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The Truth About the Fact: An International Journal of Literary Nonfiction

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The Truth About the Fact: A Journal of Literary Nonfiction is an international journal committed to the idea that excellence in the art of letters can play a vital role in transforming the planet we share.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Addictions, Habits and Everything in Between

It is difficult to draw the line between a good addiction, a bad addiction, a good habit, and a bad habit. In fact, I would argue it is even impossible to draw this line between the four because that would mean everyone would have to agree on one definition for each. Addictions and habits are subjective, until they become destructive.

What do I mean by this? I mean that it is up to the person to determine whether they have an addiction or habit, unless of course it is blatantly obvious to the public that the person is unable to make the decision themselves for physical or psychological reasons. For example, one may not think they are addicted to working out, but if their body looks others wise (too skinny, fatigued, frail), then their health will speak for itself. Or if a person does not think they are addicted to their significant other, but their social and work life have drastically plummeted, those results would also speak for themselves.

Nadine Elise Jenson is a 21-year-old Senior English major from Camarillo, Calif., at Loyola Marymount University. While reading and writing has always been a passion for Jenson, her primary infatuation in life is ballet. With 13 years of experience and a drive that grows by the day, Jenson hopes to join a prestigious dance company in Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, or New York when she graduates.

What does a schedule of a full time student pursuing ballet look like? Hell. On top of her eight classes (yes, eight), Jenson drives to a Russian ballet school around 45 minutes away from campus every day between classes. Every day. Its location is none other than the infuriatingly hectic area of Wilshire and La Brea in Los Angeles. Over the weekend’s one would think Jenson takes the time to do as the majority of college students do, “chill out,” but on the contrary, she spends ten hours more at the dance studio.

In Jenson’s case, her good habit is what has caused her bad habit, which further proves my hypothesis of this huge amount of gray area when it comes to good addictions, bad addictions, good habits, and bad habits. Jenson’s good habit is going to dance every day, even when she is stressed out of her mind, because she knows it will be worth it in the long run. However, Jenson also admits that her bad habits come from always going to dance and not knowing her limits.

“I let myself get anxious. I need to not to beat myself up when I can’t go to ballet,” Jenson’s blue eyes scan the desk as she shakes her head in agreement with her statement. She continues, “It is really unhealthy and unrealistic. My ballet school puts that kind of pressure on me. Finding the balance and having the dignity to not feel like crap is difficult. I just can’t hate myself and my life because someone makes me feel guilty.”

While this might sound like Jenson has an addiction to attending dance and pleasing both dance teachers and English professors, I would argue that she is not addicted. What is addicted really mean anyway? According to, addiction means “the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma.”            

As I previously stated, it is hard to judge whether someone is addicted to something or not, or whether their habit is a good one or not. The definition above clarifies a bit for us, but the variables are vague and subjective to each person.

I am not a doctor, nor do I have the authority to diagnose anything on anyone; however, I can state with confidence that Jenson is not addicted (in the negative sense, which the definition itself implies that it is always negative to be addicted to something) to ballet. Why? Because she has recognized how attending ballet has affected her life and clearly stated that she needs and is going to take time to balance ballet and school; therefore, she is aware of the consequences of both her good and bad habit.

Addictions and habits are tricky. My best advice when it comes to this topic is if you are questioning your stance on a relationship with a possible bad addiction or habit, ask yourself: Am I dependent on this “thing” (person, behavior, substance) to go about my daily life? What happens to me if I don’t have this “thing?” What can I do to create a healthier, less dependent relationship with this “thing?” Be honest with yourself with these responses because you have the best judgment of  how outer “things” affect you physically and psychologically. 

Alexandria Rousset


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