It’s that time of year when I pull out two totes from the storage room in the basement and lug them up to our bedroom for the bi-annual closet swap. I’ve got two sets of clothes — one for spring/summer and one for fall/winter, though a few items stay out year round. As long as I have the right kind of layering, I can get by with this set up. Plus, every other season it’s like I’m getting all new clothes again!
In the last few years with the KonMari craze, I’ve tried to pay more attention to what I’m putting in the closet and what I’m storing for six months down the road. I decided that if I hadn’t worn something all season, I’d keep it in the totes one more round. After that, to the donation pile!
However, last weekend when I saw all the clothes I hadn’t worn for over a year, I wasn’t so sure about my plan. I asked my husband, “How do I know it’s time to get rid of something I haven’t worn for awhile?” He didn’t have an answer for me, so I went back to the piles.
I had all kinds of reasons in my head as to why I could keep the clothes:
I might start wearing that style again at some point.
What if I need those pants for a future job?
This skirt doesn’t take up that much space, what does it hurt to keep it another year?
Lots of reasons as to why I needed to hold onto clothes I haven’t worn in more than four seasons!
I ended up filling a kitchen trash bag with all those clothes. I let them go. I didn’t give myself much time to change my mind either. The next day I dropped the bag off at Goodwill.
I began to ponder that question a bit more: how do I know it’s time to get rid of something I haven’t worn in awhile? The question wouldn’t let me go…
How do I know it’s time to get rid of something… that is no longer serving me?
How do I know it’s time to get rid of something… that doesn’t bring me joy?
How do I know it’s time to get rid of something… that makes me feel less than?
If my experience last weekend taught me anything, the time is now. There’s no point holding onto things that no longer serve me, that don’t bring me joy, that makes me feel less than.
Over the last few years I’ve had to get rid of more than clothes. I got rid of expectations… that I’ll have a baby, that I’ll be a mom. I got rid of dreams… how I’ll tell my family I’m pregnant, how I’ll decorate the baby’s room. I got rid of cultural standards… that I’ll fit into the mold, that I’ll do whatever it takes.
When I filled that trash bag full of clothes, one of the two totes was significantly less full. I didn’t rush to fill it up with new clothes. I let it stay mostly empty. My closet and shelves and dresser drawers aren’t as full anymore either. There is a lot more space.
Space is good. I’ve opened up space in my life that I wasn’t expecting. Because I didn’t rush to fill it, I had time to discern next steps and possibilities. Because I didn’t force myself into finding comfort, I learned from the discomfort. Through the exploration of this open space, I began to find nooks and crannies I didn’t know existed. I found old ideas stuffed into a corner. I found all kinds of new ideas scattered around the edges of the space, now visible because a I tossed out all those big things.
When I pulled away from Goodwill, a part of me that wanted to turn back and ask for the bag. I wanted one more chance to go through it and make sure I really didn’t want any of those items anymore. But I didn’t. I kept driving. I knew going back was pointless. I’d gone through the pile multiple times. There was nothing in the bag that I needed.
Occasionally I try to grab some of those old expectations and dreams. I consider fitting back into the mold, I think about doing whatever it takes. And then I remember all the work I did to get myself to this open space. All the intentional steps I’ve taken toward this life I’m living today. I remember that this newly discovered open space in my life is freeing is so many ways. So, I keep going forward, knowing I’ve gone through it all multiple times. There is nothing behind me that I need.