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Appreciation gone wrong: When obsession takes over

Appreciation gone wrong: When obsession takes over

Appreciation gone wrong: When obsession takes over
August 12
12:00 2022

Content warning: The following story includes language related to mental illness and eating disorders. Reader discretion is advised. 

In a list of words stripped of their true meaning, “obsessed” sits proudly at the top. Everyone has been a fan of something and sometimes fan tendencies can spiral into obsession. What makes obsession so dangerous is just how unpredictably it can affect lives. The truth is, there are no healthy ways to be obsessed with something — appreciation and obsession are completely different. Identifying and separating the two can help prevent problems that are not obvious until it is too late.

Obsession is easily recognizable and versatile. One recent instance of mainstream obsession came in the form of “Stranger Things” actor Joseph Quinn. Many know Quinn as the lovable Eddie Munson, a charming rocker that won the hearts of viewers when season four of the show was released. Appreciation for the actor and his character started normally: shirts and collectibles with the likeness of Eddie were flying off shelves everywhere. Some fans decided to take it a step further and leaked Quinn’s address to the public.

There is nothing wrong with appreciating a character or the actor playing them. Wear merchandise proudly and let people know they are your favorite character. What you shouldn’t do is parade around the internet acting like you know the actor personally just because you are a fan of them. Do not leak someone’s personal information to feel more connected to them.

There are other ways obsession can affect people — especially college students. For most, succeeding in college is looked at as a non-negotiable outcome. Biting off more than you can chew and giving yourself an unrealistic workload is a common way college students become obsessed with education. You can focus on school work while also finding time to spend on yourself. There is no better feeling than studying for a test and crushing it because you worked hard, but feeling like you are going to fail any time you aren’t studying is obsession at its worst. 

Obsession can be damaging in the literal sense too. On a more personal note, when I graduated high school I wanted to take better care of myself physically. I ate healthier and went to the gym more. When I started to finally lose weight I was over the moon. I appreciated all the time and effort I had put into my journey, but I wasn’t satisfied.

I became obsessed with losing weight and told myself if I ate too much of anything all the weight was going to spontaneously come back. There were days when I would skip out on food completely. I was miserable, but at least I thought I looked great. Thankfully, there are many resources that are more than helpful when dealing with things like body dysmorphia and eating disorders.

At the end of the day, the act of appreciation should be welcomed. There are floods of negativity on social media every day, so finding positive things to latch onto is crucial to living contently. Obsessing over something can be done without even realizing it. When there is an instance of obsession happening, don’t assume the person doing it has bad intentions. The key difference is that appreciation doesn’t require constant effort. You can appreciate something without physically doing something to prove its value.

Obsession may seem harmless at times, but it can have effects that are both mentally and physically damaging. Go buy that shirt with your favorite character on it. Study for that test, but reward yourself with something fun afterward. Switch up a diet and see if the gym helps your mental health. There is nothing wrong with appreciating things that bring us joy. Letting those things dictate life in damaging ways is preventable and identifiable if you separate obsession and appreciation.

Featured Illustration by Jazmine Garcia

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Jaden Oberkrom

Jaden Oberkrom

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