Beyond materialism

Published March 30, 2024

Hey kids, since the holy month is still going on, our family has been talking about more than just prayers and fasting — guess what it is? Shopping, of course!

Yes, we’re also gearing up for Eid shopping! Many smart mothers have already bought the basics like clothing and shoes, because shopping later can get pretty hectic with all the crowds and even some safety concerns in the markets.

But there are still those who love the hustle and bustle, wanting to soak in all the lights, foods and festivity, so they wait till the last days of the month to go shopping, or just hang out with family to experience the beauty of this special time. They might even bug their parents for it! So for those who venture out, it’s important to be super careful and avoid bringing any valuable stuff with them to the malls or markets.

But let’s admit that in Ramazan, most of us are so caught up in the shopping excitement that we hardly think about others. I’m guilty of it too! We get focused on what ‘we’ want and we keep asking our parents until they give in.

And then comes the not-so-great part — bragging. As soon as we get something, we start showing it off to our friends or cousins, whether a branded dress, watch or expensive jewellery. But that’s not cool at all, right?

There are chances that some of your friends, or even cousins, may not be able to afford it or their parents might not allow them to buy unnecessary or expensive stuff. However, if you’re lucky and privileged enough to get what you want, don’t show it off or speak highly about it.

Remember, not everyone is in the same situation as you are. Not everyone can afford those fancy or expensive stuff and some may not even be able to express their feelings about it, whether they feel hurt, impressed or have a deep yearning for it. It’s something I remind myself about, and I believe it’s important for you to remember too.

So the first thing is, besides our own needs and desires, it is important to think about other people’s feelings too when we plan our Eid shopping. It’s not too difficult, and small gestures can make a big difference.

I remember back in the old days during Ramazan, kids would exchange Eid cards with their friends and family. One charming tradition was that girls often gave small gifts, like bangles, earring, etc, along with their Eid cards to their friends, and they would receive something in return. Boys, on the other hand, would exchange items like stickers, lockets, magic trick cards, or whatever they could afford. However, times have changed, and with the rise of technology, printed cards are no longer exchanged. Nowadays, everything is exchanged digitally through messages or digital cards.

What I suggest, only if your parents allow and it does not burden their wallet, consider buying small gift items to give to your friends, and perhaps even to the children of the helpers (maids, gardener, watchman) in or around your house. You can even make sure it doesn’t burden your parents financially too much, by cutting down on some of your own Eid shopping and using that money to buy gifts for others. It’s a simple gesture that can bring a lot of joy to others.

Now, let’s focus on the bragging part that often follows when you buy something, or you make an achievement in life or in academics. In simple words, bragging is showing off or speaking highly about your achievements and things you possess. Most of you don’t even realise that what you often do is bragging and you do it unintentionally.

It may not appear damaging but, in reality, bragging can make everyone around you feel inferior about themselves, while you are perceived as proud and arrogant. Those who brag, can ultimately face the negative effects because others feel bad if they haven’t achieved the same things or don’t have the same possessions. How would you feel if someone kept bragging about things you couldn’t afford or didn’t have? Yeah, not good, right?

Illustration by Faraz Ahmed
Illustration by Faraz Ahmed

Why you should quit bragging

When all your friends hear from you is how awesome you are at cricket, how many gadgets you have, or how many times you go out shopping and to restaurants, it starts sounding pretty arrogant. You may think about yourself as impressive, but it honestly reveals how self-centred you are. The truth is nobody likes someone who shows off.

Bragging doesn’t give you confidence!

Are you not confident and happy about what you have? Then why show off? If you are content, you don’t need to speak about yourself or show off what you have to those who don’t have it. True confidence means feeling good about who you are, even without constant praise, comparisons to others, or having the latest flashy gadgets, branded clothing or toys.

This month teaches us compassion, so telling the world around you about your expensive possessions or your shopping spree actually goes against its spirit. Besides, it’s not just about this month, it’s about habits we develop during this blessed month that we must carry throughout the year. These habits are meant to become deep-rooted within us forever. What is the use of developing noble habits that end as the month ends?

True friends don’t brag

Think about who you feel closest to among your buddies. Your very best friend doesn’t make you prove how cool or accomplished you are before wanting to hang out, right? And chances are you don’t feel the need to brag to them either. Real connections are built on understanding who someone genuinely is on the inside — not on their external trophies.

The benefits of not bragging

Sometimes, when your friends or acquaintances sees the expensive stuff that you show off, they stop sharing what they have and maintain a distance so that there is no comparison to make them feel inferior. If you stop showing off and speaking highly about yourself, your possessions and achievements, you’ll find that friends will start opening up more and become closer than before.

You’ll feel happier with yourself

Here’s a piece of wisdom — secure, fulfilled people don’t need constant external validation. Achievements are never hidden from the world, so don’t worry, all you need to do is quit the bad habits that may make you feel guilty about yourself one day.

Quitting any habit at once is super tough. But try avoiding to put the focus on yourself. Try to listen and observe others more, and stop overtly sharing about your life. And even better, just listen when they are talking, rather than planning what you’ll say next about yourself.

So kids, shop as much as you want, but don’t forget about your friends and others around you. Share your happiness and contribute to theirs as well. Showing off is never a good trait, always be kind and humble. The humbleness you develop in this blessed month shouldn’t end when it’s over; let it be your permanent quality that stays throughout your life.

Published in Dawn, Young World, March 30th, 2024

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