January 21, 2021

Revelations on Holding On & Letting Go as I Clean out my Wardrobe.

My addiction to home edits, coupled with lockdown boredom, found me this day trying to color code the display of clothing hanging ceremoniously in the closet.

These were clothes that I never wear, and it got me to thinking about what they represented to me.

Which pieces were important, and why the hell hadn’t I thrown out or donated most of it? Did I even like half of the items that hung before me?

I have so many clothes, and yet, I wear about 10 percent of them. Trust me when I say this is not because I am a fashionista; my clothes are not an addiction, nor a well-choreographed collection of on-trend seasonal pieces that I lovingly keep and rotate each time the clocks go back. My clothing collection is a mishmash of two-sizes-too-small, nostalgic “I wore that when’s,” and a whole lotta workwear. I have an old bridesmaid dress, a few Christmas jumpers, and far too many party dresses for someone who hates going out.

Who was this rainbow of rags serving?

During the last 12 months, much like most of the world, my uniform has been predominantly pajamas, daytime scruffs, outdoor walking gear, some workout wear (yeah, truly infrequent…but this happens), and a couple of summer dresses for the three days of sunshine I feel like I have been exposed to this year. And do you know how many times I have genuinely stared into my wardrobe and thought about all the clothes I was not wearing?

Zilch. Nada. F*ck all times. In all honesty, I have just been grateful for elastic waistbands.

This got me thinking about all the occasions that I would be wearing these clothes, and how much I missed them. And guess what, this evoked similar feelings. I didn’t miss them at all. FOMO has officially left the building.

Did I miss the pub? Yeah, but I missed the jeans and jumper evenings at the pub, not the heels and hoops version. I miss people—don’t get me wrong, I am not a complete hermit yet and I do have a longing for social interaction—but mostly I miss the comfy version: close friends, family occasions, and intimate dinners. Easy conversations, gentle interactions, no undercurrents of ego—just simple human interactions with those I love the most.

The people I missed the most, I realised as I sat and stared into the wardrobe abyss, were the equivalent of the clothes that were heaped up on my bedroom floor—the ones I wear so much they either live on me or in the washing basket. They are the metaphorical equivalent to never, ever being hung in the wardrobe; never on display, they are close, ruffled, and completely worn in but comfortable, reassuring, dependable, and expandable.

The ones on display—the nice to haves but weren’t all that necessary—hugely outnumbered the absolute essentials to my real needs. This is a reoccurring theme, maybe. There are few things you need in life to survive and the ones you do need are not the display items; instead they are the frayed and time-served pieces that are surgically attached to you.

Don’t worry, I am not sitting here writing a blog about my attachments to textiles. Instead, I am drawing similarities to realizations I have made during this period that also meet this wardrobe analogy.

What’s important and what is not; who is important and who is not.

I don’t want a life filled with frilly frocks that I will never wear. I want a life filled with messy clothes that I can live in, breathe in, that move with me, grow with me, shrink with me. My post-COVID intentions are to devote my time and energy into the time-served and not the time-shares.

Maybe it’s an age thing, but gone are the days when I try and wear an outfit to fit in, when I dress to impress anyone but myself. I am comfortable with being comfortable. That does not mean that I have resigned to a life at home, reading my books, feeding my cats, isolated and introverted forevermore. What it means is that I am committed to living with more meaning and that I would rather be home in my pj’s with my closest friends than dressing to impress a bunch of people who I don’t even want to be with.

I look back and realise that for too long I have tolerated and conformed to try and fit some social expectation. How many nights out have I had where I get halfway through and wish I were back in my comfy clothes? How many times have I been in a room full of people and felt disconnected or alone? How many times have I spent money on expensive drinks to meet my social quota and wished I had not the next day? How many times have I been in company that left me drained and depleted?

The answer to all these questions, is too many.

We all want to fit in, as humans connection and feeling included is not only important, it is necessary for us to feel nourished and validated. But too often we overlook the basis for why we hold on to certain friendships or connections that do not serve to make us feel either nourished or validated. Are we just accumulating a wardrobe full of meaningless frocks?

I, for one, have sacrificed my own needs far too many times to pacify that of others. Being in lockdown has given me a passport to remove myself completely from these impositions—and honestly, it has been liberating.

My conclusion is that when lockdown lifts, it will not be a case of heading to the wardrobe and slipping on something I have not worn in ages to venture out and see as many people as I can. Instead, I will gather my favorite staples from the floor and meet my favorite people at the door.

And I’ll also be taking a lot of clothes to the charity shop.

“Comfortable shoes and the freedom to leave are the two most important things in life.” ~ Shel Silverstein


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