Let’s start with the positive connotations. This type of obsession may be benign; it’s an obsession, but it doesn’t really affect anyone except for you and the people in your immediate surroundings. Such as an obsession with a fictional character which can be considered as a characteristic or a taste you have. It can also be an obsession with a hobby or pursuing a passion that helps you improve as a person; these are good things. This positive type can be seen as your drive, your concentration, or your focus to be better. You spend noticeably more time than others doing or subscribing to something in a field where you can grow.
Yet there are limits for these obsessions. Does your goal to have the largest collection of SpongeBob merchandise make you broke on a daily basis? Does your perfectionism with makeup get you chronically late to places? An obsession past a certain point lurks in the intrusive side of the spectrum, interfering with your normal life. It's as if the more you spend time on that passion, the more you become incapable of functioning in the other aspects of your life; not to mention you do not improve as a person while pursuing it.
This is where dangerous obsessions start; the ones eating up your hours of sleep, preventing you from eating, the ones depleting your savings just so that you can add more fuel to the fire that you've created. Detrimental obsessions are mentally and physically unhealthy. They either take over your habits or create undue anxiety. You might feel so much pressure on yourself to get closer to a goal, to get further away from the state in which you are in, and this can make you destructive. The problem is that when your obsession has crossed that line, you realize that there is no real goal. A person with such an invasive obsession might have unrealistic expectations and standards; they might have a warped view of their situation and they don't even realize it.
So, does it make sense to obsess over something? As mentioned, there are gradients, and each case is subjective, dependent on their environment. It makes sense when you’re reaching for a tangible goal. Some might think that you’re crazy for spending excessive hours each day training for a game while others know the effort that is needed to be successful. However, it is absurd when what you’re striving for is an unreachable ideal, such as an arbitrary bar of perfection that might’ve been created by the society you're in or by yourself.
If you try to follow an abstract ideal created by society, you’ll just drive yourself crazy; the results will never look like what you think you want and it’ll create unnecessary anxiety. On the other hand, giving your best to maintain your interests while taking into consideration the opinions of the people in your immediate social group might just help you improve and become the best you.
I do have to remind you though, even if what you’re striving for seems like a rationalized goal, it doesn’t mean you have to beat yourself up about it if something doesn't go according to plan. The point of trying to reach that goal is to improve yourself in whatever you’re interested in and not to ruin your mental and physical health while you’re at it. Everything should be in moderation.
- Laura Alonso