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Ep #51

Commitment Issues

After 12 and a half years, I have finally decided to call Austin my home. There are lots of reasons why I didn’t commit until now, reasons that I’m sure some of you can relate to. And once I made the decision to commit, I experienced something totally unexpected.

Renegades, what would happen if you decided to go all in on that thing you’ve been second guessing? That person, that job, that dream or hobby. What if you stopped feeling overwhelmed by options and the idea of the next best upgrade, and instead felt stable?

In today’s episode, I’m diving into why so many of us have commitment issues and why we’d rather live with those issues than find a solution. Society supports our commitment issues, so why shouldn’t we? I’m exploring what it means to commit and some ways that you can choose with intention what you want to commit to.

What You Will Discover:

  • Why it has taken me over 12 years to finally call Austin my home.
  • Why the idea of commitment seems so intimidating.
  • The 2 consumer behavior models that support our commitment issues.
  • Some questions you can ask yourself to inquire, seek, and reveal.
  • How society supports feeling overwhelmed.

Resources Mentioned:

Enjoy the Show?

Renegades,

You know what I decided on recently? After 12.5 years? To call Austin home. Now, I’m not sure if there is some technical amount of time in which one gets to claim such a title or how you even earn it without being born someone where - like, I wouldn’t call myself an Austinite. I believe that title is reserved for those of you who were born here. I’d like to officially give you that and recognize my place here BUT, I am publicizing and stating for the record that Austin is my home. It only took 12.5 years for me to decide.

I’ve could never surrender to this idea that Austin was home. When people ask me where I’m from I always hesitate… I’m from North Dakota but lived in Arizona, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico back to Colorado back to NM back to Arizona back to Colorado then back to New Mexico then Washington then Hawaii.
Aside from the time I ran away from home at 17 and got legally emancipated from my parents and went back to New Mexico to graduate high school, Hawaii was the first place I really chose. I can’t really claim choosing Washington as I was there on holiday and was asked to stay and get married over drinks and do a lot of drugs and almost die. I mean, I said yes to all of it, but there wasn’t anything conscious about that choice. The most conscious choice I made in Seattle was to leave and get a one-way ticket to Hawaii. Somewhere I’d never been. Only knew one person. With a plan to find my way in this world … I was 19.

My choice to go to Hawaii was to not only save myself but find myself. I remember flying over on Delta with my one-way ticket that cost 440$ … orange hair, a lip ring and tongue ring, covered in a giant hoodie with 2 suitcases that held my life. There was a man on the plane who wouldn’t stop talking to me and not in the creepy way, but out of total curiosity. But at 19 I don’t think you think anyone is creepy. If you were me at that time, I was happy someone wanted to talk to me. Now I think anyone who talks to me that doesn’t know me is creepy.
But this conversation went on for 5 hours Renegades. I couldn’t quite figure out why, but when we landed and grabbed our overhead bags, he said, I know this is going to sound really strange, but can I take your picture. It’s just that I’ve never seen anyone like you come here. I looked around and saw family’s, floral printed shirts, children smiling from ear to ear, retired people. He was right… not a single person looked like they had just landed in the middle of the ocean with no clue as to where they were going and what would be in front of them. They knew what hotel. What beach. Or their home address.

In that moment, it occurred to me that the one person I did know - my uncle- told me his girlfriend was picking me up. Renegades, we didn’t have cell phones, social media, email… He had no pictures of me. I had no pictures of him, let alone his girlfriend who I was supposed to find.

I was the only person on that plane who had no idea what she was doing or where she was going or how she would find her way.

Needless to say, some stranger took my picture. I wish I could see it. That 19-year-old face. Hot damn…what a brave little bizzle she was. She saved our life when she purchased that one-way ticket to Hawaii.

It would be one year and 3 months later when I would give birth to my first child. I got married there. I had my second child there. I found my love hate for running. We built homes. A community. I divorced there. Scattered his ashes there.
My ten years on Maui. It was a circle of life moment. I truly believed that not only did Maui save me, but it revealed to me who I was for the first time. My instinct to call Hawaii home is from a place deep in my soul. I was called there and in many ways was birthed there.

But 2 things happened when my kids’ dad died 1. I felt like I was in a fishbowl. I was that person at the grocery store casually grabbing eggs and felt like everyone was looking at me. You know those concerned looks that you think you’re giving that actually come off oddly, like is she okay? Did you hear? Can you imagine. It looks judgey. It’s a little condensing. Here, let me get that for you. You shouldn’t do that… your children’s father died. Just go sit down…

Look, it’s possible it was all in my head, but it was a small island and I suddenly felt defined by our most recent circumstances.
2. I wanted to show my kids a life that wasn’t just about the beach. I wanted to be able to afford to travel and not just back home to small towns USA to visit family.
And so we chose Austin. I say we because I was dating the man who would then become my second husband and spoiler alert second divorce, but that’s later and everybody knows.

I looked at many places, but Austin had so much promise. Great school systems. Affordable. A college town with opportunities. Community. Music. Things to do. Recreation was high on the list and lastly, water. We believed that if we were leaving our ocean views behind, we needed some body of water. And my favorite reason of all? No one knew us or our story. We could just start over. Be anyone but that. Talk about anything else.

I made a commitment when I moved here; I would stay long enough to raise my kids. Then I would decide where I was going after that. My plan had never been to stay.

When we traveled, I would not only visit whatever town or city I was in, but I would consider it. I’d look and imagine me living there. What my life could be like… Would this be where I started the next chapter of my life?

Renegades, I had this constant side eye. You know when you’re in a relationship and it’s good and you love them but you’ve been in it for a while…and you know their great, but you know someone else might be better? I know this sounds awful but just stay with me… You love this person. Their your best friend, but you don’t feel like they get you anymore. They don’t get you in the feels. You find yourself, you know, considering in your mind not actions what it might be like to be with that person. And you create this entire fantasy based off nothing to do with anyone or anything. This is my relationship with Austin. Look, I’m not saying I cheated, but YES. I’ve thought about it a dozen fucking times.

When I would travel, I could easily become convinced that wherever I was, is where I need to be.
I’ll roll into Colorado and immediately as I breathe in the cool rocky mountain air, I would think, Colorado gets me. Sunny 300 days a year. Option to ski on the weekends. Mountain bike and hike. Those mountains. Austin doesn’t have mountains. Austin doesn’t understand that I need cool air and mountains.

Or New York. Running in New York is exhilarating and inspiring and dirty and fast and always feels new even when it’s the same out and back from Brooklyn to the Hudson. New York totally gets me.

Constant fantasizing about what my life be like if I this was my neighborhood. These were the streets I ran in. The people I saw. The air I breathed. The daily view.

And then I’d come back to Austin and be like, well, this isn’t so bad. Without fail when I’m driving over the bridge and I see the city lights and town lake I’d think, those other places are amazing, but they don’t have town lake.
And Austin is been a great place to raise kids. I’d remember just how good Austin has been to me and think: This will work, for now.

Fast forward to this last year as I’m preparing for the kids to both be out of the house in the fall of 2021 assuming COVID-19 allows for it, my thoughts have literally been focused on finding the next place I’ll plant my roots. A place I can call home.

Until last month. I was doing my usual lap around the lake and I saw a familiar face and we waved. Noticed my favorite guy on his bench- the bench he’s been on for at least 10 of the years I’ve been here, and something hit me. Austin revealed to me something it had to offer to me that no other place can in this current moment, Community. I felt a warmth in my body. Austin, after all these years? I embraced this idea for a moment and found myself overwhelmed with thoughts about raising my kids here. When they are out people recognize them and vice versa. That this was their home. That I made a home for us here. And while I was focused on all the things Austin offered that I wasn’t interested in, I lost focus on all the things it did offer that light me up. Like town lake. That place is my church. Rowing. I’ve wanted to try this sculling thing for 10 years. What am I waiting for? The music and festivals? There is always something fun going on. The food. The parks. The people. I thought,
Am I fucking crazy? Austin has everything I’ve ever wanted and needed.
Austin is home. My roots are planted here. Quite deeply too.

And just like that, I committed to being all in on Austin.

Austin knows I can get a little lusty when I travel. Austin is also secure and confident enough to know that I’ll always come home. Austin DOES get me. You might be thinking Austin deserves better, but Austin knows that when I’m in. I’m all fucking in. And Austin always knew it had me. It was just waiting for me to wake up and see what was in front of me.

Renegades, when you have a side eye you can’t fully embrace and see what is in front of you. You are here, but your mind is anywhere but. And you miss out on the full experience- good and bad that comes with the human experience and commitment.

When you focus your thoughts on what’s good and great about your circumstances you start to see it, feel it and embody it. Positive begets more positive. Negative begets more negative.

This idea of commitment, or the action of it, seems to be really intimidating and elusive.

I think about commitment as it pertains to dating, work or goal setting often. The more I think about it the more I can’t help but think about 2 consumer behavior models.

Did you now that Costco did an entire study on consumer behavior and found that if you offer too many of the same product that the customer will get overwhelmed and walk away without making a purchase? They won’t commit. Next time you are there check it out, Kirkland brand, name brand and then probably an organic brand.

They’ve built their entire sales model on it. And it’s not a coincidence.

Then there is the iPhone mindset. We love our iPhone, but as soon as the new one comes out, regardless of how well the one we currently have works we want to upgrade. The camera is better. More apps. We want the thumb unlock. Oh good they replaced the thumb unlock with my face-ID. I’m over the face id. Oh, did you hear, the new iPhone is offering the thumb unlock again. This one was too big. I want the OG size. Wait, the new one is in red and there’s never been red and there will never be red? I need that. And on and on it goes. We enjoy what we have until we think something better has come along.

Is marketing and consumerism re wiring our brain? Conditioning it not to commit. Dating apps and the hook up culture would suggest so. Every time you swipe there’s someone new waiting. An endless scroll of endless possibilities. This one will work - oh look- this one has this feature. Swipe. Dopamine hit. Swipe. Dopamine hit. Swipe.

The question is are you experiencing commitment issues because you are waiting for the next best thing or because your brain is in total overwhelm?

For example, you have someone like me, living in Austin, but not fully committing to calling it home because I think there might be something better somewhere else, resulting in me never really discovering if Austin is a good fit or not. People do this with jobs and relationships all the time. One foot in and one foot out rather than going all in. Our attention is and on other things. Dibbling and dabbling exerting all sorts of brain energy rather than giving all our focus to the commitment and then deciding if it’s for us or not.

Renegades, what would happen if you decided to go all in today on that thing you’ve been 2nd guessing? The job. The person. A dream or hobby you’ve been thinking about.

We feel safer in the indecision and the not doing. If you find out you do love this person you might start experiencing feelings you aren’t used to and subconsciously avoid like happiness, stability, love. Remember, the brain doesn’t care if the emotion you are used to experiencing is good or bad. It just wants to be right. If stress and unhappiness and instability are familiar to you, your brain will continue to choose the things that keep you safe in that space.

As you heard me say, I constantly moved growing up. 15 schools in 12 years. My brain is used to wondering where we are going next. How long will we be here? Is it time, yet? There was a lot of instability that I got very comfortable with. To stay in one place means stability. At first that sounds boring. Then scary. Then wait for it… stable. What might stable feel like? Who would I be if I felt stable? What would I have to let go of to be someone who feels stable? If I’m not using my brain to wonder where I’m going next, what will I think about or do instead?

When we commit, we get to have the life we want.

Ask yourself.

What is it you want most that you haven’t committed to yet?

Explore why you don’t have it already

What is the competing desire and why do you want that more?

Renegades, remember we inquire from a place of curiosity, not judgment. You want to reveal if you have been dismissing and judging yourself in a way that keeps this competing desire unclear in your subconscious. In order to commit, you want to find out what is in your way.

If your commitment issues are a result of too many options and your brain is in total overwhelm resulting in no decision and walking away, you’ll want to look at overwhelm.

Go with the Costco model and practice constraint. Remove all the shiny objects and give your attention to a limited amount of activities, people, jobs or goals. Seriously. Focus on 1-3 max and see what comes up for you. It will probably bring up your drama. Sometimes Renegades, we distract ourselves from ourselves and the feelings we would have to experience if we were to commit by having too many options.

When we are in overwhelm, we cannot find solutions. We sit and indulge in doing nothing. We as a society support overwhelm, too. You heard me last week, producing this podcast overwhelms me to the point where I’ve asked myself why am I doing this…

For some of you it’s overwhelm from being busy. So much going on at work I don’t have time.

Overwhelm keeps you from feeling the negative feelings that may come from making a decision. For example; if you have an endless list of to-do’s and have to be here’s it may be because you aren’t comfortable saying no, so you say yes to being on all the boards and the hosting the meetings and driving every ones kids home after school. You rather be overwhelmed than say no to someone and disappoint them. Another example may be fear of failure or making a mistake. So rather than going all in on one plan you try 17 different solutions, half ass them and overwhelm yourself.

Ask yourself what if overwhelm wasn’t an option? What would happen next?

What would you have to face or feel to commit?
Who will you be if you choose not to commit?
What will you have to let go of if you do decide to commit?
What would you have to become to commit?
To pursue your commitment, what will you have to feel?
What is compelling about who you’d become by committing?

Renegade, Inquire. Seek. Reveal.

And remember, there are no wrong decisions. There are decisions that result in outcomes that you give meaning to. That meaning is optional and up to you.

Happy Friends Giving

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