I have had a problem with commitment all my life. In nursery school, one of the teachers, Aunt Bamisaye, liked to ask what our favourite colours were: mine was blue and then it was orange and then it was green and then it was black and then it was blue again. And even now, sometimes it is pink, sometimes it is brown, sometimes it is grey. In Secondary School I was average, even though I could be much better. I did not want to commit to spending some extra-time where I ought to spend them. In relationships, my first lasted about three weeks. The first week, I called her at least twice each day. The next week, I called her twice. My last, which only just ended, began November 23rd. It lasted 53 days, relatively, that’s a long time. You know how on WhatsApp you have these very long conversations in one day that you just keep scrolling and scrolling and that day never seem to end? It was like that with her at first. It is like that with me all the time, the conversations get shorter and shorter until they cease to exist. And many times, even though I know I owe them an explanation for leaving, I do not explain because I cannot explain.
In 2017, two of the things I hope to be more are consistent and committed. And so I carried out this experiment.
There is a popular experiment called the Beach Blanket, developed by Tom Moriarty: When a person left their beach blanket unattended and an item was stolen, only 1 in 5 people intervened. However, when the blanket owner made people commit by asking them to look out for their belongings while they were gone, people intervened 95% of the time.
I aligned my experiment along Moriarty’s. I picked out fifteen people. Five of them, I had not spoken to at all this year. Five of them, I said happy New Year to on New Year’s Day, and Five of them, I had spoken with at least twice, or seen, this year. I asked each of them how they were doing and then I told each of them that I was embarking on a journey to Benin City the next day, which I was (journey coincided nicely with experiment). I did not say what my purpose for the journey was even though all but one asked.
I wanted to measure if my problem was like my fiction: just a figment of my imagination; if people readily committed to others better than I did.
All the five people who I had not spoken with during the year called me after the journey. Two of them called me twice during the journey. One called three times during the journey and twice after: one time to ask how I was finding Benin City and the second time to ask if I was suitably rested and do I like ‘their’ food? She is from here, so maybe there was a bias?
For those who I had only said happy New Year to on New Year’s Day, four of them called after the journey. Three called during the journey and one woke me up at five am and said, ‘have you brushed your teeth? Hope you know the buses leave here at six?' (here is Ilorin). When I asked what she was doing awake at five in the morning, she said she asked two of her roommates to wake her up but they did not need to because she was already awake a little bit before five o clock.(Humans are lovely!)
For those who I had spoken to a lot or seen this year, four of them called during the journey, three after the journey and one just called again (I am typing the first draft of this at 21:29 pm on Thursday by my hotel room window in Benin City) and asked if I had found any ‘cute Benin Chicks yet.’
These results have shown me that yes, I have a problem, but no, my problem does not mean that other people who are friends of mine are affected by it in such a way that would make them not concerned about me as I am sometimes not concerned about them.
There is a quote I saw once, ‘you always have two choices: your commitment versus your fear.’
My fear has dwarfed my commitment for too long. It is time to make a change.
(Thanks to everybody who (unknowingly) participated in my experiment).