by Gracie Alvarez
Obsessions can come in many forms and many degrees.
You may never know it upon peeking into my bedroom or living space, but an obsession that has plagued me year after year is holding onto material possessions with sentimental value. Clothes, cards, notebooks, sketches, etc. It is only when you open the closet, dig through the drawers, or look under the bed, that you find countless trinkets that appeared in my life many years ago. Tucked away in drawers and closets, I have birthday cards as far back as my 6th birthday and brightly colored bandanas from field day teams when I was in middle school.
It's an obsession that seemed to never really hurt me, or those around me, because it’s a soft obsession; sentimental, even sweet. However, part of it has turned into something that has become detrimental to my mood and self esteem. The hoarding of clothing. I realized the extent of this problem when I recently moved into a new apartment. It slowly became apparent during the process that about 90% of my possessions are clothing or shoes.
Firstly, I needed to acknowledge the privilege that comes with having so many unnecessary clothing items. It’s a luxury that is completely unnecessary and a privilege that many cannot even imagine. By donating even just a few of the items in my closet, I could make clothing more readily available to someone who needs it. I also have to acknowledge that hoarding clothing is not the best move to promote fashion sustainability; few, if any, of the pieces in my closet were sustainably made, high quality, or made to last many years. This is also part of the reason I realized something had to change; this obsession wasn’t doing me, my community, or my environmental impact any good.
So on a rainy Sunday morning, I embarked on a “closet cleanse.” I was planning to be brutal, hold nothing back, and get rid of all the unworn items that had been moving with me from my childhood home, to my freshman dorm, and to apartment to new apartment.
It really was brutal. It involved taking everything out of my closet and drawers, dumping it into a huge pile and analyzing each piece to find out if it really “brought me joy,” Marie-Kondo style. I also forced myself to try everything on, look at it in the mirror, and figure out if 1) it even fit me or 2) it was something I actually would still even wear. This involved a 4-pile-sorting-system of ‘yes’, ‘maybe yes’, ‘maybe no’, and ‘no’––which made things a lot easier.
In doing this, I realized the real reason why I had held onto so many pieces. I was keeping jean skirts in my closet from middle school with the rationalization of “maybe if I lost 20 lbs, I’d fit into this again.” I had prom dresses from highschool with the idea of “maybe I’ll get invited to a high profile gala and need this soon.”
The reality was, I was holding onto clothing for a life I wished I had, and pretending that was practical. The impact of this, was that every single morning as I got dressed I was subconsciously confronted with the fact of “No, I’m not skinny enough for that,” or “No, I’m not successful enough for that.”
The whole process made me realize that the place you’re at in your life, at any given point, is the only chance you get to experience that. Throwing away minutes, days, months of your life waiting for something to happen, or change, is eating away at the time you could spend enjoying your life (or even just being content with it.) There might be a lot of things in your life you don’t realize are contributing to that; like the hoarding of ‘for when I’m skinny’clothes in your closet.