How many times has someone given you the advice, “Just make sure you don’t burn your bridges.” (How do you punctuate that first sentence anyway? There’s a missing question mark, but where does it go?)
I’ve heard and heeded that advice many times in my life. I think I’ve done a pretty good job of maintaining those bridges. The truth is there’s never an intention of burning anything. Here’s a case in point.
Years ago, we got a new principal after our previous principal was promoted. Many of us loved that previous principal; that principal was also a good friend. At the same time I was working on my masters degree and a classmate convinced me that we should move from elementary school to middle school the next year. After 15 years at the same school, no attachment to the current principal, it seemed like a good move. It was time to take a leap into a new adventure, one that would help me grow professionally and personally.
When I told my friends and colleagues of my plan, I heard over and over, “Just don’t burn your bridges.” Well, I wasn’t trying to! Also, what would I do to burn that bridge? Was leaving enough to spark the flame? It wasn’t personal. Anyway, I apparently didn’t burn that bridge because I recently reconnected with that new principal who has since moved on and it was a happy reunion.
This reminded me of a different perspective that a friend had: sometimes it’s not worth saving the bridge. Going back to that scenario and my move to middle school…would I want to continue to rely on or be connected with the principal if she wasn’t happy with me taking this next step? I don’t know, maybe not. I think I’ve been conditioned for such a long time to not make waves, put other people first, that it didn’t even occur to me that there are times when a bridge isn’t worth saving. That doesn’t mean I’m planning on burning any bridges soon! But maybe some people have burned theirs with me…
Well, now I’m thinking about the friend and the water under the bridge post I wrote a few days ago. Seems like all my bridge posts may be variations on the same theme!