is something I want to integrate more into my long-term relationships. It’s more common to let things slide to save face because it feels like there’s more to lose. When in fact, being open and honest is what those relationships need to make them last. Plus, no matter how long you spend with someone, if your relationship is consistently negative or doesn’t serve your personal growth you are completely in your right to end it or get distance.
8. They allow perspective
One of the scarier parts of temporary relationships is starting them. You might be new to an already-established group and feel a bit on the outside. It’s completely normal to be a little worried, but even this stage has a very serious perk. You learn the importance of taking a step back. Some of my most beautiful memories of people in Guernsey didn’t directly involve me. Instead, I was present for other people’s interactions and got to appreciate them from a bit more of a distance.
I could see friends supporting each other when they were nervous to go up on the open-mic, or see how deeply friends cared about each other from the advice they gave or how often they swore at each other. I’d recommend taking a step back every now and then, even in your longer-term relationships, and just appreciating how special the people in your life are. It’s honestly one of the most heart-warming feelings ever.
All relationships are temporary
All relationships are temporary to some extent; some may be more or less than others depending on your beliefs. But even relationships that span years are, at some point, likely to change or end for any reason and that can be a scary thought, one that can impact the relationships themselves. We start a relationship and fear a breakup. We start friendships and fear disagreements. We fear losing people from death or distance, pride or betrayal. But read back through all of those positives we’ve talked about. They apply to each and every relationship because every relationship is temporary.
Their finite-ness is what makes them so beautiful, humanising and meaningful. It’s from meeting and learning new people that we get closer to our own humanity, we get to learn ourselves better. Seeing the passion in someone’s eyes when they talk about cooking or the excitement when they’re talking about their home country or the relief in someone’s eyes when they talk about moving somewhere new… it instils those same things in you. It makes you think, what makes me that passionate? What am I excited to do? What would bring me that freedom and relief? It’s a beautiful thing.
Instead of fearing what time we might not have, we can enjoy and appreciate that we do have time. We have the time to meet, learn and love new people and they will do the same for us. We even have the opportunity to choose the people we would like to keep around a little longer. I don’t know about you, but that seems pretty amazing to me.
‘会うは別れの始め (Au ha wakare no hajime) / Meeting is the beginning of separation.’