There comes a time in the year when you can almost see and hear the seasons change. It’s the first time in a while that you need a sweater, the leaves in the trees begin to dry and fall. The noise of people walking over them makes us realize the summer is coming to an end.
Seasons change inevitably. There is no human power that can prevent the summer to end or the fall to begin. Something similar happens with us as human beings. We cannot force ourselves to stay where we are for a very long time. Every day, every conversation, every experience, every laugh, and every moment of disappointment creates a reaction in our heart and in our brain. We could even say that at night when we go to sleep, we are not the same person we were in the morning.
When we change, we begin to perceive things differently. The things that we used to be passionate about are no longer encouraging. The people we got along with for a very long time, may be stuck walking around in the same circles you’ve left behind a couple of seasons ago. The clothes that are hanging in your closet might still fit, but they no longer represent who you are and what you stand for. Change is inevitable, but with change comes the immersive and unavoidable need to let go of things that are no longer needed or wanted in our lives.
But letting go is not easy.
Resigning is a political statement.
Change is political fashion.
Today we will talk about the political weight of letting go, and how this translates to the way we interact with each other, and of course, to the relationship we have with our clothes.
PEOPLE PUNISH US FOR LETTING GO
We can very much read the values of the place we live in when we visit a gift shop. Hallmark cards celebrate birthdays, weddings, baby showers, graduations, and promotions at work. These are all celebrations of accomplishments. These are additions to people’s lives that we like to much celebrate.
But when the bag gets heavy and we need to let go of, Hallmark looks away and far from being rewarded, we very often end up being ungrateful, or guilty for not knowing how to carry on. The decision to get married is as impactful to one’s life as the decision to get a divorce. Having a graduation is a huge accomplishment, but it also takes courage to say out loud one is not happy with a school or a career path and one decides to go on another direction. When we are in the need to make these decisions, we should give ourselves the time and space to recognize the courage to make this decision. It’s not easy to say goodbye. It is hurtful to get a divorce. It is unfortunate to be in the need for quitting a job. Unfortunately, there will be times when we might not have the support we need or want while we are in the process for making these decisions. But the best decisions are not always the most popular ones, and the truly political statement here, is that sometimes it’s just us against the world when we have to let something go. No support. No cheers. No cake to commemorate your breakup with a person who never respected you and quoting Taylor Swift “only tolerated you”.
I CAN’T DO THIS ANYMORE
The celebration for getting a new job or a promotion is valid and worth cheering, screaming, and dancing. But behind these happy stories, there are moments when one must step down because a work environment isn’t a good fit anymore, or because you are being overlooked, or simply because you are no longer happy and you’ve acknowledged there are things you can do to improve your professional career and mental health. This acknowledgment to say “I don’t want to do this anymore” is truly political. We associate resigning with incompetence, with lack of diligence. To illustrate these social reactions, we can think of the headlines triggered by Pope Benedict resigning in 2013, or the huge waves of social media attacks towards Olympic player Sharice after she decided to step down from the Olympic Games due to her mental health.
This social context matters, because it gives us the misconception that resigning or stepping down is something negative. We believe, with a certain evidence, that we will be attacked or punished by the people around us, if we decide to make a big decision to let go of something that is not working in our lives; whether that is a job, a partner, a house, a project, a business, or a career.
THE TREND OF QUITTING
Baby boomers traditionally had the idea that staying in one job / company, is generally a good thing. The stability of knowing where you are working, how much you are receiving and what to expect on the day to day translated into a predictable routine that they were able to follow for years, or sometimes even decades.
Younger generations are fairly opposite. The values of the company matter, the relation between the work that they are producing with their sense of accomplishment and realization is very important for them, and they will be eagerly looking for them. Now more than ever, we see people with more than one professional career. Singers who act and model. Makeup artists who do drag, perform, and to standup comedies. Writers who enjoy public speaking as well as producing social media content to communicate messages. When a project reached its endpoint, or when things are not going as they’d like to, they feel more comfortable quitting and switching to another career.
Younger generations are also getting married older and moving regularly in the search for a decent apartment and better living conditions. We are more aware that it is acceptable to say things are not acceptable. That we have the power to make things happen and change the path in our lives. In fashion, designers create the silhouette of a dress drawing the outlines with a pencil. In life, we are tracing our path with the decisions we are making, the people we are relating with, and the way we are constructing our daily routine. Procrastinating decisions, avoiding decisions, or pretending things are good when they are not, are all forms of decisions. Because living in denial or ignoring our need for change, is keeping our path going towards a place we no longer want to go.
WHEN SHOULD WE LET GO
There are still pieces of clothing in our closet that we like. Letting go doesn’t mean we should throw everything away and start over every time there’s an existential crisis. So how do we know if it’s really time to say good bye to our clothes, or to put an endpoint to a relationship, or any sort of chapter in our lives? Here are some questions we can begin to ask ourselves.
Does it still fit?
A shirt that no longer fits is only taking space in your closet. This is some space that you could be using for clothing that fits, or it could simply be space that allows you to see and move your clothes better along the racks of your closet.
The same concept applies to relationships, including friendships and relations with family members. We often believe that long term relationships are healthy and necessary in your lives. But there is no family correlation, and no number of years of friendship that justifies your mental unhealthiness through abusive actions or language.
There might be friendships or relationships that at some point were spectacular. A beautiful complicity between two individuals who got along, trusted each other and created several memories together. But as we’ve mentioned earlier, we are changing who we are day after day and there comes a time when we may not even have anything in common with this person anymore. The shirt of the friendship shrank, got bigger, or maybe changed its shape.
There is no need to preserve what doesn’t fit.
If you are scared of leaving, should I unwrap this fear?
Where are you going to find what you had here?
Why are you so ungrateful about this opportunity I’ve given you? How dare you leave after everything we’ve been through together? Everyone here is so happy, why are you the one who always seem to have a problem and be unhappy? I can’t believe you are giving up on * so quickly.
These are some common gaslighting comments when we are in the process of resigning or letting go of something. And it is completely valid to be scared of stepping down when we know that someone we care about is going to react with one of these comments.
What does this give me?
There are certain special items in our closet that we may not use very often, but when we do use them, an explosion of confidence covers us like the touch of the sunlight. It may be the skinny leather pants we only use in the winter but contours your hips. It may be a spectacular fur coat that makes you feel like the Greatest Star arriving on the red carpet. We have valid reasons to keep these items. They are not our go-to items to use every day, but they bring us joy when we take them out of the closet and put them on.
The closet in life is a little more abstract. There are no specific dimensions to how many relationships, or how many professional projects one is capable of continue to welcome in life. But it is important to stop and think every once in a while, what does this interaction is bringing to my life and if that is something that makes me feel joyful.
The routines of full-time jobs, family interactions, errands, duties, laundry, and bills don’t give us enough time to stop and evaluate what everything around us bring to our lives and if we want to keep them. But we shouldn’t wait too long for a massive cleanup. The best day to start is today.
WHAT AM I WAITING FOR?
If there’s no joy, and there hasn’t been joy in a long time.
If there’s no motivation to keep fighting for this person / project in your life.
If you don’t think that there is a two-sided relationship, with respect, trust, acknowledgment and compromise among the people involved.
If you think that you would be doing better somewhere else.
If you’ve tried with assertive communication to make things better, but this Is simply not working.
It is time to leave.
There will not be a celebration when you decide to say goodbye to this chapter of your life. Because as a whole, our world believes that everything that comes in in our lives is a good thing, and everything we lose is a bad thing.
And the best thing you can do is understand how big of an accomplishment is to stand up and say that you don’t want to do something anymore. Specially when you know there will be opposing ideas, attacks, and blame on you. The courage to say this outloud is political. And regardless of party, or Congressional District, we find the need to be political every once in a while.