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When did commitment become a bad thing?

Young male playing video game photograph by ImageryMajestic

Young people today value freedom over commitment. There is a narrative that runs along the American dream that says in order to be happy, you need to have complete independence and not be tied down to anything or anyone. But that is a gross misunderstanding of what it means to experience contentment. Most of the people who have the least responsibilities suffer with the most yearnings and desires.

Freedom does not mean freedom from commitment altogether; it means having the freedom to commit to that which you choose. When you spend your whole life running away from being bogged down, you inevitably end up living a life lacking meaning. You live a life absent passion, depth, and caring.

While this trend of avoidance is commonplace amongst all generational lines, it is particularly pronounced in Millennials. Young people commonly avoid choosing a mate, career, or even a major until they absolutely must. As a result, these individuals end up living a shallow life chasing after only fleeting joys. After all, they intentionally don’t want anything that lasts. Things that stick around require an effort to maintain. Stability means accountability and that is a frightening thought to many. It’s easy to run away, and reinvent, in the prime of social networking. People are more replaceable. And we are more mobile.

Funny as it may seem, when it comes to work and relationships, the more sacrifices you make, the more pleasure they bring. Most people are not programmed to derive fulfillment out of a gypsy-like existence. Always being prepared to run, leads to anxiety and chaos. Choosing what you love and pursuing it is the only way to obtain the depth in life it takes to feel fulfillment. Making decisions and sticking to them enables you to grow emotionally, spiritually, and financially.

When you have the time to pursue your desires, you begin to realize that the harder you seek joy, the more distant it becomes to reach. You can only experience contentment when you are not actively seeking it. Joy comes as a surprise, and an attitude, it cannot be reached as a destination. Give yourself to your family, your projects, and your hobbies and in turn, happiness will come. That is the irony of freedom; it can only be reached by giving in to commitments. Through accepting stillness and effort can you actually progress and grow.

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