This morning, I put about ten pairs of socks in the trash. These were all still in OK shape, but filled a role for which I no longer have any use. Since changing jobs, I no longer have any need to dress in a business casual style, so a sizeable chunk of my wardrobe has sat untouched for months.
The worn-out Oxford shirts were the first to go, then a couple pair of trousers that I only ever wore to work. None of them were worth trying to donate, really, having been used heavily for so long. So into the trash they went.
The socks were next. I walk a lot and tend to go through socks fairly steadily, so my first thought was to just wear them until they were worn out, at which point they would be discarded and not replaced, but I found that they just weren’t something I wanted to wear anymore. At all. So they, too, went into the trash.
I have space in my sock drawer now, and it will not be filled with new socks. The point is not just to part ways with clothing I no longer need because my professional life has changed, but to cut away at excess until I’m down to the essentials of only that which is truly useful or that otherwise contributes positively to my life by being there.
Not sure when I’ll tackle the neckties, but probably soon. And as soon as I can find a good place to donate them, I’m parting ways with two of my four suits as well. I had three made in Shanghai before moving to Japan, on the assumption that I would need them. And I have worn them, but only about twice or three times each in the last six years, and half of those instances were simply to justify their presence.
I’ll keep my three-piece suit and my summer suit, but that’s it. The other two can go to someone else who can make good use of them.
I will always need a suit occasionally in Japan, so it makes sense to keep one or two around, but not four. That I had three made and not, say, just one, points to certain assumptions I had made before moving here that simply did not pan out. There’s often this sort of disparity in life, between what we thought would happen and what actually materializes as time goes by.
The disparity isn’t necessarily bad, and it isn’t always very big, but it’s pretty much always there, and I think it’s something we need to be honest with ourselves about, especially when we’re trying to reconfigure our lives.
The odds of me voluntarily going back to a job that requires me to wear a tie are extraordinarily low. So the ties can mostly go away, save the handful that I sincerely like to wear. And I don’t need a dozen pair of dark gray socks to wear with polished leather shoes. One or two pair is plenty. In fact, after a bit of care for the leather, the shoes themselves can go into storage until needed next.
Likewise, I can see clearly now that certain ideas that I previously had for work options just aren’t ever going to be something I seriously want to pursue. Those ideas, and their accoutrement, are best let go of.
There’s that old saying that you should dress for the job you want, not the job you have, but I’d rather not have a job that requires me to dress in any particular way. I say make room for the lifestyle you want by clearing out everything unnecessary tying you to the lifestyle you don’t, including the clothes left over from an old job you hated, to which you’ll thankfully never return.
I can only speak for myself, but I have found it entirely too easy to tie myself to one anchor after another, weighing myself down with old possessions, old ideas, old emotions. As I work on trying to shed these things, it’s a struggle, but there are also glimpses of the freedom and lightness that exists on the far side of that effort.
I felt a little guilty filling the garbage can with perfectly usable socks, but actually felt better after I did. There’s something freeing in letting go of things. Not that we need to let go of everything, but I want to continue letting go of the things that are weighing me down in my life, getting rid of what is no longer needed, so that there is more room in my life for growth and for joy.