Being naturally and sometimes exhaustingly empathetic, I can understand why others value commitment. It’s safe, stable and secure. Or, the polar opposite of what I have come to understand as integral to happiness in my own life. It’s taken me a few years of trial and error and misunderstandings but I now know that I have no issues, just a profound desire not to commit. Again, I don’t have commitment issues. It’s more that I’ve developed a keen sense of self in regards to what is worthwhile to commit to in my own life. When I get too comfortable I devise a way to drastically alter something.
Change is a beacon of hope in an often overwhelmingly routine-based world. Routine is a sedative; it numbs to the existence of real choice and freedom. No, not the usual choices embedded within the average western lifestyle. But real choice that shapes and changes a person, directing them closer to whatever it is they are seeking. Routine and the western lifestyle demand levels of commitment I’m not prepared to surrender, for things that should be more easily questioned and even done away with.
Those who travel get an insight into how change promotes adaptive behaviour, and that adaptiveness is a key component to personal growth. Commitment for commitment’s sake – such as that demanded through an individual’s adherence to western life – has become synonymous with western culture. Think material purchases, fancy meals, pricey outings, or alcohol consumption.
Those who choose anything outside this, be it an alternative job or endeavour, living style or lack of material capital, are also able to accelerate personal growth through adaptive behaviour. Very few of us are naturally attuned to taking value from certain aspects of western life.
This is why I don’t like commitment. Because it is not something that should be undertaken lightly but it is given no thought at all. Commitment is a cultural expectation. You must commit to another person, one career, your job, a mortgage and a life of purchasing goods and services to create meaning.
Consumption isn’t a bad thing if it is conscious and deliberate. It is necessary to fuel our economies and it allows individuals to provide and purchase what they need to survive. It allows those who wish to make a living through art to sell their goods, and allows those purchasing to select items expressing their uniqueness. It allows gift giving which is a foundation of many societies.
But the mindless consumption associated with capitalism makes it difficult for individuals with often brilliant but small-scale ideas to carve out a living. So, if someone has a commitment to purchasing handmade or local goods then this is a positive commitment that has been arrived at through consideration and understanding of the world. This is positive commitment.
As for commitment to another person, as you grow older everyone becomes more selective of their confidants. You become aware of your own needs and feel more comfortable making it clear when those are not met. This then allows for careful commitment to those who value you equally. This is positive commitment.
Commitment to a significant other can be a wonderful thing. This is often a positive commitment. As is the decision to not date, or to pursue an alternative relationship model more suited to you. Careful thought and consideration causes people to arrive at these understandings and decisions. Understanding other people and a deep understanding of oneself are both positive commitments to undertake. It’s a beautiful thing to know oneself to that extent. To understand is all the more important once you’ve got the courage to not commit.