When I was a wee junior in high school, Creighton came to visit my high school for our college fair. Having recognized it as a school in the Big East, which is the conference full of Jesuit schools, my mom told me to look at their brochure.
That day I was interested in one thing and that thing was the fat bill I’d be hit with every semester.
After seeing the absolute steal that an in-state education would get me, I took one look at Creighton’s tuition plus room and board price tag and let out a squeak. That’s a hard pass, especially at that price.
However, as you could probably guess by my writing this article and my title not saying “Guest Columnist,” it’s fair to assume that I am currently attending Creighton University, and you would be correct in assuming that.
So, what changed between then and when I made my decision to choose Creighton? Well, a lot of things.
One, I learned about this nifty perk called scholarships. Two, I learned the accounting program was pretty good. Three, I wanted to stand out.
Coming from Dallas, the prospect of going to school in Nebraska was something my friends constantly picked on me for, which was surprisingly ironic when some of those same people would go to school in St. Louis.
Have any of y’all driven through Missouri? It’s not exactly paradise either.
That aside, there was something about being able to say I go to school in Nebraska that attracted me. In short, wanting to be unique drove me to choose Creighton.
While I do partially contribute my drive to succeed in everything I do on this trait of mine, trying to stand out and impress people isn’t all that it may seem.
The desire to have hyper niche hobbies and surround oneself with other semi-interesting factoids inherently has a side effect of increased social isolation, decreasing one’s ability to be relatable. Those TV shows or movies about famous people who feel lonely are not empty attempts at gaining sympathy.
For example, I get the majority of my music from Spotify’s Discover Weekly playlist, which provides listeners with thirty songs from relatively unknown artists every week. I’ve grown to enjoy deep cuts the most.
Because of this, I’ve grown accustomed to never knowing what any artist may have released. I don’t listen to artists specifically, which has left me out of the loop in regard to many new album releases or any other conversations surrounding popular artists.
However, even this example is a micro niche, and it isn’t entirely reflective of why I wanted to talk about uniqueness. Instead, I wanted to bring it up because one of the side effects I’ve experienced is an increased possessiveness towards these different items and, in particular, TV shows and movies.
A couple years ago, I created a spreadsheet like a true business student that contained information on every show I had ever watched. In this spreadsheet, I have two columns that represent the audience score and the number of voters. I keep track of the latter not only so that I can give context to the former but also so that I can judge the nicheness of whatever I’ve watched.
However, many of the shows I watch, regardless of the number of voters, don’t have active communities anymore. There is a sense of uniqueness simply because I’m the only one watching it currently.
This all changes though when the almighty algorithms recommend me YouTube videos about shows I’ve recently seen. It is in these moments that I have that feeling of possessiveness, a feeling that this TV show or movie was mine first despite an entire community of fans coming before me.
For some reason, I can almost never bring myself to watch these videos. In many ways, the social isolation is self-inflicted.
After reading all of this though, you may be wondering how this may apply to you at all, so I implore you to join me in my psychiatrist armchair as we psychoanalyze what the implications of this are.
There is a degree to which the things we care about most are things we don’t want shared.
Although I described the shows I’ve watched above as merely niche and unpopular, these attributes are what make me assign them a certain value, which then makes them endearing. It’s not something I can just part with and let everyone one else partake in.
In the same way, there may be something in your life that for one reason or another makes you assign it an extra amount of value whether it be a childhood pet, a partner, a favorite cup that you drink out of, your car, or any other thing. There are some things that you won’t compromise on because they mean something extra.
For me, things that I find unique and special often mean more to me, and for that reason, I may become overly defensive of it even if it means socially isolating myself.
On the other hand, I could still just be that kid in the sandbox who doesn’t want to share his favorite dump truck with Susan’s ugly face. It’s my dump truck, and you have your own shovel. Despite what it may be, I’m going to chalk it up to me being my most unique self.