Crazy huh? After a whole year of waiting for the next Polyglot Gathering, it’s over.
Just like that.
Across the board, especially for newcomers to the community, there is a resounding realization passing through our heads.
We scream, “I’m not the only one!!”
What a relieving truth that is.
When You Feel at Home
Was there a time when you really connected with someone or discovered long lost family?
Maybe you just came back from a conference or an event of like-minded people filled with incredible happiness. It’s always an indescribable sensation you don’t want to be without again.
I remember going to my first gathering of people that spoke languages other than English. What an insane concept! Once I arrived, I knew I was hooked.
It wasn’t just because there were others who loved the same things I did, but because for once I was no longer alone. Instead of being the kid with five party tricks (one for each language) I was normal. In fact, there were others who were better than me!
The compelling conversations, the people who understood, and the plethora of languages and dialects were pure heaven for me. Up to this point, no one else I knew in my life cared about any of these topics.
But before I knew it, it was over.
I began asking myself, “What took so long for this to happen in my life?” The other thought I had was, “How could I have this around me at all times?” Unfortunately, it’s not really possible.
I had the chance of being around others like myself again in Thessaloniki at the Polyglot Conference. Each gathering seemed to pass quicker than the last.
The word goodbye became undesirable.
Painful Goodbyes and How to Fix them.
Towards the end of this year’s Polyglot Gathering, people were already displaying their reluctance to leave.
For most, every goodbye was leaving a community they had only gotten to know. One they longed for their entire lives.
Many felt like they were returning to a world of lonely darkness.
I’m right there with you. I didn’t want to leave the gathering in 2016. What makes these gatherings special is the realization that we are no longer alone. What makes the painful is the fact that we have to part.
This year was different. Despite my unwillingness to leave and desire to hang out with everyone till the last second possible, I wasn’t sad to leave.
It’s not that I had become numb to my feelings. I had a change of heart.
In my reflection of these events, I found a few rules that kept me rooted in saying goodbye with a full smile.
1. Realize That Goodbyes Are Beautiful.
Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened. – Dr. Seuss
Leaving a community you love and enjoy is never easy. Personally, I hate parting ways but unfortunately, it’s inevitable.
On the last day of the Polyglot Gathering and the farewell picnic people were taking off left and right. But with each goodbye, I smiled.
I wasn’t happy to let people go until fate brought us back together. But then I realized: Life is too short to wade in sadness and just long enough to make people smile.
Through positivity, we can rewire our thoughts and savor the beauty held in a goodbye.
What exactly happens in a goodbye?
A hug, a smile, beautiful words, a few precious seconds, and the gift of friendship. If you count them all, it’s the embodiment of the Five Love Languages all wrapped in one.
Goodbyes are the most human way possible to let out some emotions and reaffirm someone’s importance to you.
2. Follow Up and Be There
Remember this: It’s not goodbye, it’s till next time.
Something I like to do immediately after I meet people (especially after big events) is get in touch. This can be through Facebook, email, or text.
Think that’s weird?
To me, it doesn’t matter if we just had dinner an hour ago. Making the first step solidifies a relationship rather than leaving it sealed in time. Not to mention people really appreciate when we make the effort to thank them for spending time with us. In a way, it’s like putting a signature on a piece of paper to seal the deal.
This act shows that just because someone isn’t with you doesn’t mean you’ve forgotten about them.
In fact, you care about them very much. So much so that you took the initiative and reached out to them first. It reassures them that you will see them again.
I’m currently making my way to each person I met over the gathering. There’s still a lot of people to go, but so far the response has been heartfelt and appreciated.
If you can’t remember all the people you met, don’t forget the participants list on the website. It’ll come in handy!
3. Know There Will be More.
As important as it is to live in the moment, we can live so much in the moment that we forget what is to come! Let’s have a bit of hope and remember that it’s never the end.
For those in the language community, I’m sure you’ve noticed we’re growing at exponential rates. Within the past five years of gatherings, we now have three such worldwide events.In addition to the Polyglot Gathering there’s also the Polyglot Conference and now LangFest, and there’s some talk we’re working on a new one in Asia. But that’s not all!
The beauty of the age we live in is the fact that we can relive moments again and again!
Thousands of photos and videos were shot this past week and online for us all to see. Don’t forget that the presentations will be put online as well as those from past events!
How cool is it that we can access a certain time and space all with the click of a button?
In fact, even if you didn’t take any photos or video we have awesome people that did it for you! Here are a few vlogs from Gareth Popkins of How to Get Fluent! You might actually find yours truly featured a few times too many. 😃
Refuse to be lonely.
Fiel, that’s stupid. What type of advice is that? Telling someone to stop being lonely is not a magic wand. And you definitely don’t have one.
Do not let yourself lose hope. Instead, use that energy to figure out ways to fix our painful goodbyes.
I noticed that after meeting so many people over the years, an overwhelming majority struggle with loneliness. Why? Because we don’t always have community. But just because we can’t have a year long polyglot gathering doesn’t mean we can’t have community.
One of the great things of the 21st century is that not all your friends need to be physically around you to be a part of your life.
Two things to remember, the internet connects us all and there might be a community closer to you than you think!
Other Local (And Regular) Gatherings Worldwide
Maybe you’re wondering, “Why are none of the gatherings ever near me? Plus travel is expensive. The fact that I even got to attend was a miracle!”
I’m with you. I advocate finding something near you and helping out your local community!
If you live somewhere say Taiwan, there’s the Polyglot Language Café that meets twice a week in Taipei. Need a language partner? Try Polyglot Indonesia where I’m a Director of International Outreach and Partnerships. We’re spread out across 10 different cities and we’re always for looking for fresh blood, um, I mean new language partners. If you get in touch with me directly, I can find you a partner for whatever language you need (especially Indonesian!)
We are the world!
We may have discovered others like us, but there are still more out there! There are dozens of others who share the same interests but for one reason or another have simply been unable to say hello.
There are others that one day will join our ranks despite not caring for languages in the present.
We can use our amazing skills and love for the world to be contagious! Show that even though the people around us wherever we live aren’t like us, doesn’t mean we can’t be friends.
After attending the large amount of talks and workshops that we have, we should be recharged and ready to face the reality of the world! That’s why these events exist! To equip us to go out there and be a peacemaker in the world at large.
To love out loud and hit adventure in the face.
Let me know your thoughts and ideas down below. Even if I didn’t get to meet you personally, I’d love to hear from you.