When I type the word “commitment” into Google, there are two definitions that encapsulate the word in my eyes.
The first definition describes commitment as “the state or quality of being dedicated to a cause, activity, etc.” I like that one. The act of being dedicated implies almost an emotional motivation to whatever it is you’re committing to. Being dedicated implies being all in to your commitment with 100% certainty. It simply makes sense.
It’s the second definition that bothers me. It also happens to be the one I tend mostly to assign to the word “commitment” in my head.
“An engagement or obligation that restricts freedom of action.”
While I would love to relate to the optimistic first definition provided, the second definition always seems to ring true when the topic of commitment comes around. Since my late teenage years, I have hardly ever find myself committed to anything due to my own inability to throw all my cards into any basket. I made my decision to come to UCSB a week before the deadline, primarily because of the comfort of my undeclared major status. A year and a half later, I tried to transfer. I can never seem to get over the idea that a better option is somewhere out there, waiting for me to find it.
This is not going to be some sob story from some kid who can’t commit to relationships or uses it as an excuse not to take responsibility for actions in his life. No one wants to hear that and it’s overplayed. While certain people from my past can certainly attest to my lack of relational commitment (which I openly admit), my problem simply doesn’t lie in friendships or romantic relationships, it’s a deeper-rooted issue.
Let’s start on the simplest and least high-stakes of terms. I hate making decisions. Any kind of decision.
“Where do you want to eat?”
“What do you want to do tonight?”
“What major are you applying as?”
A little twinge of anxiety comes up at every question poking at my wants and needs. What do I really want to do? What if I make the wrong decision? What if this wrong decision causes me to miss out on a great opportunity in my life? What if I let people down by picking the wrong restaurant or activity? I simply don’t want the responsibility.
I overthink the most inconsequential things and when the important crossroads in life start to roll around I become a deer in headlights.
When people are asked about their greatest fears, you get a lot of the typical answers: spiders, heights, needles, fire, etc. My greatest fear was waking up one day down the road and realizing I wasted my whole life following a path that was simply not the right fit. I just turned 21 years old, yet somehow I am trembling in fear of my impending midlife crisis in 20 years, therefore creating my own little quarter life crisis of sorts.
“What do you want to do after college?
God, I fucking hate that question.
My mind never fails to scroll through all the unknowns lying in my future. My future job, future family, my future life. All these things are going to be influenced by decisions I make now, and I’m terrified of fucking it up.
It wasn’t hard to realize that this mindset I held regarding my future was getting in the way of my own life. This anxiety that builds through these worst-case scenarios I built in my head were keeping me from the exact things I wanted for my life. I was pushing away relationships at the sign of any tinge of uncertainty. I was letting opportunities pass due to the fear I would regret it later. Overall, I was just scared to dive into life itself, and instead I was choosing to play it safe. As time went on, I spent more and more time in the safe borders of my room. And as time went on, I was growing unhappier by the minute. All this time, I was shaken at the idea of wasting my life’s opportunities. Yet, here I was doing that exact thing. I was in a Grade A funk.
In other words, spend less time thinking and more time adopting a “Fuck it, why not?” attitude.
One day in late 2017, as I wallowed in my room, I came across an old video of my high school graduation sent by one of my good friends from home. Not trying to flex or anything, but during that graduation, my cheesy, optimistic senior self gave a speech where I told my graduating class behind me that “Failure is a part of life. Never let the fear of failure stop you from doing what you want to do. Take risks, expand your comfort zone, then step out of that comfort zone. You are the sole person in charge of the mark you make on the world. Make it great.”
What a little nerd, I know.
Despite the cliche advice, I couldn’t help thinking how disappointed my past self would be with my present mindset. Sure, things are much easier said than done, but my anxiety for committing to anything was making my life pass by me. Here I was, one and a half years done through college with nothing to show for it but some good grades. No one was going to help me and provide me with the path I’m supposed to follow. I needed to find it, and for that to happen, something needed to change.
This realization was one and a half years ago. There are some things I need to work out but I can definitely say I’m in a better place. I had never made a New Year’s Resolution in my life, but in 2018, my sole personal resolution was to “commit” to more spontaneity in my life. In other words, spend less time thinking and more time adopting a “Fuck it, why not?” attitude.
I mean the mantra ain’t perfect. It’s a little reckless. It’s gotten me into some odd situations and certainly into a little bit of trouble. Yet, I’m glad I flipped this switch in my head. This mantra is the reason I even walked into a Daily Nexus meeting last year. Most of the good things in my life right now are because I made this mental transition.
I’m still not “fixed” (not that I was necessarily broken) or molded into the person I strive to be yet. That’s not how the human experience works. I still get a lump in my throat thinking about my future and where I’m going to end up. I still get anxious. Frankly, I still get a little scared.
But for the first time in a long time, I’m not waking up sad, but slightly excited at the unknowns that lie in my day. Nothing in life is presented to you on a red carpet. If I live scared to take risks, I’m going to regret doing nothing at all. After a lot of reflection, I realized that despite what my anxieties have been telling me, growing up and playing it safe is not what I want out of life.
Hey, if I do fuck it all up, I’m going to be pretty pissed at myself if I didn’t give it 100%.
Kian Karamdashti is just trying to avoid that Grade A funk.