Human beings take comfort in routine. Daily routines can range from the typical—coffee in the morning on the way to class—to the more peculiar, compulsive habits like chewing food in even numbers before swallowing. Regardless of the methodology or reasoning behind them, routines are necessary in order to maintain stability in the otherwise unruly madness of life.
Like the ticking hand of a precise stopwatch, routines (or as some may call them, “rituals”) maintain a steady rhythm in the midst of the unpredictable and wavering – a healthy pulse in the ever-changing processes of our daily lives. But what would happen if our lives were no longer based on this pulse for mere stability? What if we were so dependent on our routinely rituals that we lived for them, instead of just with them? When an insignificant daily routine becomes a consistent and perpetual thought, the otherwise harmless habit takes precedence over one’s sanity and crosses over to a level of obsession.
Surely you have heard about the horrors of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, or OCD. I am not even going to go that far with this essay. I will instead bring to light an issue overlooked by many, and even praised by some, of the “everyday obsession.” An everyday obsession is something that you may see in a handful of your peers, and can be summed up with a few more forgiving terms: drive, passion, impulse, etc. These things are all well and good when used sparingly. But a line must be drawn between simply caring enough about one’s grades, for example, in order to excel, and caring so much about grades to be driven to the point of insanity.
I am speaking strictly from personal experience. Not about grades per say (take a look at my current study habits and that will be clear), but about living with obsession. The majority of my life was driven by random phases of obsessive thoughts and goals. A goal can often be used as a healthy thing, propelling one forward in times of disarray, much like a comforting routine can.
But my goals were silly and useless, and don’t really make much sense to me now that I look back at them. I would thrive off of them until I would burn out from exhaustion, much the same way I will overplay a favorite song until I can stand it no longer. My emotions and moods would be dependent on how well my day matched the current obsessive phase I was in, and at times, this worked for the better. When my happiness was dependent on my appearance, I could essentially formulate a good mood with nice clothing and makeup. But once I became focused on relationships, suddenly my happiness was less easy to control, being so stubbornly dependent on other people.
Eventually, (and rather recently) my obsessive behavior managed to subside. What was left over instead was a very dull kind of apathy, not only to the things that I used to obsess over, but to everything in general—a residual emptiness. I spent a lot of time trying to escape boredom, procrastinating, sitting on Facebook and the like (which, if you add up the number of hours I spend wasting away on Facebook, is really a horrifying thought…) until eventually I stumbled across a hobby that was actually, to my disbelief, quite fulfilling.
I discovered a passion in me that wasn’t an unhealthy obsession, that wasn’t a ridiculous ritual, and wasn’t a compulsive desire to control some aspect of my life that really holds no importance whatsoever.
It was the simple passion and desire to write. A calling, if you will. Suddenly my emptiness was filled and my general apathy subsided, being replaced with a selfish curiosity towards this one calling. It was the most fulfilling revelation I’ve had yet, and may every person be lucky enough to find his or her own unique drive in life.
So although I may not have stopped obsessing, at least I know now it’s over something worthwhile—and something, that finally, gives me peace of mind.