Monday, January 24
The Right Fit
I have four distinct categories of clothing: things that fit, things I wish would fit, things that have never fit, and things others think should fit.
In the latter category are old sweaters, sweatshirts, t-shirts, a few pairs of jeans and dress pants, and a dress I can’t seem to part with. The dress is navy and cream, a delicate flower print with a lace collar and silver buttons that run from the calf-length hem to the cut of the v-neck. The dress is beautiful, it could even be described as exquisite. Nearly twenty years ago, one of my friends had a certain look in mind for me. She helped me pick the creation and urged me wear it often. When I finally summoned the courage to do so, I felt foolish. My friend was very tall and slim and had long dark hair and an inviting smile. The dress would have been perfect for her--not for me. My figure contradicted my friend’s vision: I was pleasantly pudgy from three pregnancies, and my coloring was much different from hers. Plus I didn’t seem to know how to smile just right, at least not the type of alluring smile the dress seemed to require.
In the twenty years I’ve owned the dress, I’ve worn it maybe four or five times. And yet I’ve hung onto it thinking that one day—one day—maybe I'll feel I'm as beautiful as my friend and be worthy of donning it.
The clothes that have never fit me, either size or personality-wise, were purchased because of my own vanity: friends had something similar and I wanted to look like they did. Depending on my age, weight, mood, or prevailing emotion at the time, I wanted to look fashionable, stylish, cute, pretty, beautiful, older, younger, thinner, preppy, chic, sophisticated—you name it. I wanted the look someone else had, any look that I felt was better than mine.
The things I wish would fit are things I purchased because I loved them regardless of whether or not anyone approved. I’ve waited months or years to be thinner or prettier so I could wear them. Growing up, one of the adults in my life always told me that pretty things were for pretty girls. When I grew up and starting earning my own money, I bought pretty things in anticipation of one day enjoying them . . . sometimes it's been difficult to think I actually deserved to.
The clothing that fits, size and personality wise, I have, wear and enjoy because my vanity, or the opinions of others, didn’t get the best of me. Among my favorites are items others may well consider as either ridiculous or sublime: thrift-store finds and almost-out-of-my-budget had-to-haves, worn and steeped in familiar comfort stuff, new and fun to wear things, trendy as well as outdated mainstays.
When I look at my life, I see similarities between what’s in my closet and what’s inside of me. There are attributes I’ve cultivated and convictions I hold fast to because I know they are right, qualities and practices I wish to ingrain because I want to always strive to do my best, there are also superfluous traits and habits I’ve acquired because of my own vanity, as well as uncomfortable characteristics and beliefs others have urged me to adopt.
The older I get I'm finding I want to toss out the unnecessary elements in my life in order to spend more time with what fits: I love being a cowboy-boot-wearing, pizza-for-breakfast-eating grandma who isn’t afraid to get my hands dirty.
And I love being a writer.
I want to work harder on being more succinct in my writing as I draw on experiences and emotions long buried. I need to clear emotional clutter so I can devote more attention to my relationships with loved ones and more depth to my writing. I’ve wasted far too many precious moments tossing around the negative opinions of others; and I no longer wish to be so self-absorbed. Because I’ve realized, just like the navy and cream flower print dress, to make room for the important stuff—the things that fit—some things have got to go.