Passion, Perfection… Obsession?

OK, so a big shocker, I‘ve been studying a lot lately. Like, really a lot, for a non-midterm/finals time, at least. This all week it actually was pretty much just this one subject – Physical Chemistry of Proteins (I‘m sorry, but what kind of scientist I would be if I didn‘t throw in at least a couple big words). That‘s the toughest class this semester. I have a lot of trouble understanding it. So much so that at times I‘m actually at a loss as to how formulate a question to ask the teacher when something is unclear. And not understanding something is one of the things I hate most. And that makes me angry. And then a funny thing happens. I can‘t stand the situation, so I need to remedy that. Since I don‘t give up on things I really care about (like my studies), the only way out for me is studying. Studying. And then studying some more. Sometimes going as far back as the very basic concepts of the subject and working my way up, until I can at least formulate a coherent question to the teacher. That‘s what I‘ve been doing this whole week. I actually couldn‘t wait for other classes to be over so I could go home and study. I‘m glad I did it, however, because it paid off – I now have a pretty clear view as to what‘s actually happening in those classes and my head buzzing with questions (well, the latter isn‘t true – I try to keep my hard-drive uncluttered, so I just write all of the questions down so I don‘t need to think and remind myself of them until I can ask the teacher). Oh, but I‘ve got carried away there. Sorry. There‘s supposed to be a point in this, right?

It‘s pretty simple (yet, disturbing me slightly) – I‘m kind of obsessive. I‘m kind of glad (OK, really glad) when this trait of mine comes out in situations like I just described, because this anger, obsession and will power combo really works well for me when studying. However, I don‘t necessarily need anger. Most often the main driving force is this sort of perfectionism, this need (passion?) to know things (top marks make for a nice by-product and confirmation of my knowledge). On the other hand, doesn‘t this make me a little crazy? Especially when this obsessive thing rears its head in other areas of my life? Like, say, me liking to have all my clothes and my notes and even the plates in the cupboard just so. At one point tidiness (for the lack of a better word) turns to OCD? I guess, as long as it‘s not controlling me, I‘m OK, right?

Let me make a little side note on will power here. I have a friend who often tells me what amazing will power I have that I manage to make myself work on my studies so much. That is really flattering, but I‘m not sure how much credit my will power actually deserves. Often, I just can‘t help it – I have to study, because I have to learn, to know, to understand (that sounds so crazy now I say it!). However, sometimes, when it‘s not a really fascinating subject and there‘s a choice between studying that and doing something more enjoyable (even if it is studying something else), I need to pull together my will power too, but it‘s always aided by this strange want for perfection. OK, let‘s face it, it‘s not always the knowledge, I‘ve gotten a taste for top grades over the years too, and I like getting them. To my defence, however, I haven‘t been focusing on grades that much since I started university, because I came here to learn stuff that I find interesting, and often I even choose a harder subject which would mean worse grades just because I want to learn that stuff.

I guess some people would find it crazy – this want to reach perfection and the need to know more and more. I mean, perfection is like infinity – you can’t reach it. And yet, people, me included, try anyway. I think, we’re being smart, because we’re not setting limits to ourselves, and don’t need to waste time putting that hypothetical top step higher every time we reach it. Don’t get me wrong, I think, reachable goals are important, and I’d be a just a crazy mess without them, but for the ultimate goal something close to perfection in whatever area one works at is the best choice. However, in all this, I think, healthy view of things is of the utmost importance. For example, realising that a homework essay doesn’t need to be perfected to infinity. For one thing, if you try to make that essay perfect, you’ll probably fail at all the other homework assignments and won’t get any sleep, and who cares if it’s perfect anyway? Teachers have grading scales and this hypothetical perfect essay won’t get a better evaluation than one that just meets all the requirements. On the other hand, for a scientist to strive for something Nobel-prize-worthy, I think, is a good thing because that would be a really cool thing that could help make life easier for a lot of people (or something).

I like to chase rainbows,

Noodle.

P.S. Speaking of obsession, I’m way obsessed with Glee lately. Especially with this thing with Kurt and him getting a boyfriend. Can we have Kurt&Sam now, please?

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3 responses to “Passion, Perfection… Obsession?

  1. Well that was kind of weird… Reading a description of me written by and about someone else! 😮
    I totally follow you in everything you say here. However, awesome you, you seem to have a bit more healthy approach to things than me… Some kind of rational control of yourself or something?
    I mean, your last example about the hypothetical essay… I, rationally, totally agree with you. But I am still unable to stop myself from perfecting that damned stupid essay! Even though I know there is no reason to 😦

    Your other example about your friend applauding you for your will power…
    I seriously absolutely hate (this is something I have thought about a lot!) when others compliment me on my will power or my “great” work ethics or my gumption or my “strength”.
    Both because it is those comments that have always made me feel like there are so many expectations to live up to, and also because I really don’t deserve it since all of these “positive traits” are only consequences of FEAR! My fear of failure and judgement is what makes me (and has always made me) work hard! So I feel really aweful and undeserving when people compliment me on those things…
    (I am not at all saying that it is in any way the same for you!! Just wanted to say that I know that feeling of when others find you brave and hard-working or whatever, and you feel like that is not really what it is about…

    Bla bla bla Nicole 🙂 …. My point: Great post Noodle!

    • OK, so I know this is a month later, but my blog has been slipping my mind for weeks (must be those darn midterms occupying my entire brain), anyway. Yeah, I agree that a healthy approach to things is important – I struggle with that sometimes myself, but thankfully I have someone who helps me a lot with it. And in the end I’m happy about the work (and how much of it) I do, and I hope that so are you 🙂

  2. Aaaand… My perfection makes me want to comment that I know I misspelled “awful” just there… I always want to put an E in there, but that is incorrect 🙂

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