Why I’m Jealous of Obsessions

I missed out on having obsessions. Not the creepy kind like in the movie Obsession (I’ve only watched the trailer, not the full movie, and it scared me so much that I screamed, locked all my doors, and hid under my bed), but a good healthy obsession.  Like the kind of obsession where you feel like you need to exercise every day.  Or the kind of obsession where you take cars apart  all day because you’re just so damn interested in how they work.  Or the kind of obsession where you feel outraged about the injustices in the world and you dedicate your life to solving them.

I’d say that everyone who is successful and actually happy has one of these “healthy” obsessions.  Here’s my proof:

  1. To be successful, you must work hard for an extended period of time
  2. To work hard on a regular basis, you must enjoy your work (otherwise you burn out)
  3. To enjoy your work to that extent, you must be very interested in the topic, constantly curious to know more, excited by any progress you make, and always wanting to do more.
  4. The pink text = definition of obsession (my personal definiteion)
  5. Therefore to be successful, you must have an obsession

The last time I took a math class with proofs was years ago, so don’t blame me for the shaky logic (sorry to my students from last year who had to suffer through my Geometry class!).

The only real obsessions I’ve had are with Josh Groban, Demi Lovato, and key changes.  Judge me; I don’t care.  I will defend them to my dying breath.  In fact, if I am dying and someone is playing a song that has a key change, I will magically revive just so I can shout “KEY CHANGE!!”  So unless there’s a job that allows me to weep freely while listening to Josh Groban, extol Demi’s amazing range while listening to her music, and alert the building via PA to every key change…I’m in trouble.

As a (fairly) recent college grad, I’m still stuck in that delusion of “I’M TOTALLY GOING TO FIND A JOB THAT I LOVE AND I WILL LOVE EVERYTHING ABOUT IT AND I WILL MAKE LOTS OF MONEY.” Although I’m gradually coming to accept that I will dislike something about every job, I still can’t figure out what kind of job would give me overall happiness.  Because I’ve never felt like “OMG THIS IS SO COOL I WANT TO SPEND THE REST OF MY LIFE DOING THIS.” I’m actually not sure if anybody else has felt it either, but I wish I could anyway.

Growing up, my obsessions were all artificial–purely dictated by what was expected of me.  I worked hard in high school because I just assumed that’s what everyone did (hah, n00b). I signed up for a million activities, led a club, and practiced violin every week because that’s obvious.  In college, I joined clubs, picked a practical major, and started working in a lab asap. When things got tough, I kept going not because I loved what I was doing, but because of deadlines, expectations, and horror stories of people who couldn’t get jobs because of low grades.  My obsessions were created as a reaction to fear of the consequences.

The dead giveaway to the fact that my obsessions were fake is that they always had a finite ending.  Fear worked so well because my hard work was always temporary.  Once the paper was written, the final was handed in, or the presentation over…I moved on without a backwards glance.  Yes, that paper was hard, that final was so completely unfair, and my presentation sucked balls, but I knew no matter what I’d be done forever by the time the deadline rolled around.

Now, I’m expected to choose a career where there’s no ending to what I’m doing?  Nobody telling me what’s expected, no deadlines, and no consequences for not doing a certain amount every day? ?  I’m a wreck.  I’ve spent too much of my life without real intrinsic self motivation to actually pursue anything on my own.  I was very interested in coding from the start–that is, when I was doing online tutorials, trying out beginner exercises, and getting gold stars for every project completed. But now the going is tough, since I’ve passed the easy beginner part.  Now I need some stamina to get me through projects that don’t really have an end, but keep building.  Where are my deadlines?  Where are my grades?  Where is the end?

Why can’t I be obsessed?  Everything would be so much simpler.

Wow, that was a way larger dose of self-pity than I intended to include.  Thanks for reading if you made it this far, and feel free to share your thoughts on obsessions.  Do you have any?  Do you think everyone can have them or are they only or those who have a certain mindset?



2 thoughts on “Why I’m Jealous of Obsessions

  1. codeinfig says:

    its funny, obsessions are like the views of nutritionists about eggs: one year theyre good for you, they represent determination, and the next theyre a terrible neurosis indicative of an unbalanced personality. cant we just say they have pros and cons?

    the last thing i want is for people to suggest that someone who is driven towards something they love “must have a problem,” though *not* being obsessed can be a strength, too. not being obsessed means you have an extra chance to see the bigger picture on things, i actually think someone who is not obsessed is LESS likely to suffer from burnout, and despite the tone of the adage, i dont think a “jack of all trades, master of none” is always a bad thing. it means youre flexible.

    of course, we go through fads in how we value people: our rules for good friends, good workers, good advice changes (like those poor eggs. i promise no ones paying me to defend them incidentally, ive just always liked them. its possible theyre unhealthy. if youre one of the vegetarians or vegans im subscribed to on here and hate the thought, i apologize. i intended it as a metaphor, not a promotion.)

    right now people are very divided on whether obsession is “a good thing or a bad thing.” i suspect the answer to that is “maybe.” dont envy it though, or that will become an obsession 🙂 play to your strengths: after all, theyre yours.

  2. seasaltandvinegar says:

    Thanks, this puts a great perspective on my thoughts! You’re right, it’s a very subjective issue. Your thoughts allow me to see that maybe this is a “grass is greener on the other side” kind of thing.

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