Ok, it is Day 2 of my Clear Mind, Clean Closet Challenge and the food for thought today revolves around fear.
In the challenge I say take 10 minutes to jot down thoughts on today's topic. I, however, am experiencing the exact opposite of writer's block so 10 minutes is turning into 30, 40...
Here is the concept to write about: If everything you have ever wanted lies on the other side of fear, the question is:
And b. how do you get to the other side?
The fear factor is high in the start of every closet consultation. It makes sense right? You have this strange, yet lovely and qualified, individual that you have paid to invade your personal space, and go hanger by hanger through your wardrobe.
It freaks people out, whether they're good at hiding it or not, and rightfully so.
I'd go so far as to say that the 'letting go' portion a closet overhaul is probably the scariest part.
Full-on fear people.
There are so many ways to be freaked out when it comes to letting go of items in your closet:
- What if you let go of something you want to wear in the next week?
- What if you finally lose the weight and can get back into those jeans but you got rid of them and have to buy a new pair?
- What if you let go of so much stuff that you are left with nothing?
- What if you let go of so much stuff that you have to buy an entirely new wardrobe?
- What if the Earth spins off it's axis because you give away that blazer you got an amazing deal on that you never wear but you know you will figure out a way to wear it soon?
The opportunities for fear are limitless...and completely unsubstantiated. That's what I am in there for. To look at each 'what if' scenario, every potential (yet unfounded) problem and turn it into what it really is, a non-problem.
It starts out incredibly uncomfortable. It is scary and unsettling on a whole other level. And yet, going through this part creates the biggest change inside and outside of the closet.
It forces you to look at what you are gaining, not what you are losing.
I have personally never really had a problem letting go of things. It could be because, between the ages of 3 and 18 years old, I had already made four significant moves around the US (not an army brat, a retail brat).
Change was a constant for me and packing things up into moving boxes was no big deal. I started to see clothing as just 'stuff.' Stuff I adored and stuff I knew I was lucky to have, but stuff I knew I could live without.
I still move every year (a habit I'm eventually hoping to break) and it gives me an opportunity to look at what I've a. accumulated and b. been holding on to. That part doesn't get me.
Switching my perspective from focusing on what I am gaining as opposed to what I am losing, or rather, shifting my focus from what isn't working to what is working, is another story...
DEEP THOUGHTS BY B WITKIN:
If, on the other side of fear, is everything I have ever wanted, first I think it's important to figure out what I want. I've done that, as seen in my intention setting post here. Check.
When I start to look fear in the face, I can see that it has two sides. It just depends on how you look at it.
Fear can be the thing that holds us back, but on the other side of the coin, it can be the great change-agent and as such, shouldn't really be, um, feared.
Maybe that intense feeling of fear is a cue?
Well it's definitely a cue. I'm not talking lizard-brain fear deeply rooted in biological response. That, is a good thing usually. That tells us to walk away from a dangerous situation or take shelter when tornado alarms start blaring. That response keeps us alive.
But the irrational fear, the fight-or-flight response that bubbles up when there's nothing you need to fly away from or fight off, is I think what I'm talking about. When that comes up, and it definitely comes up for all of us in different ways, maybe it's a cue to take note and see what is behind it; if, there is actually anything real behind it.
DALLAS, TX | 2006:
It was a normal weekday and I was headed into work. We park across the street usually so I was circling up that insane parking garage for the, oh I don't know, 100th time. The morning routine was the same. How I felt was totally new and different.
"Did I eat something weird this morning?"
"Oh, maybe I'm just hormonal?"
I couldn't legitimize, let alone identify what the hell I was feeling so, I kept driving.
Up to that point I had been working my butt off in the buying offices as an assistant buyer. I was in a high-pressure office where I could extend one arm and practically pat the well-coiffed head of my boss, and extend my other arm to start typing on my counterparts computer. It was a tiny office. Like, shoebox tiny. Ah the glamorous life of luxury fashion...
Anyway, it was a time in my career when I was in prove-myself mode. I was working stupid hours, not because I couldn't get anything done but because it was just the 'way of that world.' Bragging rights came with an inefficient use of my time. I felt like I was important because I had to go in on a Saturday. The whole buying office would obviously collapse if I didn't...right?
So yes, not only was I delusional but I was getting closer and closer to hitting extreme exhaustion. Not, 'I really want to tap a nap' exhaustion. I'm talking, I-may-not-be-able-to-walk-a-block-to-Starbucks-and-back-without-collapsing exhaustion. An odd reaction for a twenty-five year old.
This level of mental exhaustion, let alone physical exhaustion, was totally new to me. I had no clue that it would feed on itself either. The worse I felt, the worse my work was, the more I would have to 'work' to prove I could do this, so on and so forth.
You know when you are running around all stressed out for a few days (weeks/months) because you need to get something done and then you finally slow down and you get a massive cold? Your body basically says, "Awww, you're so cute. You think you can go at this rate forever. Look at you? Yea, no. You need to stop." That was about to happen...
That morning, as I pulled into that same old spot in that same old parking garage with that same old sense of numbness in my gut, something very new happened.
I could NOT get out of my car. No seriously. Couldn't do it.
I sat in my car, waiting for something to happen. I could even see people walking past me to the elevators to go into work.
20 MINUTES LATER...
I called my best friend at the time. I told her, "Um, I'm sitting in my car."
She said, "Uhhhh, ok? How's the car?" I said,"No, like, I can't get out of my car to go to work."
She asked, "Are you ok? Are you stuck or did someone hit your car?"
I responded, "Nope. No I'm not ok I don't think and no, no one hit my car. I think I have to call in a sick day. I can't go in there. I can't do it. I can't even move."
My friend quickly responded, "Do it. Go home. Get some rest. Call me later."
I told her, "Thanks. Yea, ok I'll call in. But...I'm SO pissed."
"It's ok B. You're allowed to take one day off, seriously, I..."
I cut her off, "No. Not pissed because of that. I'm pissed because I really like what I'm wearing today and now no one is going to see it."
This sentence actually came out of my mouth.
In all fairness, I really did like the outfit I had on. I'll never forget it. I had a navy and white striped sweater with a boat neck, worn back to a wide leg, black sailor pant and a red lip with the coolest vintage bracelet ever hanging around my wrist. And no one would ever know it. That, pissed me off.
I pulled out of that spot and started driving back to my apartment. I was driving, sure, but I was totally disconnected. That, is when the real fear hit. I was tired, I was in my car alone, and I was scared because I had no clue what was happening so...I called my big brother, as a little sister does.
He told me something I will always remember. Following what I am sure sounded like talking in incoherent circles, he said, "B, I know it seems horrible right now. I know you feel scared. But this feeling you have is usually the one you get right before something really good happens. You can't see it now, you don't have to, just please believe me, how bad you're feeling now is how good you will feel when you get through it."
I didn't believe him at the time, but I trusted him and that got me home in one piece.
SO WHAT WAS I AFRAID OF & DID I GET WHAT I WANTED ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THAT FEAR?
I was scared to let go. Not of clothing, but of the routine I had created. The one that became my identity and left little to no room for me to look at what I REALLY wanted.
I was afraid to let go of what I thought I should be doing at that time and go after what I wanted, whatever that was.
I was showing up everyday without really showing up. If I let go of my routine and the 'shoulds' at the point, who knows what would happen?
- What if I let go and I became the worst assistant buyer in the history of the universe?
- What if I let go and have to find another job and it is just as painful or worse?
- What if I let go and lose everything I have built up?
- What if I let go and people start seeing me as a low-performer?
I took a few days off to process and settle down.
I read Eat, Pray, Love and laughed a lot. I did a whole lot of nothing and did it well.
I went back into the office a week later feeling all right. Not 100%, but all right. I walked back into that tiny room, the room I spent almost two years glued to my computer screen in, and it felt so foreign to me.
The room didn't change. I did.
It was then that I knew I needed to move on, I just wasn't sure how to make that happen.
ASSISTANT BUYER OF THE YEAR AWARD
Sometimes, when you put your fists down, life has a way of pointing you in the right direction. You can see the signs because you're not busy punching into thin air.
That week back in the office was an eventful one. I was the senior assistant in the office at the time. There was a lot of buzz between my fellow assistant buyers and I, that I was going to take home the Assistant Buyer of the Year recognition. Buzz is just buzz, but still.
At the luncheon, the senior team presented the award to, wait for it, the other assistant in my office. Womp-womp.
I literally felt like Leonardo DiCaprio must have felt at the Oscars. I smiled graciously, clapped along, and avoided making eye contact.
At first, sure, I was confused.
Then I thought, "Well that sucked. But wait, did I really want it?"
And then, I got motivated and started finding out what I did want to do, not what I thought I was supposed to be doing.
My fear lied in the 'what ifs' that didn't exist. In order to get through that fear to the other side I needed to look at what I really wanted. And that, scared me a bit. Thing was, I was more excited about it than I was scared of it so I kept moving forward.
So instead of focusing on losing an award, I kept my sights on the fact that I was gaining clarity and asking some big questions.
A week later, I told my boss I wanted to interview for a roll on the e-commerce side of the company because it was all so new to me and I wanted to learn more. Keyword: wanted. Intention matters. I still have to remind myself that on the daily.
Two weeks after that, I started in my new role as a site manager for NeimanMarcus.com.
I knew exactly what to wear on my first day:
a navy and white striped boatneck sweater, a pair of wide leg black sailor pants, a red lip, and the coolest vintage bracelet you have ever seen.
Day 2, done.
As you write, just focus on that. It isn't about hitting a goal. It isn't about getting somewhere with each entry. It's about being in the flow of that moment and not judging anything that comes out of your brain and spills on to the page/laptop. I'm the insane person putting my thoughts on blast and editing them. You, on the other hands, can keep them to yourself and I highly recommend not reading them. Just stay open to the process. It isn't instant gratification nor is it completely measurable. You won't be 10 pounds lighter at the end physically, but I promise you, there will be a shift internally. Trust the process, and have a little fun with it if you can.
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