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Weeding out the closet

By September 28, 2009Blogging, How To, Writing

benettonLate every August, just before school started, my mom would take me to the department store (Famous Barr, if you happen to be from St. Louis) to get my Back to School clothes. And I would pick the clothes that I thought I should wear. For some reason and year after year, I chose a wardrobe that really stretched so far away from who I was, that the fabric should have burst into flames ripped.

They looked like this picture. They were ‘outfits’ to the nth degree. They matched. They were ‘sets’. There was no flexibility, no room to move. I would try to wear these new clothes to school…and I would feel nothing but uncomfortable all day. Worse than that, though: I wouldn’t feel like me.

Before long, I was back in jeans, a t-shirt and sneakers. And in these clothes, my clothes, I could relax, soften, feel the appropriate contours of my body. I could breathe, laugh, have room to grow the way I was intended to.

I understood on a deep level that I didn’t like the feeling of the prescribed clothes. And, as I got older, the ‘wrong’ clothes took up less and less space in my closet and the days that I didn’t feel ‘right’ got fewer and farther in between.

By my senior year, I’m proud to say, I did not have one uncomfortable day. It was purposeful, absolutely.

I feel like my writing is following this path. Fiction is the corduroy skirt from Esprit; writing for SEO is the loudly colored, cardigan with the random pockets from Benetton…I’m weeding them out. And they’re headed to the Goodwill.

Actually, I feel like my life is following this path.

Can you get rid of anything that doesn’t feel like you? Do it. And replace it with what feels good. Pick what fits.

This post is dedicated to the amazing women that attended the Type-A Mom Conference with me this weekend. Their energy and company inspired this post during my panel about writing with authenticity.

{And if you need music to go along with this post, I highly recommend this. Turned all the way UP.}

Join the discussion 26 Comments

  • I love this. I love the visuals. I love the deeper meaning. I’m in the process of writing about this weekend, but not nearly so eloquently. I have to confess, that my writing has been sub-par lately and I know I am better than that – but it will take some time to clear out. But, I’m on my way.

  • Frelle says:



    I think I can get a much better idea of what I look like and who I am if I weed out the things that don’t feel like ME! :)

    Also, love the music.

  • Juli says:

    I can so relate to weeding out your life (and wardrobe). How did I let circumstance put me in a place where I have to WEAR UNCOMFORTABLE CLOTHES or live in a place that is not me? I will ponder this.

  • Edgy Mama says:

    Wonderful imagery.

    You’ve encapsulated what I did several years ago when I said, yes, I will continue to be a freelance writer, but no more grant applications (fuzzy pink sweaters), no more thinly veiled public relations pieces (high heels); and nothing I find dull (pleated wool skirts).


  • I don’t think we formally met, but you were one of my favorite speakers this past weekend. I related so well to the subjects you spoke about.

    This is a great post and I too, came home with visions of weeding dancing in my head. As soon as I can get the time change worked out in my body, LOL.


  • Ron Miller says:

    Love the post and the sentiment, but I think it’s worth noting that those of us who freelance sometimes have wear that Benetton sweater even if it isn’t the best fit because you have to eat. When things are slow and you’re looking for work, sometimes you take things that aren’t perfect.

    That said, don’t be surprised when you don’t enjoy it or it turns out not to be your best work.

    One last point: Julie is right that you have to know your strengths, but by the same token don’t be afraid to stretch and try new things. Maybe you’ll look great in that skirt (well, not me maybe, but Julie). :-)


  • Kellie says:

    Can you get rid of anything that doesn’t feel like you? Do it. And replace it with what feels good. Pick what fits.

    Funny enough, I’ve been thinking along these same lines for the last couple of weeks. Being more open to the things that are more comfortable has been quite helpful. I’m still in transition in a way as I’m trying to make sense of a few things, but overall, I gotta say, Hallelujah.

    Good post, Julie.

  • Great post! I really enjoyed it. You were lucky to have found a style that fit you at such an early age. I’m still working on it myself.

    Not even jeans feel that comfy when you first put them on, until they’re stretched out to fit your curves and worn in just the right places.

    I’ll be honest, to me you still seem to be a bit conflicted. I think if you were perfectly sound with your decision to drop fiction you might not still be writing about it. But then, you may be so joyful that you want to share it with others from many different angles. Regardless, your writing is always thought-provoking and I applaud you for that.

  • Ari Herzog says:

    Why do your blog tattoos include a blogroll, a list of categories, a button to follow you on Twitter, links to pages about you, your services, and to contact you?

    Your blog tattoos may be analogous to comfortable ragtag clothes, but the fact most blogs carry the same elements implies is more of a set than not.

    Something to think about.

  • Julie Roads says:

    HEATHER! ha! Interesting observation! It’s definitely the latter – I’m so excited that I figured this out that I like talking about it and sharing it. Also, though I did mention the fiction thing in this post – the idea behind it extends far beyond the fiction dilemma.

    I’m about to launch the new site: – and can not wait! I’m way, way on to my next step!

    And my wardrobe and style has miraculously expanded beyond jeans and t-shirt…it’s not so much about the what but about the how the clothes feel. And, I’m lucky to say that I have 2 pairs of jeans that were perfection from the moment I put them on!

    Heather – thank you so much for being such an avid reader and commenter…you make my day awesome on a regular basis.

  • Julie Roads says:

    Ari. Seriously? That’s quite a reach. That’s like saying that I’m wearing a set because my outfit still includes pants and a shirt. It’s how you customize the tools, you know – the content – that make the difference. And you are free to go shopping somewhere else if things are getting a little too status quo. That’s what freedom is all about.

  • Good! Now I can stop worrying about you and get back to talking about poop.

  • Mary says:

    I love this post, Julie. I still struggle on occasion with authenticity in my style, but I hadn’t considered that this struggle was actually happening with my writing. But I’ve been scattered for the past year, and I think you’ve nailed it on the head – I haven’t been writing what is authentic. Rather, I’ve been looking for the writing path I SHOULD be taking. Thanks for this revelation!

  • Julie Roads says:

    Mary, I’m so glad! My work here is done. LOL…can’t wait to see how your writing transforms.

  • Tiffany says:

    Gawd, SOOOOO needed this reminder. Your panel kicked ASS and was EXACTLY what I needed to get out of #typeamom.

  • Liz Jenkins says:

    I forwarded this post along to a client as we had had a discussion today about this. Well, not exactly this – not about clothes (but that’s not really what the post was about anyway) but about choosing the path and focusing on what’s important.
    I’m not a writer, but I find that your posts hit home with me and my work more often than not, which is why I enjoy your blog so much.

  • Andi says:

    Great post and life lesson. I think everyone struggles with this at some point in time. With clothing, shoes and make-up there are societal norms that say “you should wear this”, or “you should wear that” and the same things happens online (or offline in other areas of our lives) as well. From time to time I get sucked into the “you should write like this” or “you should write like that” but then words and ideas become constrained with no where to expand – the freedom to breathe, be comfortable, and stretch – is truly a gift and one that should be embraced passionately – despite the fact that there are still occasions where conformity overrules – those should be exceptions!

  • Alisa Bowman says:

    This is wonderful and so true! I’ve been trying to be more and more authentic as the years go on. Perhaps this comes naturally with age? The old lady who wears purple poem comes to mind. I think there’s a tricky spot when half of your closet is you and the other half is not, yet you still need to wear the not clothes because you don’t yet have enough you clothes for everyday. It can be frustrating to put on the patent leather shoes that don’t fit, but sometimes it’s a necessity. I think, anyway.

  • Ari Herzog says:

    Understood, Julie. It seemed odd that you were writing about uniformity vs creativity when your blog included more uniform elements like categories, etc. Then again, how can a blog really stick out?

  • Julie Roads says:

    Actually, I was really writing about finding things that fit you – clothes being the metaphor. But, I’m delighted that you got your own message from the post. Blogs stick out because of their design and content. But certain elements make them blogs – like sidebars and posts…and the things that go in them.

  • Moe says:

    I find at least once a year I feel over crowded and have to weed out some of the long term projects I’ve committed myself too. Thanks for the reminder. This weekend I’ll clean out my closet too.

  • I wrote this really, really long comment the length of about 40 blog posts. Then I erased it.

    This was a supercalafragilisticexpealadocious blog post.

    Need I say more?

  • Julie Roads says:

    Cheryl – that is fantastic…but I would have LOVED to have seen your long comment…if you should happen to resurrect it, please send it my way!

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