Tell us about a personal quality, talent, accomplishment, contribution or experience that is important to you. What about this quality or accomplishment makes you proud, and how does it relate to the person you are?
It hung over the mannequin like a silken waterfall, glimmering in all its royal blue glory. "It's perfect," I thought, "there couldn't be a more beautiful dress for me to wear to homecoming." My friends' encouraging nods of approval confirmed to me that my usual crude fashion sense hadn't steered me the wrong direction this time.
But then something caught my attention. I gazed up at the bright red 30 percent off sign hanging above the mannequin. Immediately, my heart sank. My conscience exclaimed: "Do you REALLY think it's worth it to spend all that hard-earned internship money to pay OVER HALF PRICE for some lousy dress? 30 percent off is nothing!" My hand clenched tightly around my wallet. It's true, I thought, I could definitely find a more discounted dress that was just as decent.
And, I did end up wearing a very nice gown which I borrowed from my cousin. However that didn't ease the embarrassment of making some last minute excuse to my friends revolving around how the fabric of the original dress didn't complement my skin tone. That shopping excursion with my friends is one of only a couple I've reluctantly attended in all my adolescent years. My frugality clashes distastefully with the lavish materialism of many other teenage girls.
At my house, beneath a cornucopia of coupons and a pile of bright orange discount labels, proudly stands my mom, who so firmly instilled in me her values. Raised in a poor village in China where ten hours of labor barely yielded a bowl of rice and half a pound of meat for the family, my mom worked tirelessly and cherished each penny as if it were gold. From the day my 5-year-old mind held a preference for a "pretty" (expensive) skirt over an "ugly" (final sale) skirt, my mom had lectured me on the importance of saving money and fully appreciating all that I had.
Although a frugal lifestyle certainly deprives me from spur-of-the-moment shopping sprees with my friends, it also emphasizes a diligent work ethic and practicality which hold much greater value than any designer dress. I am able to discern wants from needs-and willingly put in that extra hour of work if necessary to satisfy my needs. Ultimately, through hard work and frugality, I gain more but need less.
And plus, catching hottest sales with my good ol' ma isn't too shabby either.