Whether we like to admit it or not, we judge people based on their appearance. Whether I look well-presented or not, has always been a very deliberate choice. If I'm feeling low, I want to show the world I'm low and I don't care, or I want to show them I have worth based on how I look.
In the past, people have criticized me about how long I take to get ready, but because I'm average looking, I would fret about my clothes and my hair. Some people would say it's vanity, but it was an overwhelming sense of inferiority that eventually became an impenetrable wall of pride.
But pride (and inferiority) are both useless, so I'm always looking for ways to eliminate them, and I gotta say, thrift shopping has been a great way to humble myself.
The Power of Thrift Shopping
Since becoming a volunteer, I'm much more conscious about how I spend what little money I have (not to mention, my crypto portfolio is absolutely down the dumps, below the gutter, and within the pits of hell right now).
The meditation centre I run is a nonprofit organisation, so money is always a point of contention when it comes to making the centre’s beautiful, as this is not considered “necessary”. Everything is utilitarian (which isn't surprising given it originated from Korea).
Utilitarian is wonderful, but where is the love of Mother? A space needs warmth, comfort and beauty also.
As an architect, I care about design and believe that our surroundings are an important part of our well-being. So, I went exploring at places like Target and Kmart, and eventually to some thrift shops to try and find things to decorate the centre with.
It was a process that took several weeks, if not months, and I just followed my heart and went with how I felt, and it makes me so happy to say that now people often comment on how beautiful the centre feels!
Even if they don't start the meditation, if it can leave a positive impression in their mind, it might be something that they'll remember when things become too difficult in their mind to not want to avoid the necessity of meditating anymore.
But what I also discovered in these thrift shops was a treasure trove! They have everything, from furniture, to books, to clothes, to children’s items.
Discovering Hidden Treasures
In the past, I'd just buy clothes willy nilly, and sometimes wouldn't even wear them more than once. I was always just going to make more money anyway so who cares?
But if you take your time, and really carefully follow your instincts, thrift shopping can be very, very fun, especially when you find some hidden gems!
I've picked up some fantastic books, and really nice pieces of clothing for $5 - $20. Some of them aren’t even 2nd hand, they’re just old items from shops that couldn't sell them within their season.
On top of this, if you go to the thrift shops in the rich suburbs, you can find some really, really nice items of clothing.
And at the end of the day, what I've learnt is that whether it’s new or old, no one really knows the difference except for you, so what's the big deal? It's been fantastic at eroding my own pride and judgements about myself.
Pricey vs. Practical
Something I've really started to pay attention to is "planned obsolescence" (Apple for instance are the kings at this - they literally plan their devices to malfunction within a certain period of time so you can buy the upgrade!)
Go buy a pair of undies, whether they're $50 or $5, they'll still erode at the same rate. I've measured it myself - the rubber soles on a pair of sneakers for $200 from Underarmour erodes at exactly the same rate as a $20 pair from Target.
They're all made in the same sweat shops.
So who's the real sucker in all of this? Despite my looking down on others based on their appearance, I came to realise the only fool was me - that I was deceived into believing in the cults of brands.
And yes, there is a certain point where quality does pay for itself, but it's not necessarily correlated to the price tag.
The Greatest Treasure I Found Was Humility
Among all the cool things I found, the best treasure was losing that stubborn pride, bit by bit.
I’m not going to lie and say it’s completely gone – like all change it’s a process. But in the act of doing things against my mind and my old ways of thinking, it’s just one of them any strategies I employ for long term sustainable change.
Besides the sweet, sweet fat loot, I’m developing a greater, truer sense of authenticity and humility. This is priceless.
So besides the amazing value of banging items I've picked up over the past year from the thrift shops, the most precious of them all is the development of more humility..... That seemingly endless amount of useless pride, bit by bit is breaking down.
Who knew that something so ordinary as 2nd hand clothing could be so enlightening? What’s some of the best thrift shop items you’ve picked up, and have you learnt any lessons from your journeys into thrift shopping?