Okay, before I go any further, I can guarantee that I wouldn’t wear a cologne invented by these psychos… But anyway! Obsessions. We all have them. Even if you think you don’t… you do. Some people have unhealthy ones (heroin and booze!) and others have productive ones (knitting, writing…) but we all have them. Some of us *cough* have a lot of them.
One thing that has been both my triumph and downfall for most of my life is my wide variety of interests. I act, I sing, I play piano (and guitar, sax, trombone, etc..), I rock climb, I write, I remodel houses, I play D&D, I philosophize, I play around with computers and techy gadgets… and that list barely breaks the surface. I have a lot of interests, and only so much time to spend on them. So I improvise – I focus on one for a while, then switch. The problem with this is that it gets summed up by the phrase “Jack of all trades, master of none” very well. So how does one get around this?
Focus – Focus on a few interests despite your interest in many. This lets you spend a lot of time on a few… but then you start to feel bad because you’re not stretching your interests. You feel shallow, because you’re not well rounded and exploring new things. This works for some, but not everyone, and certainly not me.
Timeshare – Rotate your interests, as Brandon suggests. Spend a few months on one, then switch. Spend a few months on the new one, and switch to a new one. This works well also, for a number of interests. But when you have “too many,” it falls apart. You end up spending 3 months on one, and then never returning to it.
So how does someone with that many interests handle it? I don’t know… I haven’t figured it out yet :). But what I do know is that I love everything I do. And some of them I would consider myself a “master” of… as much as I believe someone can master anything (which is not at all). So it’s not all bad. The real key is to enjoy what you do, I think. I used to play World of Warcraft – a game that many people call addicting, or an “obsession.” And I used to play it a lot. But when I got bored with the game, I simply stopped playing… and trust me, there are a lot of aspects of it to be bored with. It’s a matter of knowing what you enjoy, and doing what you enjoy.
In time, many obsessions can be “relaxed.” We call those “hobbies.” But is there really a difference? I’d say no. If it’s something you enjoy doing, and do with some frequency, it can be called an obsession. And on the other side, you can be obsessed with disliking something. I despise a few things… but there are some I’m obsessed with despising. I make sure I know everything about them so I can tear them down. This might not necessarily be healthy… but it sure is fun to come across someone who supports one of those things… heh heh. Yes, I’m evil.
Lately, I’ve finally gotten a breakthrough as a writer. And this is good, because writing is something I’ve never gotten bored with. Sure I’ve taken breaks from it (sadly…) but I’ve always come back around to writing. And now it’s my profession. This I like. I can get comfortable with this. But am I going to sit by contentedly now? No! I’m going to write more! I’m going to challenge myself! Because that’s the other side of the coin for me… an obsession isn’t something you just “do,” it’s something that you constantly strive to be better at.
So what does it mean to be obsessed? A lot of different things… but the trick is to handle your obsessions healthily… and enjoy what you do.