This I Believe

Nikolas - rancho mirage, California
Entered on January 8, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

Obsession is a part of my nature. I have OCD tendencies. Hand washing? Yeah I do that. Not touching doorknobs with my skin? That too. But it’s other things. It’s more the obsession than the compulsion. I can go without washing my hands, albeit at the cost of feeling miserable and unclean. But the obsessions can overwhelm me. When I was younger it was reading. I used to read almost six hours per day. And I enjoyed it. For a while it was golf, and I practiced every day. But these faded. It has been other, unhealthy obsessions as well. I started smoking one day. A few months later I was at almost a pack a day. It has been a source of innumerable problems in relationships. But I have learned to accept that obsession is what I am, and to focus on my positive obsessions, like reading, or exercising, and especially writing.

I did not realize that I was an obsessive person until I looked deeply into myself. I realized that throughout my entire life there had always been one central focus of all my attention. For many years, this was detrimental. I allowed myself to get caught up in activities that were pleasurable, but pernicious. I cannot tell you why I smoked. Of course nicotine is addictive, but it was more than that. It was a mental block. I could go days without cravings, but I would choose to always return to the cigarette. I would allow myself to get wrapped around people, completely intertwined with their life. When that friendship or relationship ended, I was crushed. It was after a time like this that I decided to change.

I began to understand that I could use these obsessions to my benefit. Rather than getting caught up around people that could hurt me, I began to rationalize through my friendships. I started to focus more on my healthy obsessions. I knew that I could not return to a normalcy in which I could have complete control. So I worked with myself, rather than against. I love to write. I started writing poetry and short stories to occupy my time. I used to work out but had stopped in recent years. I renewed my gym membership. I went to the bookstore and bought an entire bookshelf. I’m almost half way through.

I’ve learned that we cannot truly change who we are. We are born and raised in a way that shapes and molds us. There is wiggle-room, but not much. But in this small flexibility, the difference between a life of self-destruction and emptiness or a life of health and happiness is found. I have learned to use what I once thought was my fatal flaw in order to better my life and find contentment.