The most important piece of advice I have ever received.

February 2, 2012
The most profound and valuable piece of advice ever given to me was by a man I have never talked to, a man I have never seen. In fact, this man died almost 50 years before the day I was born. This man is Mahatma Gandhi.

I remember it vividly. I was surfing the internet for profound and motivational quotes worthy enough to be posted on my sacred Facebook wall. While I searched, I could hear my mom vacuuming downstairs while my sister blasted her Finnish, heavy metal music as if she was challenging my mom in a battle over who could make the most noise. As this battle raged on my last nerve, I came across a website with nothing but quotes from a man named Mahatma Gandhi. I was somewhat familiar with Gandhi at the time; it was only a few weeks prior that my social studies class learned about his non-violent protests. He seemed like a pretty chill dude. I reached the end of the page. There it was, a simple sentence of eleven words: “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” All of sudden everything went quiet. It was like in the movies when a guy sees a beautiful girl and nothing else in the world matters except for that girl. I shook myself out of this trance, and went about my day but in the back of my mind those words lingered, pervading my thoughts often.

I could not fully grasp the sheer significance of those eleven words until I was trying to sleep one night; the day’s event were whizzing through my head preventing my slumber. As usual, my thoughts turned towards those eleven words. I had an epiphany. You see, a common thing for teenagers to do on Facebook is to complain about how nothing ever goes their way. I admit that I have taken part in this game as well, but this time it was different. I realized, thanks to Mr. Gandhi, that I have the power to live the life that I want to and not let anything shift me off that path. His words inadvertently showed me that I have to take full responsibility for everything in my past and my future. He also showed me that all that has been created in the outside world first took place internally. Thomas Edison didn’t complain on his Facebook wall to all his friends that he hated that people kept interrupting him while he was trying to invent the telephone. He blamed himself for letting those people interfere with his work, and that he should not allow them to control his life and his potential.

The way I looked at those people on Facebook changed drastically in that moment. My sympathy turned into empathy. I realized that when we let other people dictate our lives and emotions, we are puppets. I was a puppet. I had let other people dictate my life. I made a promise to myself to not let other people tell me how to feel or how to act. I am my own person with my own thoughts. I am me. I am the change I want to see in the world.

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