“I began to realise how important it was to be an enthusiast in life… if you are interested in something, no matter what it is, go at it at full speed ahead. Embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it and above all become passionate about it. Lukewarm is no good. Hot is no good, either. White hot and passionate is the only thing to be.” — Roald Dahl, “My Uncle Oswald”
I go through phases of obsessions. Sometimes it’s a TV show, a musical, a video game, a book, a celebrity, a band, a hobby—you name it, I’ve clung onto it and let it consume my life. For whatever reason, I’m the kind of person who can’t enjoy something casually. Instead, I spend hours scouring Wikipedia for information on the thing, making Pinterest boards, crafting Spotify playlists and rambling about it to everyone I love. I used to be embarrassed about how passionate I would get about random things, but I’ve learned to embrace it.
As a kid, I fixated on things like Webkinz, the “Harry Potter” books, mermaids, vampires and Pokemon. As a teen, I loved anime, emo music (mostly Panic! At The Disco and My Chemical Romance), Let’s Players on YouTube, the video game “Undertale,” 80s B-horror films and musicals like “Little Shop of Horrors.” A lot of my teenage interests carried over into adulthood, with the addition of things like Minecraft, Mary Shelley’s classic novel “Frankenstein,” the band iDKHOW and the Broadway musical “Beetlejuice.”
I can’t articulate why I like a lot of these things. For some, it’s because they reflect my life or personality in some way. I like certain characters, for example, because they embody traits I have (or want to have). I love Lydia from “Beetlejuice” because her story speaks to a lot of my struggles from when I was a teenager. For other things, I couldn’t tell you why I like them. There are just certain elements that strike my fancy, and when I find them, I just know it. Most of the time, it feels like a sort of spiritual connection; this might sound ridiculous to some, but I feel an inexplicable connectedness to certain video games or movies or what be it, almost like I was meant to find them. That’s how I felt, for instance, from the moment I read “Frankenstein.” I immediately felt a powerful, emotional connection to the characters, the author and the book.
My advice to anyone who shares this trait is to completely, unapologetically indulge in your fixations. My interests are what make life constantly feel exciting and new. When I find a new obsession, I get a rush of happiness that’s totally unmatched. Don’t worry about what others think—there is only a small population (a very rude, boring population) of people who will look down on you for having passions. The rest of us will support you no matter what, because we understand that life is about loving the little things.
If something makes you happy, don’t deprive yourself of it. Even if your interest is totally niche or a little weird, be proud of it. Tell your friends about that movie you can’t stop thinking about. Write that fanfiction, draw that fanart, cosplay that character or create that blog you’ve always wanted to. Life is too short not to enjoy things to the fullest.
And don’t sweat it if your obsessions start to fizzle out. I realized recently that my phases are always cyclical. While I often feel a twinge of sadness and guilt when one of my phases burns out—almost like I’m abandoning the thing I love—I know I’ll rediscover it someday. Without fail, I always stumble upon it again. And it will be even sweeter in the future when I watch that movie or listen to that band and it now has a beautiful element of nostalgia.
Whatever your interests are, wear them loud and proud. You’d be surprised how much you can benefit from being vocal about what you love. You can find friends who like the same things as you. You can set an example and inspire others to be themselves. You can feel more creatively inspired. You can find a sense of excitement and fulfillment in life. Whatever your motivation is, I encourage you to totally immerse yourself in the joy of obsessions.