Commitment: The college epidemic


Photo credit: Helen Suh

Commitment: Just the word itself sounds big, scary and a little daunting. Maybe it’s because commitment truly is all that, or maybe it’s because I’m a 19-year-old college student and I know we are terrified of the word.

Committing to people, places, activities, clubs, organizations, jobs and schoolwork is something all college students should be doing throughout their university experience, yet it feels like no one is capable of doing this anymore. Empty promises, loose ends and stopping short is now the norm among college students.

Of course, the most notable commitment issue seen in our college peers is failure to commit to relationships. It’s no secret that dating in college isn’t easy; people our age can’t seem to get the commitment thing right. We’re living in a culture where we’re constantly supposed to be looking for the next best thing and keep our options open, which is a problematic mindset in a relationship.

College students have trouble committing themselves to another person because we seem to be dissatisfied with our decisions and choices and thus feel the need to second-guess ourselves. I know many people that have been completely content and happy in a relationship, yet they remove themselves from the whole situation because of fear of commitment. The idea of being with one person and one person only is scary and much too limiting, right?

However, the commitment issues don’t just end there for college students. Another big commitment that I’ve seen many students struggle with (including myself) is finding and keeping a job. Of course everyone’s financial situations are different, but for the most part, the responsible thing at some point in college is to get a job and earn money for yourself. This seems pretty simple, but I’ve been learning that committing to the job search and securing a job is a lot easier said than done.

The reasons behind students’ failure to find and keep a job are the same reasons behind many of our commitment issues. For one, having a job (similar to being involved in sports or an academic organization) takes up time that college students aren’t willing to give up. Our social time has become so valuable to us that the idea of giving it up feels impossible, thus driving down our motivation to spend time seeking, securing and committing to a job that would occupy much of our time.

As I mentioned before, people our age have the natural instinct to believe they simply can’t settle on one choice; options must be kept wide open and there has to be something better out there. I think college students have a particular problem with this, which can deeply affect our future relationships and success.

It’s time that we start realizing the consequences of our decisions when we choose to walk away from a commitment and give up. Following through on promises and dedications is a strong characteristic that is imperative for us all to build through our college years.

Because of this, we all need to stop running away from commitment and face it head on. Embrace the promises you’ve made and carry them out, as you never know what could come of it and the experiences that you could gain.

Emma Vidak-Benjamin can be reached at [email protected] or @gnarlyemma on Twitter.