I’ve always had many reasons for refusing to keep up with my peers, but the other day one of the main reasons came into clear focus for me. (Quite literally because it involved buying glasses. That’s my attempt at humor today, folks.) Anyway, I had to buy new glasses so after my eye appointment I went into the optical shop to look around. The lady came out and offered to help me choose some new frames. After we went through a few pairs, she pulls one out and says, “This is the one that everyone gets. It’s very popular. You’ll fit right in with everyone else.” (As if I were fifteen and seeking to fit in in high school.)
I tried it on and guess what: It looked exactly like every other pair of glasses I’ve seen around town lately. Dark and heavy frame, square cut, big earpieces, you get the idea. Now, I understand the power of trends but I’ve never been one to follow them, particularly when they are as unflattering on me as these frames were. They were also the most expensive pair I looked at that day. Coincidence? I doubt it.
I ended up choosing a pair that is slightly funky looking and looks nothing like anything I’ve seen before. They flatter my face and they were reasonably priced. They were also shoved in a dusty corner of the display. Clearly everyone else went for the trendy frames and left these alone. Once again, I was not going to be keeping up with the Joneses and their trendy glasses. What’s funny is that these overlooked, ignored, sad little frames have received more compliments than any other pair I’ve owned. People tell me how good they look, how unique they are, and they want to know where they can get them, too. Heaven forbid I should start a trend.
The point of this tale is that, because I don’t keep up with everyone else, I not only save money but I remain true to my personality. I bought those glasses because I liked them and they looked good on me. They suited my unique style and personality. Had I bought the popular pair I’d have ended up looking just like everyone else. I bought my home because I loved it and I furnished it with things that I love. I may not have granite or stainless steel, or the right paint colors, but I have a home that is a unique expression of my personal taste, not a home that looks like every other model home in the world. My clothes are not trendy, but they suit me and my personal style. My car isn’t one of the popular models or colors, but I like it and it’s paid for. When I buy things I don’t ask myself, “Will the neighbors like it, or will my coworkers approve?”, I ask myself, “Do I love it and is it me?”
I’ve never understood the fun in looking like everyone else and owning the same things as everyone else. Once we leave high school our of days trying to hide our true identity in order to fit in ought to be over. I don’t think you can have a happy life until you can acknowledge and embrace who you are and what you like, even if that goes against what is popular and trendy. When you try to fit in too much, you lose touch with your own individuality. It’s like that scene in the movie “Runaway Bride” where the main character has to sit down with plates of eggs made every way possible to determine how she really likes her eggs. She’d spent her life matching her egg tastes to those of others and she’d forgotten how she really liked her eggs. When you own things just because everyone else owns them, you forget what products, colors, and styles really bring you joy.
Keeping up with the Joneses not only costs you money, it can cost you something more precious: Your uniqueness. Keep up for too long and you may just lose touch with what you really love and what makes you special. When you have the chance, don’t just follow the herd. Break out and be yourself. It will probably save you money and make you happier.