Yesterday, I went to buy myself some new glasses. My previous ones had slid off the motorcycle when I was taking off my helmet and landed right underneath my partner’s foot. Classic communication error combined with some bad luck. The back-up ones I have been wearing as a temporary replacement are several years old and remind me of a horse’s blinkers. The wide frames stop me from seeing to the sides and create blindspots making them extremely uncomfortable and even dangerous in traffic. So new glasses were needed, there was no question about that. But which ones to choose?
I adored the design of the previous frames I had. They were relatively big, a mix of black and gold, and accentuated my eyebrows and cheekbones extremely well. When picking those out a couple of years ago, I had already lost all hope of finding frames I loved. I was about to walk out of the store when I suddenly noticed *those* frames. It was truly love at first sight.
And just as it happens with love and a heart that has not been broken, I was kind of stuck in my previous “partner”. I would have liked to just get the same frames again. Perhaps I could have even replaced the glasses themselves, but the frames were too old and the paint had come off here and there. It would not have been practical anymore. However, I felt rather stubborn and stuck with the idea of getting frames as similar as possible to my previous ones.
Throughout the years, I have had various different types of glasses – plastic, metal, thin, wide, with and without nose pads, colourful and bland. Through experimenting, I have come to learn what I like and dislike about different frames. As this was not my first rodeo, I formulated a list of requirements for my new glasses:
- Slim frames on the slide so that they would not cause blindspots and make me dangerous in traffic.
- Big glasses for a wide visual field independent of the angle I am looking at. My back-up glasses are thin, making everything on the top and bottom parts of my field of view blurry. To see sharp, I have to bob my whole head, not only my eyes. Plus, although slim, the frame is still always in my sight. Not very convenient.
- Nose pads holding the frames securely in place. I once had plastic frames without the nose pads and they were always sliding around my face whenever I moved my head. Absolutely impossible to do any sports with. Not that I do a lot of sports, of course, but, you know, I might.
- Dark or strong colour to frame my pale face and accentuate my eyes.
With this list in hand, it was time to hit the stores! I discovered that the salespeople were very eager to help me. Nothing out of the ordinary, they always ask whether they could help the customer. However, a new revelation for me was that I do not really enjoy being served frames left and right when shopping for glasses. Especially when I am not 100% sure what kind I want. So I made an excuse to leave the first store to escape the kind and trying-to-be-helpful-but-causing-me-stress-instead agent.
In the following stores (yes, I went to SIX stores! and yes, I had to split from my partner after the third store because he was suffering greatly, crashing on benches and seats at each new shop whilst letting out tortured sighs), I was already smarter. When the clerks approached me, I told them I preferred to explore on my own and that I would turn to them if I needed help. This worked much better. I could wander around the store, try on different frames and see what I liked.
And boy, did I like! Although I had started this journey with a bee in the bonnet about getting frames as similar to the ones I had just broken, at some point I thought, “Why not try on something that I would never buy or try? Just for fun. For stepping outside my comfort zone. Perhaps I’ll like it?” So I started picking up alternative types of frames. Ones with funky patterns. Ones with extravagant colours. Ones with circular shapes. Angular shapes. Narrow ones, wide ones, small ones, large ones. And they weren’t half bad!
Did it make shopping for new glasses more fun? Yes. Did it make shopping for new glasses any easier? Not at all. Suddenly, I had so much more choice. I walked through the stores and took pictures of the frames I liked so I could find them afterwards. I ended up with a pile of photos. Now I had to choose one.
I turned it into a game of “Who wants to be a millionaire?”. I had three lifelines: 50/50, phone a friend, and ask the audience. I started by eliminating the frames I did not feel super passionate about. This cut the choice down greatly. I ended up with three potential frames from two adjacent stores. Next, I turned to the cashiers for a round of ‘ask the audience’. With their help, I came down to two frames in two stores.
Now I had a dilemma. Both frames were nice. One was dark blue and thin with big glasses, an interesting side, and minimalistic accentuating details in the outer corners. These looked sort of like my previous ones, only slightly different and in another colour. If I had picked these ones, I could also have checked my eyes with the optometrist immediately. I would only have had to return to the store to pick up the glasses in three weeks or so. However, these frames were rather expensive and the glasses themselves weren’t especially cheap either.
The other frames were black and gold – the same colour as my previous ones. They were even bigger and had a really interesting pattern on the side and the topmost corner. Absolutely mesmerising. These were also very cheap. The bottom part of the frame was completely golden – something I would not have chosen by default since I have always felt that light colours do not frame my face well enough. With these ones I would have had to come back the following day to have my eyes checked and that just sounded like a hassle.
I was completely unable to pick between those two frames. I loved them both. I wanted them both. But there was no reason to get both. So I used up my last lifeline which was phoning a friend. I called someone who has always been there for me, who knows what I need even when I myself do not, and who I can always count on for advice. I called my mum.
She looked at the photos of those frames, listened to my description and thoughts, and told me that it does not matter which ones she recommends because, in the end, I would decide for myself anyway. But she preferred the blue ones.
So I went and got the blue ones. I had my eyes checked and the optometrist said my eyes were the same as they were five years ago (yay!). I paid and I got the receipt and walked home and…
I could not get the other frames out of my mind. I spent the whole day thinking about those frames. I was not dissatisfied with the blue ones I got. Those were terrific. I just wanted both of them. So I argued with myself and it went something like this:
“On the one hand, I already bought the blue glasses.”
“On the other hand, I really liked the golden frames, too.”
“On the other hand, how many pairs of glasses does a person need?!”
“On the other hand, if we are to look at how careless I can be with my things and how they tend to break, it would not be a bad idea to have another pair of glasses as a back-up.”
“On the other hand, why should I waste my money?”
“On the other hand, money comes, money goes. My happiness should be what matters.”
“On the other hand, basing my happiness on material things is no good either.”
“On the other hand, perhaps those frames are no longer there anyway, and that would immediately solve my dilemma!”
Well, that sounded like a plan already! Today, I strolled back into the store. The frames were still there and the saleswoman recognised me. I grabbed the frames, tried them on once more and bought them. Since I had my eyes measured yesterday, I did not have to book an appointment for the optometrist either. I walked home rather happily and with a grin on my face, even though it was raining.
What am I trying to say with this story? Several things actually. First, don’t be afraid of trying new things, be it glasses or food or activity or just about anything. Sometimes, you may fall in love with something you would have otherwise excluded. Plus, trying new things widens one’s worldview and is just plain fun.
Second, don’t get stuck in this classic money-materialism mumbo-jumbo. Yes, minimalism is cool and all and unnecessary spending and consumerism are bad for the planet, but unless you are broke as hell, counting every penny is just silly. Of course, one should always be careful with personal finances. However, when it comes to spending 30 minutes reading the price tags for raw pasta to find the one with the cheapest kilo price (and doing the same for every other item in the shopping list), one seriously needs to reassess their priorities. And I can say that because I have been there, picking less tasty food purely because it is cheaper and looking longingly at items I would love to try but feel like I shouldn’t because, you know, I am supposed to save, not spend. But that’s a whole other story. The main thing is that life is so short that we should be obliged to enjoy it. Treat yourself. You deserve it.
Third, gut stuff is “gut” stuff. And by “gut” I mean “good” in German. A classic recommendation is to “sleep on it” before making a decision to avoid the initial impulse and find some clarity about the matter. I slept on my frames (well, not literally) and I still had the feeling I was supposed to buy them. My gut was telling me to go get them. I don’t know what would have happened if I had not gone back and bought the golden frames. Maybe I would have broken the blue ones. Maybe nothing would have happened. All I know is that something in me was pulling me back to those frames, telling me to buy them for whatever reason. And since I felt so relieved after listening to my gut, it must have been the right decision. Only time will tell. Or maybe it won’t.
Talking about time, the black-and-gold glasses should be ready within a week and the blue ones should take up to three weeks. Until then, I am still stuck with my “workout glasses” – the ones that stay firmly on my face, but make me dangerous in traffic. But that’s okay because I am not driving much anyway.