Last night, I spent hours “shopping” in my closets because in just 2 weeks, I’ll be traveling to Jamaica for my 25 year high school reunion. My passport finally arrived yesterday and the realization hit that I need to work on a wardrobe game plan. I did type “closets” and not “closet” because at one point, I had clothes in everyone’s closet, but my son took a stand one day and moved my clothes to the garage. By the way, he gets his feisty-ness from me. Since we downsized some years ago from a house to a duplex, the space has been limited, especially the closet space. My excuse has been that I went from a walk-in closet to one that is about a quarter of that. Yes, that’s a big difference.
As much as I would love shopping for new clothes, it just isn’t feasible at this time although I did buy one new dress a few weeks ago. We’re paying for my daughter’s summer camp and my husband just went back to work this week after being off for nearly 2 months since his surgery. The thing that I battle against is the sense of entitlement that I work hard, I take care of my family, and I’ve earned it; therefore, I deserve to splurge. Now, I do believe that I should treat myself, but at what point does acquiring new clothes, new shoes, new gadgets, and new stuff become enough. About 10 years ago, I thought that maybe I did have a problem when my oldest sister was perusing through my closet and referred to me as having a “sickness” due to my shoe collection. Ouch. That was a bit harsh and an exaggeration considering the source, but I’ve never forgotten that.
I think that in my case, some of it is compulsion, some of it habit, and dare I suggest, some of it may be filling a void. My family was poor, so I didn’t have a lot growing up. I vowed to make sure I had more than I needed when I got older. When I was a preteen, I owned this one white bra, which had to be hand washed every night. One night my mom yelled at me because I didn’t feel like washing it and she saw it was dingy with a capital “D”.
The fear of scarcity definitely motivates some of my behaviors and this extends beyond clothes. However, outside of my personal realm, society does put on the pressure in the messaging that we aren’t enough. People buy things to look and feel successful and happy. Social media causes people to make constant comparisons. I wouldn’t be telling the whole truth if I didn’t acknowledge that I’m prone to internalizing some of these messages.
Interestingly, there are aspects to living a minimalist lifestyle that really appeal to me such as living against the mold, freedom from being physically and mentally bogged down, and making room for more spiritual connection and enjoying experiences with people rather than things. The truth is that I want to embody some minimalist principles. I need to reassess to see if I’m living in a way that will get me there.
Years ago, we downsized our home due to the economy and my husband’s multiple layoffs. Despite the circumstances, I found it to be a blessing because since then I’ve learned that I could make any place a cozy, home. I’ve learned that as long as my family is together, nothing else matters. I’ve learned that the type of home I have isn’t a measure of my success or failure. I also learned about the positives of living in a small space such as there being a smaller cap on how much stuff can be brought and stored in your home. This has, for the most part, forced me to re-evaluate old things as I bring in new things. I purge more frequently than I have in the past, which is a bonus.
I actually enjoyed shopping in my closets last night. I’m a little embarrassed to write that I have so many clothes that I sometimes forget what I have. Maybe someone else can relate. I have mostly separates, and every now and then, I’ll put an outfit together that I really like, but I’m unable to replicate it on a different occasion because I forgot what I put together. This all prompted the idea to coordinate my outfits and take a picture of each outfit including the accessories. I have a work trip scheduled the same week as my trip to Jamaica, so I didn’t want to wait until the last minute.
That exercise allowed me to not only coordinate some great options, I gained a greater appreciation for what I have. This message extends well beyond clothes. I encourage others to take the time to take a look at what you have, purge what no longer serves you, make room for meaningful experiences, and be grateful.