No. No. No. Yes. No. Yes. No. MINE. Oh heck no.
I stood over my bed, sorting the mountain of clothes I’d collected there.
Keep. Give. Toss. Give. Give. Keep. Give. Not in a state for human wearability. Cut out the front for a project. Give.
Anybody walking in on me would smile, figuring I was doing a routine sorting of my clothes.
But it was a lot more than it appeared to be.
I grew up in a rather low-economy bracket. Whatever clothes came my way, I kept until they wore out or got too tight. I still don’t shop for clothes more than a couple times a year. They’re just not a high priority for me and I haven’t ever really cared what I looked like. Why should I? I dont want all my time and attention consumed by matching pieces of cotton and polyester. I certainly didn’t want anything that hugged me too close. Or showed off my body. Why would I want that attention? Best get the school uniform that’s obviously two sizes too large.
It’s comfortable, I assured myself, and I can keep those pants around too. So they’re ragged at the hems, so what? A few snips of the scissors and the ragged edges are taken care of, right? Is that shoe falling apart? Glue and duct tape!
This was all my decision, my outlook on life. I did not want to let go of the clothes I had. I didn’t see the need to replace clothes when the ones I had were perfectly wearable. And people shouldn’t judge me by the clothes I wear anyway, I reasoned, that’s just dumb.
So I carried on through life this way. I dressed up for interviews, special occasions, and dates. That was it. Somewhere along the way I would pick up a skirt or a dress and hang it in my closet for “someday”, because I did enjoy getting dolled up once a blue moon. But it’s not practical! I cant bike to work in a skirt.
A few years back I was working an office job. I wore jeans, flip-flops, and barely passable t-shirts. I didn’t meet much with clients so it was fine. But sometimes a client would come in and catch us off guard, or I would be assigned to meet with a client spur-of-the-moment with no time to change.
Truth is, I was so used to what I was wearing, I forgot how unacceptable my apparel was in the business world. So I was caught off guard when a client insinuated that I looked grungy.
I felt like a little kid who’d been slapped. I’d been nothing but polite and attentive to an angry client. Why did it turn personal?
In spite of the rude words, I came to realize the client was right. I was not dressed for business. I had never really dressed for business. I owed my workplace no less than my best, so it was time I changed.
Not just for my workplace’s sake, though. I went to my closet. I went to my dresser. I pulled out every piece of clothing I had and threw it on the bed. I tried them all on and looked in the full-length sliding mirror. Did it drape like a bag? Gone. Did it have holes in it? Gone. Did it look hideous on me and I’d just fooled myself that it looked ok? Gone.
At 24 I had been wearing these clothes as long as I could remember. Suddenly there was a trash bag full of them sitting in the hall, waiting to go to Goodwill.
I gave away two pants that were too large for me. I set aside most of my shirts to be ironed. I went through through my sock drawer, ferreting out all the single socks that had no match.
From that point on I vowed to change this part of myself, the part that refused to get rid of clothes until they fell off me from use or tore, “Because I’m not worth new clothes. Or nice clothes.” I never felt the need to dress myself nicely because, “I’m not worth it anyway, and I may as well showcase how not-worth-it I am.”
Standing over my bed sorting my clothes was more than a gift to Goodwill and a closet purge. It was a deliberate declaration.
“I am worth it and I will act like I’m worth it.”
Dressing in my freshly ironed shirt the next day, I felt more adult. I still left in my black jeans and flip-flops. Some things, after all, couldn’t be solved until my next paycheck, but other things could be. I vowed to begin changing things, because I cared. Because I chose to be worth it to myself.
NOTE: This post was originally written in 2013.
Photo by Dani Vivanco on Unsplash