By: Natascha Jones, Guest Blogger
My brother is deathly afraid of needles. This is a guy who doesn’t appear to be afraid of anything, but come at him with a little syringe and it’s complete fight or flight mode. This got my mom and me talking about my biggest fear. We stood in her kitchen, cooking dinner and going over the possibilities.
“Being alone?” my mom said.
“No I moved to LA by myself and I’ve traveled the world alone,” I responded.
Death? No, I’m at pretty good terms with that, I just don’t want it to hurt. Germs? Well they’re an issue, but they don’t stop me from living my life. We threw all sorts of things up in the air but each one of them were a matter I had already addressed in life; from speaking in public to riding horses, I seemed to face my fears.
And then it dawned on me; I think I’m afraid of…commitment.
It’s not that I don’t think I can just be with one person for the rest of my life, I just don’t know how. Divorce and quitting when the going gets tough were very common habits in my environment as a child. No one spoke to me about or showed me how to overcome a bump in the road or how to get over a disagreement so I’ve had to stumble and fall over this lesson for decades.
Luckily the same character trait helped me avoid getting married a few times, but it has also prevented me from being truly open to letting someone in. Not knowing how to commit to a relationship means the moment something goes wrong or there is any sort of difference of opinion, I run. I run because I either don’t want that other person to see me as anything less than perfect (impossible and boring) or because I don’t know how to be open to a constructive argument – typically these arguments and flaws are what deepens the connection and the relationship. Isn’t that ironic?
So where to start? The definition of “commitment” pulled up two entries: a state or quality of being dedicated to a cause or activity. That’s not so bad, kind of sounds like our philosophy on careers. And then there’s the second definition: an engagement or obligation that restricts freedom of action. WHAT IS THAT?? THAT SOUNDS TERRIBLE!! I don’t want my freedom restricted, and I definitely don’t want to restrict anyone else’s freedom. After reading this, I can see where all of the fear is coming from. But as is always the case, there are two ways to look at this definition.
Commitment makes us feels safe. If a potential employee has worked for their previous employer for the past eight years, you feel safe hiring them. If a student has perfect attendance, you can probably count on them to show up to a weekend commitment. Being able to put that trust into someone else brings a sense comfort. That feeling of trust gives us the freedom to explore being a better version of ourselves. What kind of person would you be if you knew your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, etc. would not leave you, even as you experience all of the pitfalls of trying to be a better person? Would you take a bigger risk emotionally, spiritually, or monetarily? Would you quit your horrible desk job to pursue your passion as a pastry chef or your dreams of opening a knitting store? Would you take off on a two-month journey through Southeast Asia in hopes of finding your true self? What would you do if you knew that person had your back through it all?
This feeling of freedom is relevant in the workplace as well. When you and your boss are both committed to the ultimate goal of the company, amazing things happen. Employees stay longer, feel safe to contribute ideas, and show initiative in leadership roles on projects. My roommate quit her job after eight months and her boss’s response was that she had a lack of commitment because she didn’t go to college. But that same boss had made numerous promises and fulfilled none of them. My roommate was grossly underpaid, massively overworked, and very uninspired. Eight months was enough, she quit that job, got a new one paying her three times more, and now feels quite committed.
In the end it seems that my fear of commitment is actually just my fear of letting someone know me and consequently hoping they’ll stick around after the façade has worn off, and I guess that’s when I’ll feel the freedom of letting my guard down in front of someone else.
While she would have to inform you that her “day” job is in esthetics and makeup artistry, Natascha truly spends her days in sunny Venice Beach laughing with her friends, riding her bike, and telling grandiose stories encouraging others to laugh, cry or think. She is passionate about her efforts to live life fully and push her comfort zone, which is why she spills her guts to you and she hopes you’ll still love her.
Image via healthguidance.org