Practicing Openness and Acceptance

I have commitment issues about books, houses, and relationships. I confess these shortcomings because some might consider them aberrations in an otherwise “normal” life. For example, at any one time, I’m reading 5-6 books. It’s only difficult if I go too long between reading cycles because I forget some of the details.Acceptance

Regarding houses, I have little to no desire to pay a mortgage every month. In spite of “rent is tossing money done the drain” advice, I’m inclined to maintain the flexibility of month-to-month living versus a 30-year contract. Then there’s relationships.

I’ve found little to recommend the partnered version of life. Given the small, conservative community I live in, my single state perplexes more than a few people. I’ve adopted the standard line that I won’t be with anyone who doesn’t make life better than being single. So, here’s how my issues relate to you: I believe we’ve been told that fitting a niche is important and that aberrations need to be stamped out—and I think we’re ignoring it.

I can already hear people saying, “We’re living in one of the most open and accepting of times.” On the surface? Maybe. Dig a little deeper and I’m not convinced that we’re any less susceptible to the idea that people should fit, whether it’s within a family, a community, or another social group.

Technically, there’s nothing wrong with my commitment issues. They affect few if any people other than me, but the outward appearances they create leave me open to the criticism of others. Consider how you define people based on the brands they choose.

If you’re a Mac person, doesn’t part of you always feel a little sorry for those unenlightened PC people? If you’re a PC person, don’t you wonder why the Mac people pay more for essentially the same machine? What about how we define people based on the jobs they hold? As much as we might wish otherwise, we make our judgments.

I’m still undecided on the goodness or badness of this particular behavior (thus the post to hopefully start a discussion). For me, the bigger issue is how we ignore the role of these judgments. We make assumptions about general acceptance and then wonder why our country is closely divided on so many issues, including politics, business, and technology.

I hear it in conversations when I travel, among members of my social groups, and in blogs from the around the world. We pick up on the things that are different and use them to make our judgments. As our social networks continue to expand, breaking through the previous barriers of cost, distance, and language, our society may actually have to become what we’ve believed it to be: open and accepting.


(Image courtesy of Ryan Christopher. Some rights reserved.)


5 Responses to “Practicing Openness and Acceptance”

  1. January 22, 2008 at 5:45 pm

    Hmm, I wonder if you actually have commitment issues or if you are just one of many others with similar views on a few key topics. I satisfy two of the three that you mention (currently reading four books, not married in a tiny town). Plus, I wouldn’t own a house if I could have found rent that was less expensive when I moved here. But wait there’s more, I have both Mac and PC. So I’m officially less committed than either Mac people or PC people, too.

    You really sound so similar to many of the people I know – fitting nicely into our own little niche. Maybe we should round up everyone and start our own type of social networking community!

    Hard to say about the judgments we make when we’re “sizing up” someone. I think we learn to know by association, so maybe it’s just our subconscious trying to assimilate information. As for good or bad, if that’s true and we are indeed actually learning, then that must be good.

  2. 2 Britt
    January 23, 2008 at 10:38 am

    @Shannon: personally I don’t consider them commitment issues. Other people do. I simply think they are part of who I am.j

    As I mentioned in the post, I’m not convinced that judgments are necessarily bad things. I just wish people were more open about the fact that they were making judgments based on differences and this urge to stash things and people in niches.

  3. January 29, 2008 at 9:30 pm

    I never like it when I get “the look” from people as to why I’m still single. At the same time, it’s hard not to agree with them, because I must admit that I wouldn’t mind having someone around. And from a practical perspective, they’re right: Two heads are often better than one. Two sets of hands makes work less of a chore. And it’s easier to face a challenge when you’ve got someone standing with you.

    It may be that the kind of commitment I want to make is more than just sex and having someone around to help do the laundry. But what do I know about it? I don’t want to settle for comfort, which might sound insane.

  4. 4 Britt
    January 30, 2008 at 12:43 pm

    @Dave: Settling for comfort accomplishes little, IMHO. Comfort is relatively short-termed and makes it difficult to advance, so no, I don’t think you’re insane in that regard. We’ve defined commitment for so long as this set thing that I wonder if we’re shortchanging ourselves.

  5. February 1, 2008 at 12:58 am

    Sorry Britt- I didn’t really consider them issues either, just wanted to take the chance to laugh a little at myself for being in a similar situation. I’m not really good at sarcasm.

    I guess because of the people I spend time with, I don’t often get funny looks or awkward questions about being single. Further, I haven’t really tried to stay single, any more than I have actively sought to change that situation. I think, though, that I really relate to what Dave is saying. If I’m going to radically alter my way of living, then something more than a convenient domestic arrangement is required.

    I think sometimes that you find yourself so connected with someone, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually, that it would be foolish to not ‘commit’ to spending at least one lifetime with that person (and unfortunate that you couldn’t spend more than one). I know that I have been that fool who ignored the possibility at least once, being too immature to recognize it for what it was.

    Some people don’t believe in the idea of a soul mate, and I’m not sure I do either. But I know that occasionally, and very rarely, there is that one person who is just such a perfect complement to yourself that you’d be dumber, your life would seem worth less to you, and your entire spirit would suffer if not for connecting yourself with her (or him, as your case may dictate).

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