(image credit – because unfortunately that beautiful closet is not mine. #goals)
Getting rid of just about everything in my closet was a byproduct of my quarter life crisis. Apparently, when you’re questioning who you are, your closet also takes the opportunity to reassess itself.
I didn’t have the answers and unfortunately, neither did my closet.
The only problem with getting rid of basically all of your clothes is the whole filling it back up with stuff you love part. And when you’re deep in the process of aggressively paying off debt (think “gazelle intensity”) shopping kind of falls by the wayside. So I found myself with a depressingly empty closet, and no budget to immediately add new things.
Alas, there are lessons to be learned in every experience, and while my closet wasn’t able to tell me which direction to take with my life, it definitely had a thing or two to teach me in the process.
First, it’s okay to live with holes (both of the wardrobe hole and physical hole variety).
There have been times in my life where I’ve felt something was missing. Whether it was lack of passion in my work, or feeling lonely during the times John and I were dating long distance, or losing a friend and feeling that void big time. But the most important thing to remember is that those feelings and voids are temporary. There are always new jobs to explore, solutions to relationship roadblocks, and new friends you haven’t met yet. Living with a hole can give you clarity on what actually needs filling back up in your closet and in your life, and makes your future decisions all the wiser.
You can follow the trends and wear yourself out trying to keep up, or you can just do what the hell you like.
As much as I love fashion and it’s ever-changing nature, what I love more is the process of defining what feels like me and is true to me alone. That’s what makes getting dressed fun. And this is exactly why FOMO (fear of missing out) and comparing yourself/your life to those people you are friends with on Facebook from high school but never talk to (guilty) are both activities that don’t deserve your mental energy. Same goes for comparing your closet to that of a fashion blogger with an endless supply of “c/o” items coming in each month.
If you look at someone else’s life and try to follow in their footsteps or emulate their style, you’ll be entering the endless game of catching up. But if you just learn to be happy with what you have now, you’ll feel more full than ever. Do and wear what makes you happy and forget the rest. Like Amy Poehler says: “Good for her! Not for me.” Take that simple, fantastic advice to heart and appreciate others while still loving what you’re working with.
Sometimes, you just have to let go.
The most painful part of my closet purge was getting rid of some of my shoes. Whether they were winter boots no longer practical for my Florida lifestyle, or pumps attached to fond memories of my life at 21, letting go of the past and of things that no longer fit your life is hard. Know what’s harder? Letting go of people. Letting go of regret. Letting go of guilt. But when you do let go, it’s amazing how much better you feel. Letting go is hard, but it’s absolutely necessary if you want to move forward.
At some point, everything will feel wrong and look wrong and make you feel so blah.
Just like your wardrobe crisis, you’ll also have your fair share of life crises. When I felt like I didn’t know who I was or where I wanted to go I looked to my closet and saw much of the same. I saw things that no longer felt like me, and everything I added was a reflection of my blah upon blah mood. But this is part of life, and it’s also part of figuring out your style. Sometimes you have to feel and experience all of the wrong stuff in order to get to the right stuff.
You can always start over, and it’s not impossible.
A lot of the times, you already have most of the things that you need to reinvent the wheel both in your closet, and in your life. Getting rid of basically ALL of my clothes made me realize there were some true gems to be unearthed. Those gems became the building blocks of my wardrobe rebuild, but I found I was happy with only those items and didn’t feel a great urgency in adding new items. If you’re feeling unsettled in life, take a moment to weed out all of the negative stuff and think about all of the great things you have going for you already. Roof over your head? Sunshine? A loving and respectful partner? Cookies? I bet you feel better already.
Figuring it out requires confidence and a willingness to experiment.
Remember when you were completely fearless with fashion? For me, that time was mostly in high school where I went through different personas rapidly until I settled somewhere in the middle that felt the most “me.” But some of that confidence and experimentation seems to dwindle as we age, and we find ourselves playing it safe more and more.
The last big life change I made was at 23 when I moved from PA to FL to move in with John. It was scary and exciting but so worth it! I was confident in my decision, and it paid off. Now, at 26, I feel another big life shift coming on and for a long time, I let fear get in my way. But fear sucks. Let go of the fear, make a change, and don’t be afraid to experiment along the way. You won’t get it right the first time, or maybe even the fifth time, but you’ll get there.
I still don’t have the answers, and despite how many times I’ve asked my closet it doesn’t seem to have them either, but that’s okay. Whether you’re cleaning up your closet or cleaning up your life, remember that the pain is part of the process. And there are lessons to be learned in even the worst of situations, as long as you’re willing to pay attention.