I can remember with lucent clarity the first time I embraced an end. I was talking to my brother about a recent rejection I encountered. Basically, I cared about someone who didn’t care about me the same way. Simple enough, but moderately excruciating in the moment, especially when this person was so inherently good. It’s so much easier when they’re awful, right?
I was upfront about my feelings. I put them out there in one of the most vulnerable moments of my life. It’s was like that whole “grand gesture” scene of a movie when the suspenseful, 90s-inspired music starts playing and the protagonist is running through rain-ridden streets to “his” house. And guess what? I didn’t get what I hoped for. The music flopped, and I walked home in puddles. That’s super dramatic, but you get the b-level motion picture.
And that was that. I thought I would feel empty, self-conscious, or out of control after. I felt a lot of emotions flood over me, but none of them were negative. None of them were hopeless. They were the exact opposite, actually. Within moments, I was making peace with the situation. Years of pent-up, protected feelings were gone in one ultimate, certain rejection. My confusion and doubt went along with them. “You know what that is, don’t you?” my brother asked as I vocalized this foregin emotion. “That’s closure.”
The term “closure” is thrown around quite a bit during any kind of substantial end. It’s plainly defined as “an often comforting or satisfying sense of finality.” The end of a job, the end of a relationship, the end of an addiction – any type of end leaves us craving closure. We grieve for it. We pick ourselves up from its slamming door. Then, we build our “new normal” in its presence. But what does this “satisfaction” stem from? Why do we take comfort in an inarguable, absolute end?
It Eliminates the “What-Ifs”
Emotions have more strength than we give them credit for. Love, anger, lust, depression. These are some of the most muscular of emotions, but one of the strongest of them all? Regret. There’s few things worse than wishing you would have done something, or said something when you had the chance. Whether it’s packing a bag or moving across the country on a whim, or taking the leap into a new career – there’s empowerment in honesty. Sometimes we bury these tendencies or feelings because we’re afraid of losing. Losing a job, losing a friendship – even losing ourselves. But the sting that comes from not getting what you want when you want doesn’t come close to the eternal burn of never even trying. Closure eliminates the incessant itch to take another look in that rearview mirror.
It Opens Doors
Ah, the whole cliche concept of “when one door closes, another opens.” While it’s unoriginal and semi-cheesy, there’s truth to it. I think people subconsciously hold onto false hope because it’s easier. It’s the whole “I’ll start my diet on Monday” phenomenon. It allows us to put off conscious effort, or the “hard stuff” for the idealized, sometimes inaccurate, idea that we’ll eventually get what we want. Closure literally forces that cycle to come to a close. It allows us to bloom out of our shells and fully embrace the possibilities wandering around us.
It Gives Us Clarity
Closure encourages us to sit down with our short-comings and our defeats and to make peace. From that peace comes the lessons, or the pieces of essential truth, that we can carry with us to the next endeavor. Maybe it’s learning that a job doesn’t define you, or just because you love someone doesn’t mean you get to have them. I think it’s important to remember that you can’t achieve personal growth through denial. Closure is confronting the morphed, harsh facts we don’t want to, and using them as fuel for future improvement, or understanding. It might take moments, days, or years – but through closure, you can start to reconcile and comprehend why those opportunities passed you up. You’ll start to really believe that they – the career moves, the places, the people – weren’t right for you, and there’s something really freeing about that.
Overall, closure is powerful because it’s a full-on, intimate view of a not-always-pretty reality. It’s the slamming of a book, or the sunrise on a riveting 2 a.m. conversation. But it’s also the fertile seed. It’s the opportunity to stand in your truth and to flourish from it, and I think we can all benefit from that.