I have always had a highly obsessive personality. Like, not obsessive compulsive. Just straight up obsessive. I find things and I fall in love with them and I don’t let them go.
It started in third grade with the monkeys. There were monkey toys that wound up and clashed cymbals together, monkey birthday cakes because my dad said that he would draw anything I wanted on it with cream cheese frosting, monkey desktop backgrounds that I learned how to download on the dial up internet, monkey comic books written and illustrated by me and my brother and his friends.
I know every kid grows up with at least one weird obsession, but I grew up with a different one every year. There was fourth grade, the year I was obsessed with Green Day, and fifth grade, the year I was obsessed with Neopets, and sixth grade, the year I was obsessed with The Clique series by Lisi Harrison.
The other thing that happens to most kids that never happened to me is that they grow out of obsessions and learn to appreciate the things that they like in a more healthy way. The only difference with me now is that my obsessions last a little bit longer. Like, remember when I was obsessed with Glee for a good three-and-a-half years of my life? And also Darren Criss? Oh wait that’s now.
If you are not an obsessive person yourself, you wouldn’t understand how much these things take over your life. I spent hours memorizing the lyrics to every Green Day song, reading trivial facts from questionable sources so that one day I could impress someone with the very important fact that Billie Joe Armstrong’s cat was once killed in a washing machine which inspired one of the lines from the song Deadbeat Holiday on the album Warning, released in the year 2000. If you name a song that was on Glee seasons 1-3, I will not only tell you who sang it, why they sang it, and in what episode they sang it, but also what was happening in my life during the time that the episode aired.
If you look on Tumblr and are scared by the level of fangirl, I warn you never to look inside my head. I am a closet fangirl, my internal screaming only amplified by the walls I put up to present myself as partially sane.
But the thing is, fangirling is only fangirling when it exists in a world of pseudo-reality. Movies and TV shows and books are only as real as their fangirls believe them to be, and celebrities are only as real as the media romanticizes them to be. When we keep our obsessions in the fantasy world, they are like Play Doh in our hands, and we can shape them in whatever way strikes our fancy, only we don’t realize it. Fangirling is like idolizing the world as it moves past your car when really, the world is static and you’re the one driving.
Once fangirling enters the real world and is applicable in real-life situations, it takes on names with positive connotations, like passion, and love. If you are really obsessed with plants and spend your days memorizing the scientific names of plants and how to recognize them in the wild, you are not a plant fangirl. You are simply a botanist. If you buy Justin Bieber a birthday present and send him love letters and support him in his chosen career path, we call you a belieber, but if you do the same for a boy you know, we say you are in love.
But the thing is, obsessing over real things is unequivocally not like having Play Doh in your hands. Real things move, and change, and ignore you, and disagree with you, and are irrational, and cease to be things that you want to obsess over, and after all that, if you are still obsessed with them, then that is a passion and that is love.
The rest are simply things that must be let go.
As you may be able to imagine, as an extremely obsessive person, this is where I struggle. Becoming obsessed with things in the real world is a dangerous game to play, because there is always a chance that they won’t pass the test and will need to be forgotten. As a long-time fangirl, letting go doesn’t come easily, because in pseudo-reality, nothing and no one can force you to do so. I am in the real world like I was as a child with monkeys and Green Day and Neopets: I find things and I fall in love with them and I don’t let them go. I will always want to continue obsessing, to continue wondering what could’ve been if I hadn’t let go.
What I need to continuously remind myself, then, is that fantasy-world obsessions stay intact as long as you’d like, until they slowly fade away and are replaced by something else. Real-world obsessions are not so easily disposable.
Perhaps most obsessions are best kept in the fantasy world, and in real life, we are meant to let go. We are meant to let go, of course, so that we can make room for our one true real-world obsession, previously known as our one true love. I’d like to think that that’s true.