There are various odors of disquieting provenance in this room. I suspect they might come from under the ping pong table in the kitchen, just past the precarious skyline of empty Sprite bottles. Our quaint, slightly cramped five bedroom home has taken on some sort of hybridized character between a heroin den and U-boat.
To me, all of this is the sign of active minds. Einstein, Freud, Lincoln were all great men who drew inspiration from chaos in their environments. Heck, even without Andrew Flemming’s reluctance to wash his Petri-dishes the world wouldn’t have Penicillin.
But mess and chaos are socially unacceptable. Every time someone comes over, I find myself wrestling with garbage bags and plugging overfilled closet doors shut with books on Minimalism. I have many joys, many hobbies, but socializing isn’t one of them. And each time that I do socialize … I discover why that is. Unlike extroverts, the amount of happiness and return of investment I receive from the experience is outbalanced by the expense of energy and time it costs me.
Return of Investment
Basically, whenever I need to make a decision, I try to work out what my return of investment is. For instance; I’m investing *this* amount of time and *this* amount of my energy, but what will I receive in return? If you think about it, everyone thinks in these terms. For instance, the extrovert’s return of investment is feeling energized by socializing. Emotional people receive emotional gratification, like the feelings of connection and being understood.
Introverts, unlike Extroverts, begin any relationship with more to lose (I’m talking about energy in particular). There are also many commitments that come with any new friendship for introverts, such as: keeping your house to a certain standard of cleanliness, maintaining regular contact via the internet/phone/text message, attending yearly events like birthdays and dreadful “hang outs” or “catch up’s”.
To those that receive enough return of investment, that’s terrific, congratulations for your savvy mental financing. But to the rest of us it’s a voluntary enslavery wherein the chain is a mental obligation that slowly consumes us in different ways. In essence: it steals the freedom to do what we truly want.
Commitments Affect Every Aspect Of Life
Commitments take more than your time though, they quietly invade your conscious mind.
Commitments don’t just deal with people however. The worst kind of commitments are those that you aren’t even aware of actually being commitments. These can come as small promises you make to yourself, such as improving in a certain area of life.
Almost always, these become a weight on your conscious mind saying that something has been left unresolved. These every day commitments also begin to affect your emotions. Remember the times when you promised to yourself that you’d achieve a lot, and you didn’t? Your self-worth instantly lowered a notch.
The thing is, our minds never find solace from their to-do lists. They always need to be resolved and if not, it’s as though we’re carrying a dark mass of tension around with us that we always know it there. There’s an emotional commitment on some level that we’re not fully dealing with.
You can never truly become aware of how much mental and emotional space a commitment takes up in your mind until it’s not there anymore. Just think of the relief you feel when you finish a dry book you found extremely hard to read. I realized this a few years ago when I continued to write for a blog that I no longer had any passion for. The day I decided to stop, my mind lightened, feeling free from the painful dutiful mental leech I was carrying.
The closest I can illustrate the experience of being free from burdensome commitment, was the day I was trying to study and my brother kept playing music in the background. After a while my mind had compensated for the sound, basically, I wasn’t listening to it but I was still hearing it. It’s only when he turned it off that I suddenly felt this distinct sensation of increased focus and peacefulness.
Be A Quitter!
Quitting commitments is getting the maximum quality of life, without wasting energy on promises you can’t keep. It forced me to re-evaluate every commitment I have in life, and to choose whether I’m completely willing to deal with them or want to be completely free from them.
Society has taught us that “quitting” is wrong. That only losers quit. But the problem with this concept is that not all quitting is the same. You can quit things that matter, and quit things that don’t. We assume that all commitments are: A) Of equal value and, B) That we never outgrow them.
Less Is More
The more commitments on your to-do list, the more paralyzed and afraid you are of attempting to fulfill any one of them. Without apology or explanation make a decision to be done with them. The leech won’t stop sucking on your conscious until you burn it.
As I mentioned in a previous article on technology and disconnection, multi-tasking and commitments only results in many half-hearted attempts of living life. The neglect of these commitments can take a toll on your self-confidence as well. But with a bit more patience and a lot more selectivity, you can dedicate yourself to more rewarding and meaningful pursuits.
That’s why I’m not your social type. I don’t like to lukewarmly bond with a person over similar interests and common ground, in order to have a relationship of stimulation. If I put my commitment to use I make it my concern to explore the depths and roots of a person, not just the shallow leaves of stimulation that are so temporary with season.
True relationships for the solitary person take undivided commitment, and in a sense, these relationships are a lot more profound and long-lasting.