Oxford’s definition: a person with an exaggerated respect for high social position or wealth who seeks to associate with social superiors and looks down on those regarded as socially inferior.
That’s boring. Let’s get more creative.
My definition: a person who values his life, his time, and his energy & resources, realizes he has all the limitations of a homo sapiens, and thus chooses to use his life, time, and energy & resources only in wise, conscious ways.
I am a snob. Are you? You should be.
How I became a snob
I’ve always been a scattered mess – the type with an atrocious work desk, who cranks her head sideways trying to read her own handwriting, looks for her phone while she’s on it, changes clothes five times before leaving the house, only to return two more times in a panic for the car keys, plays Nascar along the highway, flipping the bird at every third car (not because I’m speeding – they’re driving like snails, obviously), and finally skids into her destination just 30 seconds before fashionably late becomes unfashionable.
Admittedly, there is something exciting and challenging about this lifestyle, but living like this every day, everywhere you go, with everything you do, is exhausting and simply masochistic. And it seems like it’s only about time, doesn’t it?
But when I looked closer, to the cause of this daily madness, I saw clutter. Clutter not just of physical belongings, but clutter of schedule, clutter of information, clutter of people, clutter of ideas. It was letting too much ‘stuff’ – in every sense of the word – into my life without discernment. It was packing my evenings and weekends with people I didn’t feel like seeing, having conversations I didn’t want to have at happy hours I wasn’t happy at, spending money on things that didn’t make me feel absolutely badass, consuming needless information, and (important!) giving every emotion the right to take over at any point, amongst other things.
Bottom line: I wasn’t being enough of a snob about the things I let into my life. And this lack of snobbery adds up in a million tiny ways and causes you to live a life you never consciously chose.
I was first introduced to a simple but profound ‘you should fill your life with things you actually like’ concept by Marie Kondo in The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up. The whole book rests on the premise ‘does it spark joy?’ She suggests you hold every single one of your belongings in your hand and ask that question. If yes, it stays. If not, it goes. At first, this sounded too hippy for me, but after I gave it a fair chance, about 60% of my belongings went out.
The light unburdened feeling I felt after this clear out was unmatched. And I realized I needed to start being more of a snob in everything – not just things – and to consciously ask whether I want or need this thing, this person, this activity, this meeting, this information, this food, this commitment, in my life.
In the west, we’re brought up in a yes, yes, yes, more, more, more culture. Always say yes, you never know what it will lead to! Always network, you never know when you’ll need that person! (Well that isn’t very authentic now, is it?) Buy more, have more, do more, date more, fuck more, meet more, be more.
But what about taking control of your life and saying….no? Try it. Out loud…now. Nnnnno! Feels cool, doesn’t it?
Perhaps we’d benefit from thinking more ‘why’ and less ‘why not.’ Your time, energy, and attention are limited – that’s why not. So why should I give this thing/person/idea room in my life? Do I have a good answer? ‘Why not’ is passive – life happens to you. ‘Why’ is active – you choose what happens.
Snob questions to start with: Do I actually want this? and Does it have to be done?
Start with those questions. Doesn’t matter what it’s about – could be the shirt you’re about to drop $50 on, the task you’re about to crush at work, the booty call you’re about to answer in the affirmative, the lunch with a friend that you’re about to squeeze into your schedule, the sick relative you’re about to take care of, or the jabby remark your boyfriend just spewed that you feel like turning into a drama just ‘cause you’re pissed your friend cancelled on you tonight and you have nothing better to do.
If you’re feeling curious about applying those questions and looking for a personal invitation to the secret society of snobs, I give you your first initiation assignment:
Snob-sweep the following areas immediately:
– What you wear – you know those days when you know you look good, so you feel good, and you actually treat people better? Yeah. Start putting the ingredients in your closet to cook up more days like that
– The miscellaneous crap in your house and junk drawers that are cluttering and making you late for life
– What you consume – information, alcohol, people’s complaints, books, TV shows, podcasts, emails, etc., and…
– Food – does it nurture you or poison you? If it poisons you, how good does it feel, really? (Oreos are exempt.)
– The people you hang out with
– The conversations you have
– The hobbies you undertake
– How you spend your time – this includes your job. I know, you are all going to blast me about how you have to work this job because you have two houses and three and a half kids, but at the very least…
– How you spend your time at work – do you really have to hold a meeting? Or could it be done through an email? Are you being productive, or just busy?
– The words that come out of your mouth – could it be said in fewer words? Does it need to be said at all?
– The arguments you choose to have (hello, significant others) – some are, and should be, a REALLY BIG DEAL…most aren’t.
– The emotions you allow to consume you – not every feeling that pops up deserves a VIP suite in the hotel that is your mind
– Your relationships and your sex life – ASAP
– The advice you give – do you really know, or are you just acting like it?
– The advice you take – does that person really know, or just acting like it?
– The thing that dictates everything else: your values, i.e., what you choose to care about, what you live and die by.
This list is extremely overwhelming. I know. I’m basically suggesting to clean up your entire life. But before you pelt me with rotten tomatoes, start with one single area that makes the most sense to you, and cut down, replace, and renew. And see what happens. Start being snobby in areas you never thought of – minimalism isn’t just about things.
Do I actually want this? Does it have to be done? Of course, there are loopholes and exceptions and yes, there are many corollaries and addendums in the snob manifesto, but those two questions are a damn good start.
This doesn’t mean giving yourself the green light to be lazy, be cheap, or be a jerk. No. Do the projects you know have to get done, keep giving your in-laws a ride to the airport, be there for your crying friend even when it’s inconvenient for you, etc. Like…keep being a half-decent human. But choose everything with a little more discernment.
If something sounds arrogant about what you’ve read so far, I understand. I am a snob, after all. But I am not suggesting which things, people, and activities you should seal with the snob-stamp. That’s for you to choose. But the point is – do choose. You deserve to choose.
We all complain we don’t have enough time, enough money, enough energy – but how are we spending it? It comes down to simplicity, authenticity, creating space for things that actually matter, and cutting out the rest.
Even the words in this post were too excessive before I snobbed it.
So bottom line – start snobbing. You don’t have to snobbify your entire life overnight. But maybe just try to out-snob yesterday…