I have issues with clothing.
There, I said it. When I think of clothes, I flashback to being in high school, standing in my closet, staring at rows of colorful clothing and starting to cry (yes, cry) because I had “nothing to wear”. Ridiculous? Yes. I know.
I really did have a neurosis. I felt like people would remember my outfits and that I could not wear the same thing two days in a row, including shoes, because for some reason I felt like it would make people think less of me, like me less, or put me down.
Thinking back on that time in my life, the reasons for my reaction to my closet had nothing to do with the quality of my clothing, it was so much more about me questioning who I was, questioning the choices I was making, and not being satisfied with myself. Picking out an outfit made me feel like I had to choose a character and decide on who I was. Would I wear a colorful shirt today and look preppy? Would this make the art kids think that I wasn’t cool? If I wore those boots and an oversized sweater would I look artsy? What would the preppy kids think? Clothing exposed me because choosing an outfit seemed to make me feel as if I was defining myself, and I was in no way ready to understand who I was.
And then something happened. I was accepted to college and my entire outlook shifted. It took me out of the present and helped me to stop thinking about the people that were around me, focus on the future.
With the transition of my outlook came the transition of my wardrobe. It quickly turned into one pair of black skinny jeans, three oversized black shirts, an oversized black sweater, a pair of loafers, and black socks. Without really understanding why, I started to reduce what I had. I was donating what was in my closet and felt myself becoming happier. I didn’t have to think about what I was going to wear to school the next day because it didn’t matter as much anymore. It seemed that with fewer distractions and fewer options came more acceptance, and with more acceptance came happiness. I realized that clothing really had very little to do with the type of person I was, it was in fact just clothing. That doesn’t mean one can’t have clothes that they love, it just means one might not need 75 t-shirts to be happy.
I went to an event at Etsy Labs on Friday that talked about hyperconsumerism and the sharing economy. I learned that there is a studied inverse correlation between the amount of stuff you own, and your happiness. My experience in high school really supports this. As I stopped focusing on clothing and began focusing on myself, I started to change. I was calmer, did not get angry as easily, became happier with my body, had less conflict in my life, and became genuinely happier with myself.
I have held onto the idea that less is more over the past five years and am now, at 22 years old, attempting to have as little excess as possible. That means having a small wardrobe, holding on to fewer sentimental objects and holding on to more memories.
Of course sometimes I forget this and regress to the 17 year old me standing in my closet wanting to cry and my boyfriend has to remind me that no one will even remember what I am wearing and that it really doesn’t matter that much because if I am myself, the only thing they will focus on is my personality. Even when I doubt him in the moment, after the fact I realize that he is... right. It’s so not about the stuff.
It’s not as easy as it sounds though. I am a hyperemotional person and attach faux value to stuff because of a connection to a time it represents. I still hold on to things that are absolutely unnecessary and I really want to change this aspect of my personality and learn to value memories, not things.