(This post was inspired by the daily prompt)
Commitment. It’s a bit of a buzz word in this day and age. My generation in particular are characterised by our inability to retain interest in anything longer than a Snapchat video, and divorce rates, whilst they may have gone down since the 80s, are still nothing short of gloomy for soon-to-be newlyweds. People will often talk about the commitment of our grandparents, who met so young and have been together so long, but I wonder if that’s the right kind of message to be sending out to people.
Hear me out.
Do I want to meet my soulmate when I’m still young and I have all the time in the world to spend the rest of my life with them? Absolutely. That’s the dream. Not just for me, but for a lot of people- why would you want to go through multiple heart breaks before finding ‘the one’? One of the biggest compliments you can give someone is ‘I wish I met you earlier’, but the choice phrase I used with my ex was ‘I wish I met you later’. Perhaps it was a rare streak of pessimism, or perhaps it was my acute awareness of my lack of experience in long-term relationships, and how much time I had- the rest of my life- to get everything wrong. So when things did start going wrong, I used the romanticised ideal of the generation who didn’t DO divorce, the mantra that love is hard, so roll up your sleeves and get working on it.
Not to say that isn’t true, but as I have heard someone aptly put it- love should be joyful work.
The thing is about our grandparents generation, is that their situation is vastly different from ours. In my grandparents case, only one of them went to university- the men. In this day and age where everyone has their own individual life goals, life sometimes pulls people in different directions. As I said in an earlier post, dreams are malleable. If your dreams don’t directly contradict each other, it is completely viable to find a way to pursue your passions without getting in the way of your partners. But that doesn’t always happen. Another incentive for avoiding divorce: eternal damnation. Whilst religion is still incredibly mainstream, we live in a secular society. If you eliminate the presence of a grumpy man in the sky who has an unwarranted aversion to separation, what’s stopping you from leaving? Commitment- sure, you committed to something. You made promises, but look at your current situation. Does it look like what you committed yourself to?
Situations change. People change. They grow apart. Sometimes they can be brought back together. Sometimes not. And that’s okay.
Commitment also applies to career decisions too. If you said when you were a kid you wanted to be a pop star but at 32 you’re getting kind of sick of gigging in a cramped tour bus to half empty pubs, why continue??
I’m not advocating for giving up on things just because the going gets tough. I’m just suggesting that if the only reason that you’re still in a situation is because of a commitment your younger self made before the realities of the situation became clear, then you should get out.
Of course things are more often than not more nuanced than that- maybe you have kids, or still love the person, or any number of combinations.
Commitment is also a scary thing. Our society believes dying for love is hopelessly romantic, but by committing to someone blindly, you run the risk of compromising your mental, emotional, or even physical health. Committing to someone to such an extent where you will give up all of your personal boundaries for them is downright unhealthy.
There are no prizes at the finish line for being committed to someone or something. Just entropy. For all of us. So if you’re in a hopeless situation but you’re afraid of leaving due to breaking a commitment, remember that if you don’t want to be there, you’re probably not doing the person or career justice. Save yourself, save that other person, and commit to happiness, for yourself and others. Use your time wisely. Commit to that.