In 1863 during the Civil War, the Wrightsville Bridge was burned to prevent the Confederate Army from crossing the river from York to the state capital. The bridge caught fire and was completely burned. The rebels were denied access. Some say that if it wasn’t for the burning of the bridge, the Civil War may have taken a different path.
I’d bet a lot of us here heard or was even told not to burn bridges. But what if burning that bridge is the one that saves you?
In 2012, I was one of the many fresh graduates travelling into the new chapter of her life. I was young, hopeful, full of energy. I was just out of college and was still in the bubble that the world is not a very dangerous place–or so I thought.
They say choose your battles, so for almost 2 years after college I chose to fight one. I was under the mindset that you choose your battles and make sure you win it. But little did I know that in that choice I will learn, at an early age, that there are battles you continue to fight and there are those you give up. And that probably is what it means to ‘choose your battles’.
After much heartbreaks, pains, and wounds, I came to surrender. I waved the white flag and gave up. I closed that chapter but in the process, I had to burn some bridges. The job I gave up was nothing compared to the other bridges I burned–my relationship with colleagues who became friends and my relationship with the organization I believed in. It was in this phase of my life that I kept telling the world that I am too young to face all these challenges. I have always been the person who believed that giving up is never an option and so, my character, my values, and everything I have believed in were shaken.
I’ve come to realize though that some bridges burn so that we can walk again. There are relationships that have become part of our lives already that we hold on to them, no matter how painful they have become. We try so hard to save them, that we forget to save ourselves first. But there are relationships- may it be with a colleague, a friend or a significant other- that are challenged so that we learn something from them. As much as it hurts, sometimes, the thing we learn from our challenged relationships is how to give it up; to know when to fight that battle and when to give it up. But even if this truth is difficult to accept, I believe relationships that end, bridges that burn, are chances for other relationships to flourish.
There are times that we want to spread ourselves to everyone- to our friends, to our job, to our families. But in the process, we fail to see that indeed we have spread ourselves, often too thinly. Some bridges burn so that we don’t have to spend energy fighting a battle and instead, spend it to improve the quality of our other relationships- those that matter most.
Some bridges burn so that we learn to look forward and not back. Sometimes, we become too focused on what we could lose, instead of looking at what we could gain. We hold onto so much heavy baggage, not realizing that we can carry more if we let it go.
Some bridges burn not because the journey is over but only because that bridge isn’t the one that will take you to your destination.