Soulful Saturday: Obsession

Hello everyone! It’s time for another post of me gushing about things that aren’t just topical, easy to discuss things. For a change though, my topic is actually writing related! (Shocking, I know!) Today, I’d like to tell you about a little problem I’ve had most of my life since I learned to read and spell. A little thing called…. Obsession.

I don’t know why or how it started. One day, I just noticed an error in the work I was reading. And, when I found the error, I stared at it. I stared hard, thinking, praying it would fix itself. I was certain it would, because I was a child at the start of this. But no, it didn’t change. I couldn’t will it. And, thus, I never got through it. I just kept staring, and staring, and staring some more.

When I hit middle school age, it became a bigger problem. Whether it was English class where we were learning grammar, or another class unrelated to language, I would stare at any issue I saw, even if it was done on purpose. Eventually, I started asking to answer each question regarding proper use of commas and the like, when three were on the board for three of us. I wanted all of them- because I couldn’t trust my classmates to get it right, and that’d just lead me down a spiral of despair. And this wasn’t even the worst of it.

In high school, I was hospitalized for suicidal ideation. No, this wasn’t because of errors on the chalk board, but it leads to my favorite story of just how badly my need to fix errors was perceived. You see, once you’re out of the psych ward for- for children, anyway- you get sent to what’s called ‘partial hospitalization’. Basically, it’s the gate between the hospital and normal life. The people that work there are mostly therapists and doctors, and they know all your problems, whether because you warned them or because they had your records from your stint in the hospital.

You’d think a therapist can keep their cool when they know a patient means no harm and has an issue where they can’t focus when they see an error. But this one time, I got lucky and found the one that didn’t fit that stereotype. She was telling us about mantras- you know, the things you say to yourself to calm down, or to meditate? But what she wrote on the board was manta. Like a manta ray fish. Naturally, this became my new focus- and, knowing myself, I automatically raised my hand and, when called on, corrected her mistake.

She exploded. “Oh, so now you’re a genius with foreign words too!?” I don’t remember if I pointed out to her mantra was considered a word in the English language too. Or, y’know, the fact it’s got the ‘r’ sound right in it. She was beyond pissed with me, and we never seemed to calm that storm she felt toward me since then. I wasn’t sure how to feel myself, however. To this day, I don’t know what I think of her.

Not everyone saw my obsession as a bad thing though. When I was a teenager, I dealt with the Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS). My DYFS worker couldn’t spell for her life, and she knew it well. She warned me before we were going to do an exercise of some sort that involved writing things down on her side, and told me to correct her anytime I saw a misspelling. Which was a lot. But the fact was, this woman accepted she was far from perfect, and gave my imperfection of obsessing over these things a new meaning.

I’ve made peace with myself over this obsession. I know it’s not healthy, so I try to tame it a bit, but I also know denying it is denying myself. Half the reason I do things like NaNoWriMo are because they promote accepting the imperfections in our writing as part of the process. And I need that, even if I fail to complete my story. I’ve been doing it almost every year for twelve years- that’s since I was fifteen! I’ve still got a long way to go, but knowing you have a problem is the first step to solving it, right?

That’s enough rambling for today. Why don’t you tell me some of the things that you’re obsessed with? Or just little pet peeves that drive you wild! I know I can’t be the only person around that can’t focus when certain things aren’t exactly as it feels they should be… Or can I?

Topical Tuesday: Words to Live By

Good morning, lovely readers! It’s been a rough week recently, with issues regarding a new laptop getting to my house. However, the one I’ve been using still works somehow, so let’s use this computer’s old age to talk about today’s topic: wisdom.

More specifically, words of wisdom. You know what they are- those tiny parts of a grandparent’s rambling that seem to describe the meaning of life. That one really good fortune in a fortune cookie that inspired you. It may come from anywhere, but these words are words to live by… And I have some to share as well today.

When I was thirteen, I lived with my aunt for a year. Over that year, she said some remarkable things- and now, having been well over a decade, she doesn’t realize she taught me them when I mention them to her! It’s rather funny, but also helps the words remain deep within my mind. I’m going to share some and why they affected me. Perhaps they’ll affect you too!

  1. “Goals high, expectations low.” – These words SCREAM NaNoWriMo to me. Her point at the time was to cheer me up over something I tried hard at, or at least I think that’s what it was. I don’t remember when I was told exactly, I just know she told me it, and it’s been in my methods as a writer or even as a person ever since.
  2. “Life is a team sport.” – This nugget of wisdom has to do with mental health, which run rampant in our family. For me, what this says is a reminder about how important a good safety net is. Have lots of people to love and who love you back, and you’ll surely find someone that’ll help you in moments of difficulty.

Another line I really like is something that was shared to me in high school by a student teacher. I went to special ed schooling for mentally ill children- but even if we were special needs, our teachers treated us fairly the same, if not better I think. My math teacher was teasing me at the time for turning 18, after we’d just had a financial planning class regarding age of majority. And that’s when my student teacher had this to say:

  1. “The best part about being an adult, is you get really good at being a kid.” – To me, this was more or less a reminder not to lose childish curiosity and to keep being creative. It was something that told me it was okay to not know my path the entire way. It meant so much, I love to share it with youths now that are nervous about becoming adults.

There are plenty of other quotes in my family, but they’re more personal words to live by. Things like “things come in threes” are common in my house and extended family. But one thing my dad always has to remind me is something I think everyone should remember when they’re in a rough spot- and that’s what I want to end on today. So please remember it in times you can’t seem to thrive…

“This too shall pass.”