This showed up this afternoon from a reader named Krsna.
Let me thank you for the recent post about prioritizing quality purchases. I’ve never been anything close to wealthy in my life. I’m the son of an immigrant that raised five kids on her own without even a high school degree; my mom is basically a superhero. Just going to college probably cost me more in debt than I’ve ever made in my life and my college debt is jokingly small compared to most.
My mom, the daughter of a seamstress, always tried her best to make us look respectable. She was always of the belief that being poor was not what made us, it was not our identity. We may have made a lot less than lawyers or doctors, but it did not mean we should not expect and deserve the same amount of respect.
So whenever it was time to buy clothes, which if we were lucky was twice a year, it would mean getting a good shirt and a good pairs of pants. Or if a birthday came around a nice perfume bought on sale would be given: it would be so carefully watched over to last for years. Any person looking closely would see frayed collars, worn out colors and threadbare fabric, but nonetheless the thought was there that we had something good, even if in small amounts. It was never an attempt to feign wealth or deceive others, but to project that were people that carried ourselves with dignity. Poverty, as devastating as it can be, would not make us think less of ourselves. We were not going to and never have fulfilled any stereotype of what having less money is supposed to be.
It is not yet possible , but if the chance arises for me to buy a $5,000 suit I will think nothing of it either, because it is not only worth it, but because it would mean something to me, it would mean I am worth it as well. That’s the heart of it for me, buying clothes because it is of great quality has a meaning behind it. You are honoring the craftsman, you are honoring others by presenting yourself seriously and you are honoring yourself by dressing in a way that commands respect. My Brazilian mother, again a hero, once said to me in Portuguese “It’s not a sin to be poor.” By buying the best we can with what we have, we are affirming that statement.