Tackling a fear of commitment

December 10, 2012 in Life,Philosophy

My friends and I have a long-running joke over how funny I am, ever since the day that I claimed I was the wittiest “because my birthday keychain says so.” My birthday keychain also proclaimed that those born on June 9 were fearful of commitment. Regardless of whether my friends bow down to me as the funniest in the group, they all agree that I’m only predictable in being unpredictable.

I’ve always been indecisive: I’m the girl whom waitresses hate because I either a) can’t make up my mind or b) switch my order as soon as I put it in. I also generally refuse to decide where to go on dates (surprise me!), sign leases (month-to-month, please and thank you) or get tattoos (so by permanent…you mean permanent). My mom is pretty stoked about that last one, but other than that, people tend to have a hard time dealing with someone who can never make up her mind.

In short: I am not good at commitment. I have a six-month attention span. I tend to do things like, you know, book a one-way ticket to France or Australia or Bali on a whim. I don’t like leases, contracts, agreements where you have to sign on the dotted line. This generally makes me an unsuitable candidate for things like serious relationships, “real jobs” or living in cities with an extremely competitive housing market.

In an attempt to stay both intellectually engaged and culturally hip, I like to trade off my subway reading: a serious non-fiction, then a light-hearted beach read, then back to something serious and so on. My latest commuting guilty pleasure was “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?” by Mindy Kaling, a writer for The Office. One of her essays on what women are looking for in a man (namely, an ability to commit) jumped out at me:

But let me explain! I’m not talking about commitment to romantic relationships. I’m talking about commitment to things: houses, jobs, neighborhoods. Having a job that requires a contract. Paying a mortgage. I think when men hear that women want a commitment, they think it means commitment to a romantic relationship, but that’s not it. It’s a commitment to not floating around anymore. I want a guy who is entrenched in his own life. Entrenched is awesome.

This goes against all travel blogger ethos, but I’m impressed by commitment. Just as I’m impressed by someone who has the audacity to leave everything behind to pursue a dream of traveling the world, I’m inspired by people who wholeheartedly commit to a life. I’m intrigued by people who have worked for the same company for years, who have lived in the same apartment, who have discovered a calling and stuck with it, who fell in love with their high school sweetheart. Let me note that I’m most impressed by people who have created a life that they genuinely love, not those who are stuck in a holding pattern without the courage to make a necessary change.

But those people who are entrenched? I think it’s awesome. I am rarely entrenched in anything, because I am mentally always scanning for loopholes, reassuring myself that I can get out of anything “if I really want to.”

They say that the best way to tackle a fear is to embrace it. So, I’m deeming 2013 the year that I commit–committing to it, if you will. I’m signing a one-year lease on January 1. I’ll sign another six-month contract at work, if they’ll have me. I signed up for a once-a-week volunteer shift at Housing Works. I might actually attempt to date in New York City (I can assure you that when it comes to relationship shenanigans in NYC, Sex and the City does not exaggerate nearly as much as you’d think it does).

In short, I’m going to stop the wandering for a year and become entrenched in my own life. Be here, be present. Be the best version of my myself that I can be, even if that’s just trying to conjure up my vacation self in the city.

  • LostInCheeseland

    This is brilliant and it’s a fabulous resolution to hold yourself to. Actually, I was going to ask how revealing these antsy feelings might impact your work!

  • Jessica

    I think this is genius as well. I am heading out for my first solo travel adventure in January, but I relate to this on so many levels. I have never really committed to my life either. My friends joke that I am a gypsy because even though I don’t travel, I’ve moved cities about 5 times in the last 5 years. I have been in a long term relationship for three and a half years, but that’s about the only thing I’ve committed to. So I think this is wonderful and will be interesting. I hope to one day be entrenched in my life as well. While making time for travel as well. :)

  • I know exactly how you feel. I always remind myself that nothing is permanent (except death, of course) so anything I choose to do can generally be undone. But the word ‘entrenched’… I guess I feel like if you really loved the wandering life you’ve been living, you were, to some degree, entrenched in it. Right? Or, in your mind, does ‘entrenched’ really mean something more stationary?

  • Briel79

    1 year lease! Congrats on deciding to become entrenched. :) I myself am stuck in a holding pattern but hopefully I can kick myself into gear with the new year to find a job I enjoy more.

    I haven’t read Mindy’s book yet but it’s been on my list since it came out. I need to get on that! I’m usually reading fiction and have been enjoying Tana French and Gillian Flynn books lately.

  • Wow 2013 is going to be a hellavu year for you, heck yes!!! The only thing I can’t make a commitment to is a house. I’m scared to death to buy one. Oh well maybe diets too…

  • Christine, I am so much like you! I was born June 6, so in a way, I am a lot like you, because of being a Gemini. I hate long commitments, such as one year-leases, and being at a company you don’t love for longer than you wish, although I have had to do so. I wish sometimes Geminis were a bit more “setlled,” as I too have itchy feet ALL the time!!

  • Megan C. Stroup

    Woohoo, good for you! Good luck with entrenchment next year. :)

  • Fran

    I share your pain on the committment front. And I also recently signed a 12 month apartment lease here in my newly adopted city of Sydney. Be interesting to see how we both get on.

  • You go girl!

  • I think I’m doing the opposite of you right now — just finishing with a two year commitment to Chicago and, while I love it here, I think it’s time to book a one-way ticket somewhere far off like Australia. It’s been a really nice change of pace to stay in a city for a while and get to know it better, and I wouldn’t trade my time here for anything, and so I wish you the best of luck getting to know New York in the next year!

  • Great post. I really identify with a lot of what you say. First of all, I am a June 8th baby, and I think part of the fear of commitment is a Gemini thing (if you believe in that stuff). But I also sometimes worry that I am so concerned about finding that next great thing around the corner that I’m not living in the present, appreciating what I have. Congrats on committing to commit and I can’t wait to hear how it goes. As for me? I have run away back to Australia to skip out on Toronto winter, but am simultaneously yearning for a settled life. Go figure!

  • Erica

    I have the same fear! Go you for starting to tackle it- I’m definitely still weary of leases and the like. Test out the waters and let me know how it goes! 😉 Is it your first Xmas in NYC? It’s my first here, so here’s to a great holiday season in this magical city! Cheers!

  • camorose

    Thanks lady! I’m all about making the most of being in New York City in 2013, and really committing to my health and my career :)

  • camorose

    What an exciting adventure! I absolutely loved my time traveling solo, but I’m really looking forward to settling down a bit :)

  • camorose

    I was definitely “entrenched” in the wandering life, but I’d love to have a bit more of a settled environment in which I control more of my surroundings. Still want to travel, but want to start having an established base to come home to –that’s NOT my parents’ house!

  • camorose

    Ohhhh I absolutely loved Gone Girl! I’ll have to check out Tana French next :)

  • camorose

    See, buying a house doesn’t scare me as much–my parents are property managers and are big on buying rental properties as investments. Now, buying a house to live in myself…that’s another story!

  • camorose

    Glad to know I’m not the only Gemini who can’t quite commit :)

  • camorose

    Thanks! We’ll see how it goes :)

  • camorose

    Ohhh Sydney is definitely one of the cities I could totally become entrenched in! I love NYC, but it doesn’t have a beach :)

  • camorose

    Thanks lady! Come and visit again–I’ll be here :)

  • camorose

    Thank you! I’m still not sure if NYC is the right choice forever, but I’m really looking forward to spending the next year here :)

  • camorose

    Fixed life envy, it’s the worst when you’ve got a case of the travel bug! I am SO guilty of always looking forward to the next thing, so I’m going to try really hard in 2013 to just be HERE.

  • camorose

    I’m actually in California for the holidays–but can’t wait to get back to the city! :)

  • That’s the kind of resolution I can stick with. But it does require consistent reminders. I might need to buy a pack of Post Its to stick up around my place:)

  • I feel like I could have written this! (Only replace NYC with the Midwest, hahaha!) Ahhh you took the words out of my BRAIN!!!

    I’ve semi-settled into a place for the past year and a half (though I still moved… just not as far… not across the country, just an hour away — so I’m getting better at it), but the word “commitment” is definitely popping up for me lately. I’m starting to see that there are benefits from being “entrenched” in life — the benefits are hard to see on the surface, but felt deeply. :)

  • camorose

    I’m traveling in Jordan right now and it’s been the most amazing trip–but I feel so incredibly happy that I am actually quite looking forward to being home in New York City. As much as I love traveling, I actually really love my life there too :)

  • Ah, that’s what I crave — having a home I love, but also being able to travel… the best of both worlds! This is awesome that you’ve found that!

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