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New Clothes and Missed Opportunities

September 8, 2004

I am a hoarder. I have always been a hoarder. When we were growing up, there were very few nice things in our lives, and we knew that once they were gone, there would be no more. Somehow my siblings managed to get around this. They enjoyed their new things, and didnít seem to mind using them up or wearing them out. Me, I saved anything nice. If it was a craft kit, I rationed it severely, allowing myself to do only a little bit at a time. It might be weeks or months before I allowed myself to even open it, to go beyond admiring the nice packaging. If it was candy, I hid it and rationed it piece by piece till it was stale and hard. I really donít know why I took hoarding to such an extreme. I never envied my siblings for enjoying their nice stuff, either. If anything, I was a bit smug that my stuff would still be there long after theirs was worn out or used up.

When I left home and got a job and had money for luxuries, I bought cute clothes and enjoyed wearing them. Since I didnít wear anything nice to work, I never wore out my good clothes. I started gaining weight about the time my roommate left to get married and my expenses doubled, so I never bought nice clothes after that. Sometimes I would go through the boxes of clothes and think, ďOh how cute! ButÖ Even if I lost weight, I would never wear these things again, because they are so out of style.Ē And thenÖ Iíd close up the boxes again. I could not get rid of those clothes.

Eventually I decided to go back to college, and I suddenly realized that my current slob wardrobe would not do. I bought college clothesót-shirts and sweatshirts and jeans. Then when I finished college I bought interview clothes and nice things I hoped to wear at a white-collar job. Once I left college, I seldom wore the t-shirts and sweatshirts again, and I landed at a company with a very casual dress code, the perfect excuse to get lots of cute casual clothes.

Then I developed a new style of hoarding. I knew I wouldnít wear out my clothes, but I would still buy something and put it away, sometimes for years, for a time when I needed a pick-me-up, or in hopes of getting a job someday that called for dressier attire. 

Then I started losing weight. The first casualty was the jeans. I am very fussy about jeans, and for a long time only a certain store that I didnít visit much carried ďmyĒ brand. So, when I got there, I would buy three or four pairs, and put them away until they were needed. When I suddenly realized my largest size jeans were loose, I went digging. I had nothing that fit me! And I had several almost-new pairs and two pairs that even still had the tags on. Yesterday I went rummaging in the closet and took a census of what I actually have. I was sick to realize that my pretty interview suit is in no way going to fit me. I only wore it a handful of times. I could have worn it to work! And the denim jumper I longed for and finally found on clearance hangs on me. And a gorgeous suede top that Iíd forgotten I had. It fit me then! Why did I stick it away in the closet instead of wearing it for work?

The jumper and the suede top did it for me. I wanted them so badly, and I was so thrilled when I found them at a price I could afford. Why on earth didnít I wear them??? Memories flooded over me. Paint-by-number kits that sat until the paint dried up and therefore would never be finished. My first set of markers that I hoarded till they dried up. Latch hook kits Iíve never finished. Books Iíve been ďsavingĒ for when I need a really good read.

I donít buy many extras these days, but I do buy clothes. And then I save them because I canít afford to buy many clothes and I like to have something nice in reserve, and I wear the same clothes till Iím sick to death of them and hang on to the fun new things.

Not any more. Yesterday I bought a pair of gorgeous corduroy leggings. I wore them today, with the suede top. It was a bit warm, but I was determined to start enjoying the pants immediately and get at least some use out of the top. I still canít afford to buy muchóbut I intend to get full use out of what I can buy! I am going to have to go through my closet and drawers and weed out most of my clothes. It isnít going to be easy, because I know Iíll find more things Iíve put away and forgotten about. But, once itís done, I will be down to clothes I have no excuse not to wear. And I will wear them!

Regret seems a bit strong of a word for new clothing that never got worn, but they are symbolic of the many missed opportunities in my life. We only get this one lifeóitís up to us to make it count. There is enjoyment to be hadóbut we have to be willing to take advantage of it. Iím timid. Itís hard for me to take the initiative. But, I can wear new clothes as soon as I buy them!