… you don’t know whether to feel anxiety, anger, or just pure, unadulterated sadness… something was taken from you — something you never even got to hold or call your own.
Like a thief in the night, someone you thought was a friend, who you may have even considered family (or at least with whom you would entertain a long weekend vacation) has betrayed you in ways that can only be described by lyrics written by The Killers.
What is it they’ve done, you ask?
They, be it in hubris or ignorance, ordered the exact dish you planned to order for dinner.
Do they have any decency? Do they not know that there can only be one? They’ve broken the silent contract every group signs by going out to dinner together — the agreement to each order something different, whether to each feel unique or to simply confirm the tastiness of as many dishes on the menu as possible in one sitting. Now, you’ve been relegated to your second choice, and you mutter reluctantly to the server, “I’ll just have the gnocchi.”
Why do we do this to ourselves? In a world full of arbitrary rules, we create even more limitations to keep us from doing what we truly want.
What if, instead of ordering the gnocchi, we threw these unfounded restraints to the wind and decided to double-down on what we really wanted? If Sherryl’s getting the carbonara, and that’s what you wanted, looks like you and Sherryl are having the same thing!
This philosophy (despite the silly example) is counter intuitive for so many of us, because as we grow up, we slowly learn to embrace limitations as a form of decency or a tenet of living right. As a result, the idea of ultimate freedom or even “wealth” is often associated with restraint — the idea that what you don’t do defines your lifestyle: skip Starbucks if you want to buy a house, make your own avocado toast if you want to grow rich, or avoid any and all types of debt at all costs if you want to be wise with your money.
We’ve spent a lot of time attempting to redefine what we view as our limitations. Going back to our rather extreme and ridiculous example at the beginning of this post: what if my limitation at a dinner with friends was not to try something different than what someone else ordered, but instead to try something new to me, because I value trying new foods?
Or what if “decency” to someone is rearranging their budget so that they can spend a bit more money to support local businesses rather than buying things on Amazon? Or what if “living right” for them is deciding that they’d rather drive their dream car than own a larger house? Or consider that perhaps their definition of wealth is not about investing in a private school education for their children, but rather choosing to travel a few times a year so they can see the world?
Any of these simple ideas may come across as foolish, idiotic, or borderline offensive to some, but maybe that’s the point of aligning our values and desires with our actions. Rather than shaping our line of thinking and mode of operation with others’ definition of conventional decision-making, we feel there’s a lot of value in finding a rhythm that makes us move and leaning into it even more.
Now, these are a lot of seemingly big ideas for the simple things that bring us here today: trench coats. We can’t get enough of them, whether they be vintage, brand new, color blocked, beige, water proof, or one Anna bought 7 years ago from H&M and can’t stop wearing. We. Love. Trenches.
As ridiculous as that sounds in light of the dramatic intro above, trench coats, for us, are very emblematic of exactly what we’re talking about.
You see, these sort of restraints leak slowly into different areas of our lives — even our personal style.
We are told that our wardrobe needs to be versatile, or trendy, or that we need to create a uniform, or that vintage pieces are better because they come from a time when clothes were “garments”. Whatever the case, there are an insane amount of rules for something both as practical and personal as getting dressed.
One of these rules, we all told ourselves long ago, was that we couldn’t have too much of one thing in our closet. Do you really need another denim jacket if you have three already? Should you really invest in a pair of light wash jeans when that’s all you wear now? How many pairs of loafers do you need?
These are not bad questions to ask in and of themselves, but they are typically asked with the same faulty assumption as our ridiculous dinner scenario: that having multiples of one thing is wasteful, unwise, or needless. While we would obviously never advocate for wastefulness or unnecessary excess — which is a rampant problem in a world of lightning quick trend cycles and even faster fashion — and while this assumption can be true, it shouldn’t be the sole lens through which we view stocking our closet.
Instead of cynically asking yourself, “do you really need another one of these?” Ask yourself, “do you love this enough to wear it to threads even if you have other versions of it?” This mindset is not necessarily about prioritizing the restraint, it’s about emphasizing what you already know you actually love (and as a result, spending your money more wisely on things you’ll actually wear, rather than things you think you should own, and ultimately creating less waste down the road). Sure, you may own 3 denim jackets now, but for someone who wears denim jackets nearly every day, that might make more sense than having a faux leather jacket collecting dust in their closet!
There is a lot of value in versatility, or in trying to create a “uniform” for yourself, but only if you value those things. This same idea can translate to some of the ideas mentioned above. “Do you really need to go on another trip?” Perhaps a better question is, “If travel is the most important thing to you, then why are you spending so much on rent?”
Now, before we get too lost in the weeds here: we have no desire to tell you how to spend your money. Actually, quite the opposite. If you want a house, prioritize it! If you want to travel, spend the year spanning the globe! You want to own a dozen trench coats (we’re not there yet, but we’re on our way), be our guest! The point of this post is not to be your financial advisor or even to encourage you to spend more, but instead to hopefully help us all consider why we do what we do, and whether you’re really doing what you really want.
Why? Because the other day Anna wanted to buy a trench coat with some money she got for Christmas, and she turned to me (Nathan) and said, “I love this trench coat, but do I really need another one?” In that moment it hit me: I watch Anna wear trench coats nearly year round. “Another one” — as we often say with disdain in our voices — might be wasted on someone, but it would not be wasted on her, because she loves them and wears them and keeps them for years. I could encourage her to try something else, but why try the gnocchi if she knows she really wants the carbonara?
Instead, when you love something, double down on it. Go for it all the way. Reorient your actions around doing that thing more. Where some may see excess, you’ll actually see simplification, contentment, and making the most for yourself out of the resources you have. The “gnocchi” ain’t bad, but investing in what you already want and love and know you’ll use may be a better choice for you!
Now if we can just start to apply that mindset to more important things than pasta and laundry, we’ll really onto something!