Life is nothing if you are not obsessed.
The famous late nineteenth-century writer Franz Kafka once counseled, “Follow your most intense
obsessions mercilessly.” Although his advice seems to be a simple call for following our passions, it
can easily lead us astray. After all, Shakespeare’s Hamlet was haunted by “what dreams may come
after we have shuffled off this mortal coil,” Oscar Wilde’s Dorian Gray was tormented by his fear of
losing beauty, and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Jay Gatsby was destroyed by his preoccupation with wealth
and the past. Thus, obsession causes us to lose control, such that we hurt those we love, have
unwanted sexual thoughts, and are driven by our need for perfection. The fast-paced, competitive
21st-century environment forces us to further question the wisdom of his words. But before we can
pass judgment on the validity of Kafka’s advice, we must first define this unique phenomenon called
What is the nature of obsession? Where do we draw the line between passion and obsession? Is
obsession a necessity for creativity and dedication or a mental disorder? Which one is essential in
the context of a student, passion or obsession? Are they complement or independent to each other?
An obsession is “recurrent and persistent thoughts, urges, or images that are experienced, at some
time during the disturbance as intrusive and inappropriate, and that cause marked anxiety and
distress.” Using simple definition, obsession is the domination of one’s thoughts or feelings by a
persistent idea, image, desire, etc. For example obsession towards someone leads us to deep
affection towards him or her, indescribable urge to see his or her figure everyday and other things
which closely related to that person of which if we do not commit any, will give us certain anxiety,
stress and pressure. On the other hand passions can be described as energy that can fuel a project.
With these two definitions, passion and obsession do play different role and exudes different effect
on us. However, how do we make use of both to accelerate and catalyse ourselves to achieve things
that we want in life?
How to become obsess in something that you do? First is to do something with passion. Passion and
obsession do interrelate with each other. Sometimes we need help finding our passions. But this is a
paradoxical concept. The more we try to force passion, the less likely we are to discover it for
ourselves. Making yourself think about passion won’t get you there! There is no magic bullet. Lots of
people don’t take time to self-reflect on what their reasons and motives are in pursuing a passion.
This can be part of the process of pursuing a goal driven by passion. Every so often, assess your
interior monologue. How high is your enthusiasm for your goals? How high are your energy levels in
terms of following your passion? Do you feel joy when you engage with your work, or do you feel
negative, compulsive emotions?
Next step is to turn your passion into obsession. Discovering your passion might take you a while.
However, it is worth to bear in mind that others might take longer or even shorter time to find their
passion, or maybe they do not find it at all. The key to this is patience and keep discovering your
talent and capabilities. Learn to understand what you like to do and start from there. It may sound
easy, but once you started you will notice how fickle your desire and intuition is. Once you have
found your passion , follow it until a problem starts to emerge. This is the moment when your
obsession starts to ignite. A big meaty challenging problem that impacts as many people as possible,
that you feel hellbent to solve or die trying. It might take years to find that problem, because you
have to explore different bodies of knowledge, collect the dots and then connect and complete
In the quest of finding your passion which will lead to you become obsessed in what you are doing, it
is imperative for you to set some limit on your obsession. When we are no longer placing our
obsession at the right place, it will start to control you. Obsession becomes the master of your own
game. We are no longer feel secure in who we are and start comparing ourselves with others. When
we are ahead we may feel proud, but when we are behind we would feel jealous. You want your
goal so much that you don’t want others to get it. This kind of obsession would no longer lead you to
your own success but towards your own self-defensiveness. You don’t like to see other become
more superior to you and you might try some nasty stuff to bring him or her down. Obsession is an
important element in success, but if you don’t control it wisely you might fall in your own trap. All in
all, in whatever you are doing, do not forget to seek His blessing to ensure that you would not
diverge too much from the right path and never stop discovering new things as long as they are not
irreconcilable from your principles.