Commitment and I have a very complicated relationship. We fight a lot and often don’t see eye to eye, because I’m stubborn and don’t like to be told what to do and well, commitment by its nature does just that. Unfortunately, commitment is something that affects every aspect of my life in various different ways and it is a fear that I (and multiple therapists) have been working on confronting for some time now.
For me, commitment is terrifying for a whole host of reasons. It means being vulnerable to failure. To getting things wrong. To letting people down. To letting myself down. I’m so afraid of failing that I struggle to commit in the first place. It’s easier to tell myself I’m no good than face the risk of other people doing it later.
In the anxious mind commitment sets you up for a lot of ‘what if’ questions. What if I’m actually no good at playing the guitar? What if I fall over in front of everyone at pilates and get laughed at? What if I post all my fears on the internet and it makes me look like an absolute loon?
What if, what if, what if.
What if I can’t achieve all the things I’ve wanted since I was small?
What if I don’t ever recover from being depressed?
What if my heart gets broken?
It starts with the little things and before you know it you’ve become a spinster, living alone in an endless cycle of depression because she gave up on her life dreams and is struggling to feed her 17 cats. The truth is, you can’t guarantee that these things aren’t going to happen*. It would be daft to solider on blind and unprepared, pretending everything is going to turn out OK because sometimes, it just doesn’t. However, sometimes it does turn out OK. More than OK, actually.
*(Though it’s very likely that I exaggerated a little. Or a lot. Seriously though if you’ve never considered becoming a crazy cat lady, you’re just lying to yourself)
Life and people and relationships and feelings and just the world in general are all very unpredictable and the thing is, we don’t know what’s going to happen next. I mean, what if I get hit by a bus tomorrow? (Read the link, it’s one of my favourite things I’ve read on the internet) What if this is my last day on planet earth and all I did was sit here too scared to do anything for fear of doing it wrong? By default, that rules out any chance of success.
Funnily enough for me, it was the big things that I had to confront first. I had to start by dropping out of university to seek help to recover. I had to attend a job interview. I had to commit to going to therapy. I had to admit how I felt about someone. I had to challenge myself on the big things because they’re the ones that are hard to get out of; you can’t exactly take back dropping out of university or unsay how you feel. I had to create situations for myself that I couldn’t escape easily, because that’s the only way to move forward with fear and confront it.
Not surprisingly, not everything goes the way you want it to. But I can say that the last few months have been some of amazing transformation. Three weeks ago, my therapist told me I was ‘stable’ for the first time in three and a half years. I LOVE my job and my work colleagues. In two weeks, I’ll be starting back at uni part time. And the feelings? Well, you can’t win them all, but I’m doing just fine.
So it’s all pretty exciting/terrifying/overwhelming at the moment but I’m learning to deal with things as they come. The best part is, now I’ve confronted all the big, scary stuff, all the little things like guitar lessons or a writing challenge just don’t seem as intimidating any more.