I’ve found that keeping all my options open, all the time, doesn’t give me the same sense of freedom as making commitments and sticking with them.
One thing I’ve always loved about being single is the freedom to follow my own voice and chart my own course without the demands or influence of another person who may have a different idea about how my life should be lived.
Critics say that kind of freedom really means an inability to make a commitment. They view commitment and freedom as opposites — if freedom means choosing what you want to do when you want to do it, and commitment means a willingness to take on grown-up obligations and responsibility. But from my point of view, commitments have nothing to do with limiting my freedom. In fact, making a commitment actually expands my sense of freedom.
Sound crazy? Consider this. When you make a commitment to something, you’re free from having to mull over, debate, reconsider, seek outside opinions and second-guess yourself because the commitment has been made. It’s a done deal.
For example, if I make a commitment to go back to school, I’ve obligated myself to take the necessary actions — enroll, attend class, do the homework and all the other obligations required to get an advanced degree. Once I have a self-promise in place, I no longer have a daily debate in my head that goes something like this: “Am I smart enough?” “Will my dating life suffer?” “Will it cost too much money?” “Will people think I’m having a mid-life crisis?”
It also eliminates any need to solicit opinions from friends and family as to whether my commitment to go back to school was a good idea in the first place. Their two cents on the subject doesn’t matter — once I’ve made the commitment.
The same process goes for relationships too. How many people (besides Kim Kardashian) get married with the idea that divorce is always an option if things get boring or require too much effort?
When I was mulling over the idea of marrying my ex-husband, I can’t tell you how many people told me, “Well, if it doesn’t work out, you can always get a divorce.” Certainly, there are good reasons to get a divorce. But if you’ve truly made a commitment to someone (and marriage is one of the biggies), how can you expect to have a successful relationship if you’re constantly second-guessing, finding fault and agonizing with your friends about whether you made the right decision?
I think many of my single friends get a bum rap for being commitment-phobic, when, in fact, they are completely aware of what a commitment really means. Some are committed to a profession. Some are committed to raising a child. Others are committed to completing a book, running a marathon, creating a work of art. Maybe, someday, they will even want to commit to marriage. But since they value the concept of commitment and know it requires discipline, they don’t take their commitments lightly and they don’t turn back once a commitment is made.
Although being commitment-less and having unlimited options could be considered freedom, having endless choices to consider and re-consider can create self-doubt that’s exhausting. With each commitment I make, I’m freed from “should I or shouldn’t I,” which releases a huge amount of mental real estate that can be channeled into actually getting something accomplished.
Copyright © Kim Calvert/2014 Singular Communications, LLC.