The importance of cutting ties
A TEDx talk adaptation written and performed by Yoanna Koleva
In one year I lost my ability to love, my best friend and my sanity – not necessarily in any particular order. I made decisions about my life because I chose to put myself first. And believe me, it took me a lot of time to realise that there is nothing egoistic in choosing myself as the leading role in my own Hollywood production.
Cutting ties with things, with people, with the past. It is a mind-altering concept that exists only on a subconscious level within us. That is, until we realise how badly certain things can affect us. That is, until we realise it is necessary to shelter ourselves. And trust me, I am tired of hearing “Experiences shape us”, “Life goes on”. and my personal favourite – “people come and go”, that’s why I am taking you on a journey where no phrases apply, it all depends on you and how you choose to interpret your own reality.
When I was little, my biggest fear was going to the hairdresser, there was something absolutely terrifying about the idea of losing my hair, and although my mother sat next to me telling me that new strands will grow in its place and I will look the same, I still felt horrible. I reacted that way because I associate “loss” with sadness, grief, bitterness. You see, it sounds shallow, but we all go through it, dwelling on how it will never be the same and thinking about the consequences – the consequences of such benign aspects of our lives such as material things and experiences.
The exact same thing applies to sports, degrees and everything that counts as a hobby or aspiration. I am more than certain that everyone in this room wanted to be either a ballerina, a firefighter or Cristiano Ronaldo when they were growing up. I went through possibly every sport and activity there is, until I realised what I truly wanted to do – none of those. And every time I failed at something, every time I lost interest it hurt me, because it is such a common thing to invest emotionally and physically into an experience, and when you do so, it is harder to let go. We all sacrifice be it excessive time, health regime or leaving our hometown to follow this experience, and when we realise at a certain point that it no longer brings us joy and feeds our soul, when we realise it drains our happiness, we start questioning whether it is worth it to give up, and invest the same time into something else. That is where I choose to quote a dear friend of mine, a world Olympic champion – “I have seven golden medals, 2 million in my bank account, I had my period for the first time when I was 18 and I have never tasted candy in my life – now I am 25, engaged, read stories to orphans and I’ve never been happier in my entire life.”
But how is it with people? We understand the essence of a need of letting go of people, but what we struggle with is letting go of persistent memories we build overtime with someone. We also aren’t blessed with with the memory-erasing services found in the movie “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless mind”. The irony is that we struggle not with letting go of people themselves, but of the memories and habits we have formed with them. We associate the little bar we used to sing karaoke in, the flower shop we pick up fresh lavender for our flats’ Instagram aesthetics and the spinning classes we went to hungover but confident we will burn the vodka carbs from... we associate these landmarks with them, the people we so desperately are trying to let go of. That is purely because we form a connection with the soul of the person, So when someone asks us “Why do you like that person?” we answer, “I don’t know, I just do” – because people are predisposed to making bonds with any person, that’s what I like to call “standing somewhere without knowing why” – when your soul aches for one more adventure to zone 8 of London with someone. We all reach a point of limit, don’t we? Limit to how much we can give out to accommodate someone else. Firstly, because as we grow, we change, isn’t that the easiest and most straightforward thing to consider? We don’t feel the change. We do not know if we have changed until we see how different we are with the person we used to love Why should I move if he/she doesn’t want to? No, it is not a stubborn move, it is simply human. When you don’t share with a person the same ambitions, interests and goals, don’t you feel like as hard as you push and try, one of you will always feel miserable? Either you, because you are trying, or them, because they don’t try enough.
I learned to say goodbye despite the pain and the memories, because the bridges I walked on with the ones I loved crumbled in the middle. We tried, but we cared too much for ourselves to mend what was broken. I really don’t blame anyone, we had nothing to gain by fixing over and over again what were the remaining of a burned castle. I was diagnosed with anxiety over the summer and although it sounds like one of those overused conditions, it affects your relationships with people – you question yourself and them, you ache for attention and learn to be stronger. My problems mostly came from the strength, because not many people react well to it, it intimidates, it pressures and it pushes you to a state of competition, think “balance of power” in realism. Something my doctor told me was “Don’t be afraid to cut off people that do not make you feel comfortable with yourself.”, but how could I cut someone I shared a flat with for two years? Turns out, they made the decision before me. I was on mute and the remote was in someone else’s hands. But I had no other option, but to breathe and continue my life, I couldn’t grieve for someone that simply wasn’t the same person anymore, someone that didn’t want to be my friend anymore. It did not matter. Because our sanity matters most. Because I left my troubles to take over my body instead of reacting earlier on and cutting off things that poisoned my blood, not because they were bad, but because they changed. Fighting is worth it, but every war has an end, if you keep fighting for a cause that changed overtime, why continue for the sake of fighting? Don’t give up on loving people, continue cherishing them, having fondness of them, but don’t force what poisons both of you.
That being said, I firmly believe that it is necessary that we cut ties with certain people and experiences in our lives at one point or another. That, however, does not mean forgetting memories or being indifferent takes place, we simply continue, but with a newly acquired knowledge that we have to take on another path in to the future… a path without them, a path with a new “us.”