My disability is that I abhor variety.
I’ve been doing a lot of research lately on the roots of being a better person all around. Not just a better person to those around me—I actually think I have that covered. I have come to realize I need to work on my own self. Getting back to my own roots of seeking out intelligent content about the whole world I live in. Things on happiness, being an extremely critical thinker, being centered, what my creativity means to me.
One maxim that has come up a few times is that variety and novelty is something a well-rounded person seeks out to continually better themselves in whatever endeavors make up their lives. This applies to creative work but can be expanded to one’s continual growth in interaction with any mechanism of the world.
One should seek out novelty. One should try new things—contrary things, really. Apply oneself to things completely outside of where one has trained themselves to go.
When I am relaxed, on my own, and learning about the world, I do all of this. I’ve always learned to be able to take all sides of an argument. I’ve learned that I am my best creatively when I am unafraid of making a complete mess. In certain containers, this is me, and it works.
However, this only works for me in contained spaces with defined (figurative) walls.
For the bulk of my life, I cannot handle variety. Novelty I can absorb, and maybe there is a difference between variety and novelty. I see “novelty” as the stuff of thought experiments, which do go beyond my brain to be applied to my own world.
But “variety” I see as living my life in foreign spaces, purposely or because I was thrust into such. This is where my OCD kicks in. I am obsessed with routine. I fully admit this. This is an obsession that ties together everything that leads to happiness for me. I am attracted to stasis. I need stasis.
I observe the stereotypical social architecture that it seems people value. I never fully know how true these values are, but if you take an example of dating profiles, you always hear the term “spontaneous” in a glowing light. People are considered better people if they seek out variety.
Looking through this lens may be a bit of an oversimplification of the values of the social structure I am within, but I am sure that variety is indeed valued above the opposite, which is often described in negative terms such as “mundane” and “the usual.”
It is not that I happen to enjoy the mundane, my brain just happens to work best within it. My brain itself thinks of the novel just as it thinks of the routine. However, I am best served when the world around me is working in the same way as it did last time and the time before.
I happen to love rote tasks. I love work that is rote. I love constantly bettering myself while doing rote work. My OCD needs rote, as when all of the variety is dampened, only then can I fully let my brain out to think, to structure that which I wish to create, and expand.
If I am placed somewhere foreign, I obsess over that. I obsess over how I can build a routine in this new environment. I obsess over right and wrong. My OCD is focused at the surface level of my environment. And I hate it because I am a deep thinker.
I hate it because I can’t think like I know I can and how I enjoy thinking. That circles back to thinking in novel forms. Which I want to do, but with my OCD I need everything around me to not be novel. The more predictable everything around me is, the more space I have to expand my thinking.
Yes, I would go as far as saying this is how my OCD has forced me to feel what is and is not safe. I am not saying that being in a foreign situation borne out of variety is harmful to me. It is just not helpful. And it consumes me. And with my OCD, if something consumes me, it really consumes me.
I would say this is a handicap of sorts. I should be able to experience variety in a positive manner. But I cannot. My OCD won’t allow it. Thus I seek out stasis. Or, if you wish, the mundane.
So I can work on not being mundane.