I was introduced to the author Alain de Botton many years ago, and I have always enjoyed his combination of wit and insight in discussing culture, philosophy, art, and other topics. But I was not aware that he was also an entertaining public speaker. In this video, he discusses the western world’s preoccupation with status and status symbols. This particularly touches home for me, as I think my interest in fashion, appearing well-dressed, etc. comes from an insecurity about my background. (It also doesn’t help to watch episodes of “What Not to Wear” and become paranoid that somehow the way you are dressing/styling your hair/applying makeup is holding you back from realizing your true potential. Eeek! Thanks, Stacy London.)
I come from a particularly modest background, and it was a little traumatic to go away to college at 18 and study in a field/department that was almost exclusively enrolled in by students from a wealthier background (music performance). Maybe that sounds silly, but when you are living in grinding poverty, and all of your friends and peers are sashaying around spending money right and left and making a number of different decisions than you can afford to…..after awhile, I felt like I got a chip on my shoulder, or at least fairly defensive about my own life choices. I feel like at the end of the day the life decisions I’ve made have had positive outcomes for me, if at times uncomfortable or unpopular, but I still have that underlying inferiority complex that will take a bit longer, I think, to unravel and let go of. Minimalism in the sense of deliberately owning very little has forced me, in a good way, to examine these attitudes more closely, and to resolve some of the feelings I have about material goods vs. actual happiness with myself and my choices.
At any rate, watch the video and tell me what you think!