Be the Change you wish to see in the world.

I used to ponder upon these words from Mahatmi Gandhi, but didn’t find it very applicable. I was a vegetarian for four years, but even then I couldn’t truly see the meaning behind these inspiring words of Gandhi, who was also a vegetarian. Maybe because I didn’t believe in “change”, I couldn’t make the other people change.

But now I think with the help of my students I’m starting to grasp what he means.

Last year we were doing a text on shopaholism and a student of mine (aged 18) said how the notion of shopaholism fits him, how mindlessly he goes shopping  for clothes and how much he buys. He asked me if I was the same. And I told him I used to be like that but not anymore. For example I’d only bought one t-shirt that year. The class, usually on their mobiles, suddenly started to pay attention. The school that I worked for then was a prestigious private university, so the families of these students were quite wealthy, except the students on scholarship.

When they started to listen, I told them that I decided I only needed a pair of jeans and a pair of shoes for summer, then I did lots of research and bought Levi’s jeans for like 20 dollars (like 70% discount) and a pair of Toms for 50$ (20% discount). I bought less and I paid less. Although my choice of Levi’s and Toms might seem materialistic, in my old days, I would never be able to buy these brands as I shopped so mindlessly. Their prices were always too much for me. Now that I choose what I buy, not the shopping centers that I frequently visited, I had the time to research the prices and buy them for a reasonable price.

I must say that I do not find buying just two items per season limiting. It’s not like “I won’t buy anything for a year” kind of statement. It is knowing yourself and what you truly need. Levi’s and Toms were my items for last summer.

{This summer, on the other hand, I made more purchases. I had three pairs of jeans, two pairs of flare jeans and that pair of Levi’s (which is bootcut). Upon losing some weight I thought those flare jeans do not really flatter my body, and will get rid of at least one (still not sure about the second, but I will give myself the time to adjust from flare to fitting jeans) I bought two pairs of straight fitting jeans and two t-shirts (how many t-shirts I’ve said goodbye I don’t know, but at least 3). So I’m trying to maximise the empty space in my wardrobe while changing my style, which is perfectly okay.}

you-must-be-the-change-you-wish-to-see-in-the-world-22

Of course I couldn’t express my feelings as freely as I wrote them, but I managed to capture the attention of at least 1 or 2. For two minutes they were able to leave the smart phones and listened to me. Even that meant a lot to me. And it suddenly reminded me of dear Gandhi. I am (at least trying to be) the change I wish to see in the world.

When I first started teaching I got so frustrated at the system and the rules that I started to think I would never be the teacher I was trained for and I set out for. I was afraid that I was going to be “another brick on the wall”. I am slowly learning how to be myself. It is exhilarating.

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