Who doesn't want to live an adventure?
It's been the subject of many a new book and blog recently, but is adventure really all it's cracked up to be? Where does the role of commitment and integrity play in “living a great story”?
Committing after the adventure
Awhile ago, I wrote piece for RELEVANT Magazine about “committing after the adventure,” and it articulates a lot of my struggles with growing up. Here's an excerpt:
After graduating from college, I had all kinds of hopes and aspirations. I wanted to change the world.
My first job was working as a writer for a nonprofit organization. I thought it was a short-term commitment, because everything I had done up until that point in my life was. A semester abroad, a summer in Texas, a year on the road—these were my ideas of commitment.
It didn’t take long, though, to realize this opportunity would be different. I was about to learn a painful, but important, lesson about commitment. And it would be years before I would be able to start thinking about my own dreams again.
If I had known this going into the job, I wouldn’t have taken it.
My first work project was to launch an online magazine telling missionaries’ stories. This was followed by a short-term mission trip to Mexico, where I would be cataloguing stories of young people who were traveling the world.
I was certain this 15-day trip would spark another season of adventure in me. I envisioned Machu Picchu. The Great Wall of China. Africa. All in the same year. This was going to be amazing. Maybe I would even write a book about it some day.
But I was rudely disappointed. Instead, all I got were spreadsheets, trips to our Georgia headquarters, and a new, shiny, $500 Dell laptop. Hardly the adventure I expected.
So, what kept me there? It wasn’t the paycheck (I had to raise my own salary). It was the opportunity to be part of something bigger than myself, to be led by vision and opportunity.
Sure, I didn’t get to participate in crazy, round-the-world journeys like I had in previous seasons of life, but I got something better: a chance to serve someone else’s dream.
“More” isn't better
We begin our adult lives seeking thrills. We want more. More fame, more fortune, more friends. We want a moment worth retelling.
But the problem with that thinking is this: Many moments are fleeting.
If we live for the thrill of the week, we constantly find ourselves chasing the wind. And some things take longer than a weekend road trip to come to fruition.
The tragic, painful realization of my twenties is that most stuff doesn't last. Most relationships fizzle out. Most jobs end. Most sources of comfort start feeling dull after awhile.
The secret to happiness is committing to something, anyway.
Not because it's the best job in the world or the greatest relationship you'll ever have, but because we all need to learn how to commit before we can do it well.
Start practicing commitment today
The only way to really learn something is to do it. To try it out for awhile. Not for a week or a month, but a year. Maybe longer.
I know this is difficult and sometimes scary, but it's also good for you. How else is character formed — except through the hard, sometimes painful, work we don't want, but need, to do?
And what better time to start than today?
What's your perspective on this adventure/commitment dichotomy? Share in the comments. Oh, and be sure to check out my piece on RELEVANT (part of their Reject Apathy site). While you're at it, read this other piece, too.