Hello. Goodbye.

When I was younger, those two words never really weighed much; it was just a greeting, something to say when someone passes you by or when it’s time to go home from school.

Then as you get older, you realize and that those two words aren’t just something you just utter.

A ‘hello’ wasn’t simple anymore, it signified a beginning. A new chapter, a new friend, a new memory. I was ten years old when I first said ‘hello’ to gymnastics, back then I didn’t know that it would make such a big impact in my life and how from then on, my schedule would consist nothing but training hard everyday for hours. It was then when I first met my mortal nemesis, the bars; when I first jumped on the vault and I immediately fell in love with it. My first time doing cartwheels on the floor and thinking ‘this is going to be fun,’ and my shaky ‘hello’ to the beam, starting our rocky relationship.

It was after that hello when the roller coaster ride started; you either stick your landing or fall down after a pass, crying or smiling at the end of the day, winning or losing. New significant chapters are written; the first time you compete and win a gold medal, or when you are suddenly branded by your peers as ‘the gymnast,’ or when you compete in another country and are heralded as an outstanding gymnast.

Then out of nowhere, something bumps you and totally leads you off track. It was unexpected, it was brutal, it was goodbye.

What hurt the most was that, there was never a goodbye to begin with. Suddenly, your coach just left out of the blue and never came back. That was goodbye in it’s roughest form; abrupt, cold, and it signalled an ending.

It shook you like an earthquake. Your own foundations, your dreams and your capabilities are suddenly questioned. It’s like someone flooded you with ice-cold water. You woke up every morning thinking, ‘why does something feel different? Why does something feel like it’s missing?’ And as if that wasn’t enough, more goodbyes started coming in unannounced. Slowly, your teammates start to drift apart from gymnastics. Then all at once, you’re left alone.

Nothing was the same afterwards. Your competitors leave you behind, leaving a vast gap between you and them.

This was an ending. Abrupt. Cold. Torturous.

Your new coach is now suddenly preoccupied with something else, something more important, something more attainable, something that can actually lead to success.

This was goodbye, masked.

But you don’t want to hope anymore. You don’t want anymore pain. You don’t want any more goodbyes.

Because you’re just not sure if you can handle one more. One more time picking yourself up from the pieces that was left behind. You’re exhausted.

And so, before they give you the blow, you think. You pause. You wonder, is it time to say goodbye, for good?

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