When I was young, I was famous for pushing the limit in regards to things which excited me. Be it something I wanted from the store, somewhere I wanted to go, or something I wanted to do– I was relentless. I’d ask over and over and over again until my parents, grandparents, friends, and teachers were ready to strangle me. I learned quickly to justify things I wanted to do in hopes it would allow them to realize the urgency behind my wishes. I can often feel myself becoming annoying and unbearable, but I can’t seem to stop myself from “beating a dead horse.”
Thinking back, I wasn’t trying to manipulate them into giving me what I wanted from a sense of deservedness, but because getting where I wanted to go, or getting the item I was pining for was the only thing to relieve the compulsion I was feeling. I don’t know now if I was spoiled, or what caused me to become this way– all I know is that I’ve been living for over 20 years now and still give in to every obsession that plagues me.
My most recent realization is that my obsessive tendencies go hand in hand with my anxiety– I convince myself that getting something new, or going somewhere fun, or doing something different will make my life better. For example, I’ll read on the internet that taking probiotics and weight loss seem to be correlated. For the next 24 hours, I’ll do nothing but read about types of probiotics, success stories, reviews, dosing, and price. Within a day of the beginning of my obsession I will possess a probiotic and the moment I get what I’ve been compulsively reading about I’ll feel sweet relief–almost a sort of high. It’s not materialism, it’s a temporary treatment for my anxiety.
I think when I’m busy obsessing over a show, product, or place I find less time to worry about things that are really bothering me: money, health, missing my family, the state of the country, how dirty my apartment is, etc. The grand distraction works, but also doesn’t always benefit me.
Perhaps when I feel a new obsession coming on, I ought to pause and take a moment and take a small step toward tackling a stressor that’s actually making me anxious. For example, right now instead of online shopping for new makeup I should organize all of the monthly bills that I have due this week and make a plan to get them paid. Either way I’ll feel better about my life, but by focusing on a real problem I’ll be doing my small part to ease my anxiety at the source.
Will I do that though? Probably not. I’ll probably continue to obsess and worry myself and others to death about meaningless things, because that’s my nature. However, realizing this about myself and others will hopefully allow all of us to understand each other better.
tl;dr: Next time someone you love is relentlessly bugging you about something they want, somewhere they want to go, or someone they want to see– give them grace. See it as an outward expression of anxiety. Help them see that you understand that you can’t stop talking about it, and try to help them relax. They’ll thank you later.