if life had a dressing room

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i may or may not have recently had myself a little shopping spree at gap. and by “may or may not” i mean that i did and i regret nothing. it was 30% off the entire store and i needed a few (dozen) new things for my fall wardrobe. but superfluous spending habits aside, after spending a prolonged period of time in the gap dressing room at the utc mall, i’ve decided that maybe shopping sprees are kind of a metaphor for life.

i know it’s a stretch, but let me explain.

on my first trip around the store, i literally grabbed one of everything in my size. actually in multiple sizes (just in case i had to size up or down, you never know with everything running “over-size” these days) until all you could make out of my body was the brim of my hat and the sparkle of my silver toms slip-ons. i waddled my way back to the dressing room where i unloaded the menagerie of sweaters, jackets, jeans, and tees. i barely knew where to begin. the abundance of new things was overwhelming at first. but little by little i tried on a pair of denim here, slipped on a sweater there, and slowly but surely i began to whittle down my original bounty. piece by piece. one thing at a time. until i was left with my most beloved items, the ones that i felt the most comfortable in and that made me feel best about the reflection in the mirror. these were the garments i made the conscious decision to invest in, and the ones i believed to be worthy of my wardrobe collection.

i’m not gonna lie, the entire experience took upwards of two hours. though some items were no-brainers (polka dot top? duh. jeans that make my backside look bootylicious? yes, please), most of my decisions were arrived after heavy deliberation and with the assistance of a few phone-a-friends. but ultimately, i left gap that afternoon with exactly the items i wanted. nothing more, nothing less.

i kind of feel like we go through life collecting items, much like how i grabbed everything in sight from the display tables and racks at gap that day. we gather commitments, jobs, friendships, relationships, and a whole lot of miscellaneous junk until we can barely find ourselves from beneath it all. and it’s in these times that we need a dressing room to scale down our load. much like my time in that actual dressing room on saturday, i think these past few years especially have allowed me to streamline my repertoire.

there have been plenty of items in my life that had “hanger appeal.” they were good in theory. but once i actually found myself in that specific situation, something still felt off. on the other hand, there have been just as many instances that have surprised me in a good way. things or people or experiences that i wouldn’t have normally entertained, but the risk proved to be something truly beautiful and rewarding. little by little i have eliminated the unnecessary items in my dressing room. the things that, try as i might, still have no justifiable reasons for fitting into my life. the friendships that have become toxic. the old relationships that seemed to have a hold on me, even months later. i have learned to leave behind the items i have outgrown, the ones that never truly fit in the first place, and the habits that i simply won’t allow for me to play victim to any longer.

i’m making room for new things -experiences and relationships, ventures and adventures, chapters and seasons. my time and space and attention can only be spread so thin. i can’t leave the store with everything. and maybe that’s a good thing. it’s up to me to determine what is absolutely worth my energy and what i can realistically live without.

dressing room


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