I can’t tell the difference between being passionate and being obsessed, probably because I have yet to find a drive in life that I feel passionate about. Or maybe I have and I assume it’s an obsession. Who knows. At varying points in my life, I’ve had an assortment of obsessions, with most being cast away as I got older and my interests shifted. I don’t know about other people’s experiences with obsessions, but mine have often linked to other memories or entwined with painful emotions. Instead of talking about every obsession I’ve ever had, I’ll mention the ones that were most relevant.
I was a 90’s kid born in 1989. Gel pens were a thing then. I could never collect all the colors, but for the ones I did have, my childhood friends and I used them to take turns drawing designs on our hands. Hearts and flowers were my favorite things to doodle, not because I felt an affinity for romance and beauty, but because they were easy to draw. “Ooh, Nathalie’s in love!”, one classmate in junior high mockingly said to me after swiping my notebook, which I covered with doodles of hearts and flowers in black ink.
To this day, I still have the 30+ Barbie dolls I collected as a young girl. They are sitting in a glass display above the living room cabinet used for storing coats. I haven’t thought about those dolls in years until now, despite that they’ve been in the display for well over 10 years. I think about how each doll cost my parents a pretty penny. I really had no concept back then of how much each one cost, but in my childish mind I knew they weren’t cheap. It was often that when I went in Toys R’Us with my parents, I hated feeling uneasy as I walked to the Barbie doll aisle. There was something unsettling about knowing my parents were trailing after me as if I was the one leading the way for my own crew and somehow I didn’t want to be the one captaining the ship.
The most awkward part was getting to the aisle and seeing the doll I wanted. I was hesitant to tell my parents that’s the one I wanted, even if we came to Toys R’Us for the purpose of getting me a Christmas or birthday gift. I would study the doll, marvel over the beautifully painted face with immaculate hair whose body was dressed in a well-crafted outfit, and the rush of excitement I got over the possibility of the doll being mine. I was greedy and selfish on the one hand and guilt-stricken on the other. I associated my want with shame because my parents had to pay money. So many times, I’d stand there in the aisle in front of the doll, feeling the weight of my own legs, whilst stuck in my internal panic about satisfying my own desires or simply telling my parents I didn’t want the doll. I could say neither, not without a verbal prompt from my parents about if this was the doll I wanted. A few times I mustered up the courage to say, “no, I don’t want it” in perhaps the most unconvincingly way possible. The times my dad would pick up the doll and head to the checkout line, I’d feel relief that he was taking charge of the situation for me to save me the trouble of giving direct verbal confirmation that I did indeed want the doll. This is another instance of my development lag in verbal unconfidence/assertiveness.
The age range of between eleven and fifteen-years-old was when I became obsessed with the internet. I used an old, clunky computer that was passed down to me from my brother. Sailor Moon was my favorite anime, and I mainly browsed the internet for fan sites. Later this transitioned to reading a lot of fanfiction on Fanfiction.net, lol. I got lost in a lot of those stories to escape reality. I was in a bad place mentally once I entered junior high school. A couple of times I inserted myself as a fictional character into preexisting universes, though I pretty much sucked at this kind of writing. I almost always turned myself into a Mary Sue; most likely because I craved a world where I was free of imperfections and oppression. Reading fanfiction is a sometimes hobby now, but only for select stories I like.
I used to be big on RPG video games. For PC, the two I remember playing a lot of was Princess Maker and Virtual Villagers. Games are easier to access today than they used to be because of the phone app download feature. Like with the internet, I could very easily slide down into a slope of chaos if I allowed it to dominate most of my spare time. I’m not a fan of games that ask you to log in every day to collect rewards. I used to play BattleTales for that and one day I just got sick of the obligation before I decided to delete the app from my phone for good. It’s a shame since the game has nice graphics and character models. Now I just stick to matching games like Pyramid Solitaire and Cookie Jam, but even those I play sparingly because a lot of time can be lost just from crushing levels all day when I have other stuff to take care of.
Some obsessions are really minor, like my fixation with pulling out my charger from the wall if I’m not actively charging anything because I’m concerned about wasting electricity. The worry that always pops into my head about double checking the stove before bed or before I go out because I don’t want to burn down the house. Or having to count my cash (and then count again a second time) before I get on a line to pay for my items because it’ll save me the social embarrassment of sheepishly asking the cashier to unscan one of my items if I don’t have enough money to pay for everything.
What are some of your past and current obsessions? Do you find they have a positive or negative impact on you?