“Oh, I don’t do commitment”. I’ve heard this phrase said by 20-somethings with conviction and pride. Not that this attitude is unusual for coming-of-age adults, but one thing baffles me: this fervor for non-commitment is also accompanied with a desire for greatness.
I’m not talking about marriage, although usually I hear the bemoaning of commitment in context of relationships: “I don’t think I’ll ever settle down, I enjoy the single life too much.” “I’m not really a ‘commitment’ kind of person.” This attitude is understandable, and not necessarily bad as young Millennials are still trying you figure out who they are, and what they want. But an ongoing lack of commitment has broad implications.
A few examples I’ve seen of commitaphobia: A 20-something who has expensive plans to travel doesn’t have plans to find a job. A college Senior who has no intention (at all) of going into the line of work they have studied. A post-College grad who quits every job he has that isn’t fulfilling. If Millennials fancy themselves a generation of achievers, than they need to learn how to be dedicated. Commitment is essential in achieving anything worth while.
Commitment is part of growing up. Honestly, I cringe a bit when I hear young people bash commitment, because I recognize that attitude in myself around 20 years old. The smug rejection of commitment is actually a child who expects things to work out for them. Way to enforce Millennial stereotypes of being spoiled, smug and naïve. Life happens. Loans, relationships, bills, kids, career. If you don’t do commitment, it will find a way of doing you.
Commitment innately involves risk, which may be what is holding Millennials back: they want the pay off of commitment without personal risk or investment. I hope Millennials discover the great irony is that to be true to yourself, you need to be committed to something outside of yourself. Commitment is not restricting, but actually expanding yourself.
When Millennials learn this they’ll be more willing to take the plunge and commit to finishing school, sticking with a job, paying off a loan, learning a new skill, maybe even a relationship. Make it something you care about, and it will be worth it. Actually, I can’t guarantee that it will be worth it. You will have to take a risk and find out for yourself. It’s much more rewarding (and exciting) than commitaphobia.
I love this post. I hear all the time from people how being in a relationship and living with that person isn’t a good idea because we’re so young and it’s a huge commitment. I have to disagree. Sure, compared to others, I’m still young. I still have learning and growing to do. But I committed to a four year education (and paying for that education), I’m going to commit to a job (and thus to a city)… so I can commit to a huge amount of debt and a new city, but I can’t commit to another person? It’s a little silly.
Love the post. People should grow up, take risks, and accept responsibility.
Right, it’s scary accepting responsibility, but accepting it is better than avoiding. Actually, it’s not possible to completely avoid responsibility. Thanks for the feed back, I’m glad you liked the post. 🙂
I’m glad you wrote about this. I’ve always thought that being afraid of commitment is equivalent to being afraid to grow. Commitaphobia sometimes manifests in complaining about life without the willingness to make a change.
Absolutely. Fear of commitment seems to contradict a lot of other Millennial attributes. I hope I communicated in this post that, of course, commitment shouldn’t be taken lightly. But no commitment at all is never beneficial.
This observation couldn’t be more accurate: this fervor for non-commitment is also accompanied with a desire for greatness.
But, to offer another perspective, do you think part of the lack of willing to commit comes from an instinct to not accept mediocrity? Like you, I’m on the early part of the millenial wave. After college, when it was time to get a job, I took a sales job that wasn’t challenging o related to my major. It was, however, a means to an end – an end of not having any money, not having my own place and not having insurance. I was happy with doing something mundane for the time, but knew it wasn’t a permanent situation. I lasted 2 years.
On the other hand, I’ve also had friends who have passed on multiple job offers because they want to immediately be placed in a situation that puts them on the path to greatness. For some, it’s been joining a small start-up and for others it’s been joining a Fortune 500 where they can carve out a new niche at an established company. Both, however, share that desire for greatness and would not settle for something they thought would have no mental or fiscal reward for them.
I totally agree about Millennnials not accepting mediocrity. I was thinking I may need to expand on this topic with another post. I actually am not one to talk because I have had 4 jobs in the last 5 years. The part-time job I have now provides creativity, vision, and room for change and growth, AND real relationships with my colleagues. It’s only 10 hours, but I love it. I had a full-time job 3 years ago, that I couldn’t take it anymore. It was a kind of job where I would rather pay them to not show up, so I quit eventually. BUT I did hang in there with the job I hated for 3 years, and managed to learn a lot. The attitude I’m trying to address is exactly what you mentioned: fervor for non-commitment with a desire for greatness. My desire for greatness (or at least not mediocre) led me to quit my other job(s), not a lack of commitment. I think the ‘first-waves’ are starting to get the commitment thing though. In time, I think commitment may be a Millennial trait, once they understand it’s necessary, and find the right things to commit to.
Well imo.. marriage is an old fashioned, outdated concept, if you truly love someone you can just live together, until you get tired of each other and move on to other things without any obligations or a piece of document binding the two of you together, to get married is easy, to get a divorce not so much…