Cleaning Out the Closet

I finally faced my closet the other day. I’d kept that side of it closed, the side where my work clothes lived, most no longer needed during the last two years. I’ve studiously avoided looking in there — at the suits, the crisp shirts, the dry-clean-only pants of a bygone era.

I took a lot to Goodwill. Things that didn’t fit and probably never had. Outfits stockpiled because they looked so good on someone else but not on me. Jackets that had been my armor in challenging meetings, steadied me during nerve-wracking presentations. I tossed everything into a box and stared at the empty hangers.

Who was I now, I asked the box. What did all of these pieces add up to? What to keep and what to discard?

Like so many accomplished women I work with, it’s been easy to lose sight of one’s worth and professional value, especially as we’ve moved through the stops and starts and stops again of the pandemic, as the old ways of measuring and defining our success shift.

“After two years of eating more, moving less, and staring at my every wrinkle on Zoom, I feel self-conscious reentering the world,” says writer Kara Baskin in a recent article in The Boston Globe.

Covid, the piece says, has made many women question “their self-confidence, self-worth and what the path forward looks like.”

There’s no easy answer here. But maybe cleaning out one’s mental closet is a good first step. Get rid of the skirts that are too tight, and toss the shoes that hurt.

Embrace what makes you confident again, the parts of yourself that have been hibernating. Assess your strengths and accomplishments. Get a 100,000-foot perspective on your own value and what you have to offer. There’s no doubt that change brings uncertainty but it also heralds a defining moment for a new and improved brand.

It’s not about clothes. But you knew that.

Rearrange. Remix. Reimagine. Step out into the world.