I Am Obsessed with How Deep My Vocabulary Is

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I spend most of my free time watching videos on the internet meant to stimulate my overall view of the world. I’m pretty picky about what channels and sites I view videos from. I stay away from clickbait, though my tastes are not that obscure. There is smart stuff on the internet, you just have to dig for it (and then organize it relentlessly for future viewing.)

I take a lot of notes when watching these videos, as I’d like to try to find ways to apply novel angles of view about the world into my own life. Funny thing: I don’t watch a lot about OCD. I find that here in the US, content on OCD is very lacking. That is completely for another article.

Beyond comparing my worldview to the particular slices of worldview in these videos, I also find myself obsessed with the specific words used by the various narrators. Narrators I generally have or gain a lot of respect for.

I then obsess over my lexicon used in various things I write or even just speak (in public or private settings.)

I’ve noticed that any time someone uses a word that encapsulates a very large concept, I sort of feel jealous that this word is not part of my normal vocabulary. I shouldn’t feel this way, I should just enjoy the opportunity to add great words to my arsenal. Rather, I think back at the massive amount of writing I’ve already done and felt it is most likely missing great words.

Now, I don’t mean words that are used just to make me feel smart. I stopped doing that more than fifteen years ago when I was a political writer for various newspapers. I just mean as I write I am often stuck trying to find a single word (or a few words) to convey a large concept.

Just today I heard the word “pregnant” used in a beautiful and novel way. Referring to a large amount of some intangible stuff that is waiting to burst out into the world. “Pregnant with ideas about such-and-such” was the essence of the phrase.

Why don’t I use this word in this way? Or, a worse thought: where should I have used this word in past writings? That is the thought that comes to mind.

I believe deeply in the concept of “motivated dissatisfaction.” Something I’d like to expand on more on its own. The core principle here is that I am always dissatisfied with my work. And this dissatisfaction motivates me to do better. This applies to every single thing I do, and I would consider it a core of who I am. (It is why everyone thinks I am excessively negative about anything I take seriously.)

This concept is not just about always considering how you can do things better. That comes automatically with the human condition. It is a specific thought pattern where you can appreciate the work you do, but end with being dissatisfied with any new work to a degree that you know it could have been done better. This does not require one to constantly revise their work. That could be a part of this ideology, but that could also lead to spending way too much energy reworking.

Rather, the idea is you take that dissatisfaction and keep it in mind as you move on to new work.

Now, in terms of specific words, I started keeping a list of words I’d like to use more. It isn’t fully up to date and is constantly evolving. But I’ll let you in on it. Copied and pasted from my notes:


Now, this is the point where I conclude the writing on this subject. It may or may not be witty to try to use a word I’ve been itching to use.

But I won’t.

I’d like to remain dissatisfied with this work.

And I am.