Have you ever:
Grown out of a shirt that you absolutely loved? I have a few pieces of clothing that—to this day—are sitting safely in my drawers, with the rest of my childhood.
Why do I keep them?
Because each represents a time, a particular set of memories, or a particular group of people/events/places that have rooted themselves deep into my life’s journey.
Example #1: Fuschia Pink, Pooh Bear T-Shirt
Feelings associated with
- Her and I adored (adore?) Pooh Bear—and the whole crew. I always identified closely to Tigger, just as a sidenote. Mom and I have a picture where we are both wearing Pooh-related paraphernalia.
2. My childhood
- I was young and obsessed with Pooh. (No funniness intended there, though if you get a laugh from it, who am I to stifle your comedic perspective?)
Example #2: Jersey Grey, N’Sync T-Shirt (Band Photo on the Front)
Feelings associated with
- You were either N’Sync or Backstreet Boys—and let’s be real; if you were Backstreet Boys, you belonged with the forty-year-old moms. (No offense, Mom—they have some inklings of talent and choreography skills.)
2. My sister
She bought me the shirt while she was on a trip with a friend to Florida. (This was one article of clothing that was associated with her, but it wasn’t something I had to steal from her closet or drawers—and later be scolded for.)
3. My first concert
- Yes, N’Sync. My 9th birthday was, maybe, the best ever. High-five forever, Mom. Still love you for that.
We grow up and out of things.
The sleeves reach our elbows. The tank top arm-hole begins to dig into our armpit. The neck stitching feels tighter and tighter. Until one day, finally, something rips. (If you’re ever in my parents house, see N’Sync shirt.)
We wish we could stay in one state, one stage, one particular area of life forever; but sometimes, life itself takes over. Dream opportunities present themselves; your brother has a baby; your parent gets sick; your best friend calls with news; you fall in love; you take a chance.
Life doesn’t always come when you’re ready—but it does come. Always.
Though we can’t guarantee things like days of birth or days of death, we can formulate certain reactions to the growing pains that life allows us—and teaches us—to endure.
(Let me also make a comment here: in most of my writing, “Life” or “Nature” or “Trees” or “Person X” or “Anything-I-Ever-Mention-That-Is-Beautiful”, can be used interchangeably with “God”. And not God in quotes, as I just put Him, or God with a lower case “g”. God.)
We can’t guarantee x, y, and z, but we can create a frame of mind that allows to grow in spite of, or because of, these situations.
My Pooh Bear shirt wasn’t going to fit me forever—I was growing. And though now my growth takes place beneath bones and skin, and even though you can’t always see it, I can assure you that I have put away a few “shirts” in the last year or two of my life. And they don’t have Pooh Bear on them.
They have words like Shame, Fear, Self-Hate, Distrust, and Unworthy on them (to speak generally). These particular ones are also, by the way, shirts I never want to put on again.
Others, however, say happy things: Nephews, Tia, Cousin, Daughter, Daughter of God, Chosen, Worthy, Searching, Loved, Seen, Accepted. These are shirts I never want to—and will never—grow out of. They will always fit, and they will always lay near the drawers from which my soul armors, dresses, and protects herself.
A few new shirts say: Warrior, Bold, Adventurer, Proud, Willing, and Confident. Some of these words I have never learned to wear until just now.
So as I say goodbyes to those I love on one coast—a few shirts that sometimes feel too tight, and others that I will never grow out of—I realize that I walk toward a kind of growth (with shirts and skin and confidence) that will follow me no matter where I go.
The kind of growth that feels much more like those favorite sweatpants and track shirt—and much less like the homecoming dress two sizes too small.
We grow and we test and we try and we learn what fits right; not based on our notion of fashion or size, but based the state and purpose of our soul at that moment. We, like trees—or maybe just like human beings—set down roots that grow, and then extend, and then grow, and then extend, and then grow some more.
We—or maybe just “I”—never forget the salty shores or loving families, whenever we leave them for a time, or a season. We carry them with us—whether in FaceTime or memories—and remind ourselves of those places we can always find a spare wardrobe to use.
But as we travel, and meet new people, and learn the intricacies of ourselves and the world around us, we learn to create a suitcase of our own.
Let me tell you what I carry in mine as I go.
Warrior of Truth, Daughter of God, Worthy, Unselfishly and Unconditionally Loved, Daughter, Tia, Family, Confident, Confidant, Cousin, Sister, Granddaughter, Friend, Loved, Seen, At Peace.
Some are nouns, some are adjectives, some are verbs. All I take with me.
Until next time,