At the end of every summer, I sort through my boys’ closets, weeding out what they won’t wear during the upcoming school year.
Some things they’ve outgrown and those get passed down to one of their brothers or to another family. Others are not even good enough to be used for rags and get tossed out. Still others might fit size wise but they’ve been hanging in the closet for a long time… things someone else sent them that aren’t their taste, clothes that aren’t comfortable, or something I look at and can’t reconcile with the child it’s intended to fit, like a crazily printed shirt with monsters all over it that is somehow meant for my preppy child.
Out they go, until we see what’s left that is the right size and feels like that child, and then we see what holes, if any, we need to fill with something new.
And then I got to my own closet.
A closet I rarely even open because I tend to grab the comfortable and casual clothes that live in my dresser (or on top of it because I didn’t get around to putting them away). Shorts, yoga pants, capris, leggings, tees, and tanks. Or maybe I’ll grab one of the many casual sundresses or maxi skirts that hang in the front of my closet since those feel like pajamas while looking dressier than my everyday wear.
But what is the rest of that hanging in my closet?
It’s for a girl who rarely makes an appearance. Someone who needs things freshly ironed and then slides her feet into heels to finish her look.
When I can’t even remember the last time I ironed anything and I’m fully a flip flop or fancy flat sandals type of a girl.
For me, it’s not about outgrowing or having those pieces someone gifted me, like it is for my boys.
Instead, there are pieces that hang there, full of expectation. This one bought for a conference, that one for a speaking engagement, that one for a fancy wedding, another for a party for my husband’s work. Each for its own purpose, but none that are really me. So much so that I barely notice they’re even there unless I’m on a cleaning spree.
Though they were each bought with a specific purpose in mind, they were bought for someone who isn’t who I am. Costumes, if you will, for the part I wanted to play. This is what an attendee of this conference looks like, that is what you’d expect to see a speaker wear, this is what to wear to fit in at that wedding, that is what a wife should wear to the holiday party. Not what I would pick for me, but what I would pick for a given role, as if I were playing a grown up game of dress up.
And though there’s nothing wrong with dressing the part and in fact an argument could be made that you have to dress for the occasion: no sweats at the fancy wedding, or running shorts at a brand event (not usually, unless there’s actually running involved), there isn’t some sort of hard and fast rule that THIS must be worn THEN.
I can still be me. I can get rid of those things that seem to be for an occasion instead of for me as a person. And along the years, I’ve discovered that those same events I used to think I needed to wear a certain uniform for in order to fit in, I can still just be me. That everything I do, it’s something that I’m going to because I’m who I really am- beach girl, mom of three sports playing boys, wife to a funny guy, loyal friend, good fit for a brand- and those don’t require a costume, they just require me to be there. ME, not some version of me that doesn’t really fit.
So, I think I’ll clean out my closet of all those things that are for a girl I’m not. Except for maybe one or two fancy, sparkly dresses, because you never can tell when even a flip flop girl will need one of those.