[Photo: The desk and creative station of a tattoo artist I met on Sunday]
The word prompts have [to me] been lacking in inspiration or interest recently. There have been a mixture of words, some of which I’ve had to look up, and others I’ve sat and stared at, wondering how the hell I would form a beefy, meaty blog post out of it. I was thinking about this in the shower this morning, after 15 minutes of trying [and finally getting] my hot water to kick in, my brain was all over the place, and I kept coming back to one word. One word that instils fear and dread into most people my age or of my generation…
C O M M I T M E N T
The fact that I’ve been toying with the idea of sitting down and writing about this, because it’ll take a while and I’m not 100% sure where it’ll end up, is just one example of the commitment phobes my generation of become. When most people think of commitment or people who are afraid of commitment, it usually refers to relationships and taking them to the next level. This isn’t what I want to focus this post solely on, but it’s a big enough factor that I can’t really ignore it.
“So is he your boyfriend?” “Are you two going out now then?” “Is she officially your girlfriend?”
Nowadays, these questions pose BIG worries to the ones stood there expected to answer. Before any kind of solid answer can be given, an even bigger and scarier conversation has to be had between the two significant people. The stages of getting a boyfriend/girlfriend used to be so simple:
- You know of the person
- You fancy the person
- You speak more to the person
- Maybe you flirt with the person
- You hang out one-on-one with the person
- You ask each other out
- You/they say yes
- BAM you’re in a relationship and you could answer those three questions above with a solid yes.
These days though, there are about 10 missing steps [and that’s cutting out a lot] to getting to the official boyfriend/girlfriend status. Status. Double meaning here as it also refers to Facebook Official, which, as anyone from my generation knows, that’s when things have got serious, that’s when a commitment had been made. Even when I was in high school, good old Emrys, your friends, or anyone else for that matter, didn’t believe it or count your “relationship” as real, until you made the tie on the social media platform that has sucked our souls and drained out time; Facebook. How stupid is that?! How pathetic does that make us?! I remember earlier this year, one of my best friends went “Facebook Official” with a guy she was “seeing”, and it was the biggest news ever! Yeah, so what if she’d been dating him, seeing him, spending a lot of time with him, met his family, introduced him to us etc etc etc… It wasn’t classed as a “real relationship” until I had that notification pop up on my phone: “blahblah has just changed their relationship status to in a relationship with so-and-so.”
I can’t decide whether I like or don’t like how relationships form/don’t form now-a-days. I mean, it’s been a long time since I was in a solid relationship, or anything that even counts on the scale of “relationships.” I went on a few dates with a guy way back in January/February 2015, but I don’t even think that counted as actually “dating” someone. We went for a few drinks, a couple of times we met for food, we had takeaway and went to the pub, we even went on a walk and I met his dog. But, by modern-day standards, that’s nothing. That kind of level is still at the stage of: “we’re just seeing how it’s going, we’ve not discussed anything, it’s nothing serious, he might be seeing other people, we both still have Tinder.”
I think there are two main reasons people fear or don’t like commitment. First and foremost, its plain old fear. Fear of making the commitment, and there being a 50% chance it won’t work out. “You’re either going to marry this person, or you’re not.” This quote has made its rounds on social media and I think it terrifies people. Making a commitment in a relationship means you’re in for a bigger fall if something happens. If you make that all important step to become Facebook Official and it doesn’t work out, you’ve then got to change your relationship status on Facebook for everyone to see; “Blahblah has changed their relationship status to Single”. And there is nothing more miserable than having to do that. I remember the end of my first relationship, teenage me thought that clicking that “single” button from the drop down menu and “sharing” it with all my Facebook friends was the most miserable and awful thing, a proper kick-me-when-I’m-down kind of moment. We’re so concerned about how others perceive us and what others will say or think that we let it jeopardise our happiness. I had a friend who was recently messed around by someone they were “dating”. They’d changed their FB profile picture to a picture of the two of them, all happy and smiling, because they were excited about the idea of a relationship with this other person. Then, after when it didn’t work out, one of the first things they said to me was, “Shit, and I made the picture of the two of us my profile picture too. I look like such an idiot.” It was a bold step, and even a kind of commitment to that other person in the picture, making the picture of them their profile picture, but because it sadly didn’t work out, the commitment was broken.
I think we fear commitment because we want to protect ourselves and save us from humiliation and emotional harm. If we never/take a seriously long time to commit, then there is no/less chance of us having it thrown in our faces. There’s such a grey area between Dating someone, Seeing someone, making it exclusive, and then FINALLY going out with someone and forming a relationship. It seems [on my Facebook at least] that more people are popping out babies than making a lasting commitment in a relationship these days! But, that’s another topic I feel I have no right or place to comment, so we’ll move swiftly onto Reason Two, of why people are don’t like commitment.
This is a quote from an article I read that I thought should be shared here as a quick side note:
Millennials. Are we a generation with commitment phobia? We rent our dresses, share our cars, and download our movies illegally so we can view it just the one time. Even our music, through applications like Spotify, is accessible without the commitment of actually owning our favorite artist’s music.
People my age and generation want an easy life. No one want’s to have to slave away in education, to slave away in work, to continue this cycle for the rest of their lives. So many people are afraid to commit to one area of work that they end up floating around for years picking up odd jobs here and there, testing the waters in different fields. We say this makes us more experiences and well-rounded individuals, but realistically, we’re just a bunch of people who can’t make a decision in life and aren’t willing to commit to anything until we know that it’s going to last and be worth it. I’m guilty of this myelf. When the opportunity came for me to apply to be a Clinical/Medical Photographer earlier this year, it freaked me the f*ck out, it honestly did. It was a position I’d dreamt of and was aiming for as a goal in my life, but, to start that path at only the age of 22/23? That terrified me. I would have been making a commitment to start my “dream job” and what I’d hoped would be my real life career, in September 2016. What an absolutely incredible opportunity, but also, what a waste?! Now, I can only say all this because I didn’t get the job, if I was in it now I’d be ecstatic (and probably very tired, stressed and poor) and not complaining about this kind of thing at all. I’d keep my mouth shut and count my lucky starts I’d been given that rare chance. But, as I said, I didn’t get the job, so I can bitch and moan all I like! Even as I sit here now, during my lunch in Class 512, can’t imagine staying somewhere longer than one year. Not even two, just one?! Let’s look at my work life so far: I worked at Tempest for 12 months. I worked at Dulwich for one academic year. And I’ll probably be here at CGS/with Worlda for only one academic year as well. That’s three jobs, in three years. At this stage, my most lasting job was McDonald’s! How tragic is that?! I mean, I have left these jobs all through my own choice, to peruse different and further experiences, but still, on my CV everything is one year only, apart from Maccies, which lasted 3 and a half years (one year longer than my most lasting relationship). Anyway, this wasn’t supposed to be a post about relationships, past or present, because, as I’ve said, my experience in this area is very limited.
People are afraid of and want to avoid getting bored. Even if it’s not certain that they will get bored, they don’t want to take that risk. They like to have the freedom to change their minds, to keep things interesting, to not commit. This even goes for the travellers out there. Some people plan their travels to the last details; flights, hostels, trains, luggage, visas, money etc. Others like to book that first flight that lets them escape their tiresome daily routine and then the rest is a mystery, a decision to be made at a later date.
This is going a bit zig-zagged right now, another realisation just popped into my pea sized head. I would never have said I’m afraid of commitment. It’s just not something I’d associate with myself. But the more I type, the more I realise, maybe I don’t’ have a fear of it, I just have a slight disliking towards it. I went to get some meat out the freezer this morning to have with my standard meal of veg and noodles this evening. But I stopped myself. What if I get home and don’t fancy noodles veg and meat? What if I want an egg sandwich, or dumplings? I wasn’t mentally prepared to make that commitment to my evening meal at 7.15am this morning. Is that a slight fear of commitment, or just being practical? Who knows… I feel like I’ve lost my train of thought here and have wandered off away from the point I was trying to make.
I guess I wanted to write about this word for many reasons. Some of which I’ve mentioned above, and another reason is I feel like I have to soon make some form of commitment to my future 12 months. I think I’ve come to the decision that this is my last year living and working in China. So that’s a start. I don’t want to leave China because I’m bored of it, or I hate it or anything like that. I just feel ready to move on to somewhere new (or old), and also, if I stay for a 3rd year I feel like I should really have made some kind of effort with the language, so I’m also leaving for selfish lazy reasons! Again, I can’t be bothered to commit to learning the language if I know I’m not staying here much longer. I’ve still got about 7 months left, so I’ve got bags of time to make any big decisions and commitments about where I want to go or what I want to do. But, it can’t hurt to think about what my options could be. Obviously, one option is to move back to the UK and start my “real life”, doing who knows what. But, honestly, that doesn’t scream appeal to me, just yet anyway.
Me and Alice are on the same page, where we’re putting off starting our “grown-up real life” for as long as possible by living a semi/full international life. We’ve had many discussions as to what age/what point do we have to stop and make an official life for ourselves? Hannah on the other hand is one of the most committed people I know, she’s been in Education for almost 20 years now (give or take). She’s spent the last 8 years with one goal in mind; her dream job in the field of Psychology. She’s now on her 6th year at Bangor University, still perusing and kicking the ass of that dream. I doubt I’ll ever meet anyone else with that level of determination, hard work or commitment. Sophie, my littlest but one of the best friends I could ever ask for recently made a pretty big commitment. She’s started her PGCE, after two years of working in the labs. The biggest commitment I’ve made recently is…. My god I can’t even think of one commitment I’ve made in the past few weeks. Maybe starting a book I once tried to get into but couldn’t? I’ve committed myself to getting through it this time and trooping on. Does that count? Probably not. My bloody sister though… well she’s been making HUGE life decisions left right and centre since my departure in August! Deposit on a house, getting engaged, moving into said house, anything else you want to do when I’m away sis?! I mean, you turn 27 today, but aging isn’t really a commitment we can alter or stop, so I’ll let you off for that one.
[Side note here, referring back to the photograph at the top of this post. Isn’t it funny how the only commitment my generation seem to have embraced and run with, is tattoos. Tattoos are a huge lifelong commitment that can’t be taken back unless you go through some very expensive and painful treatments. But, we as a generation, have fallen in love with them and plastered them all over our bodies. I quite like that the only commitment that most of us have made is to do with decorating ourselves with wonderful, sometimes crappy, art that’s embedded in our skin.]
Engagements, houses, secure jobs… these are things I struggle to see in my future. I’m sure they’re there somewhere, but they’re a long way off, and I’m proud to say that I’m fine with that. Like I said, I’m from a generation who isn’t afraid to be afraid of commitment. We stand united in this notion, and it makes us feel better knowing that we aren’t alone. We aren’t the only ones who haven’t figured out our lives yet. There are other people who have no 5 year plan. Millions of others have no idea where their life will end up or what they need to do to get to the next stage. Our generation has decided that that’s exactly what your 20’s, and even early 30’s is for. It’s the time that it’s ok, and even encouraged, to be a little lost, a little confused, and most of all, noncommittal. Take a different job each year. Go to a different country as often as you can. Say no to the monotonous soul sucking daily routine of a life you hate.
To finish off here, I’ll leave you with the famous speech [swearing and all I’m afraid] from Trainspotting.Trainspotting is also the book I’ve given a second chance, and committed myself to finishing, so what better way to wrap it all up…
Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television, Choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players, and electrical tin can openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol and dental insurance. Choose fixed-interest mortgage repayments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends. Choose leisure wear and matching luggage. Choose a three piece suite on hire purchase in a range of fucking fabrics. Choose DIY and wondering who the fuck you are on a Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing fucking junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pishing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fucked-up brats you have spawned to replace yourself. Choose your future. Choose life . . . But why would I want to do a thing like that? I chose not to choose life: I chose something else. And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you've got [heroin]?