What Donating Clothes Taught Me About Myself
I've always loved shopping. Some of my earliest memories were of me tagging along with my cousins on sunday's while they shopped in brooklyn. I remember the best shopping trips were the ones right before we went on any family vacations, i would get an entirely new wardrobe. Those were the glorious days. Fast forward 20 plus years and i am still in a passionate love affair with shopping, and i still feel the most joy when i enter a malls, anytime, any day. But a couple years ago in graduate school, i had a very low moment (pms induced) and became fully devastated by how excessive my lifestyle had become, and how my closet had expanded to two extra racks outside of my already full closet. So as any irrational and emotional pms-ing woman would do i made a decision. I packed six garbage bag full of clothes and donated it to a woman's shelter i found. Unfortunately when my hormones re-balanced, i started searching for items i had given away. This experience was the very first bout of me purging my closet, and unfortunately it was not my last. Over the last five or six years i have continued to make donations. Now i know what you may be thinking, what's so bad about donating to those in need? The problem my dear friends is that i was stuck in an endless cycle of donating because i continue to live in excess. I continued to mindlessly buy without thought into whether or not it was an actual need. And although some amazing girls and women are not owners of some amazing clothes, i cant help but wonder if donating is the lazy persons philanthropy.
Ok here me out. Do you ever think about who you are donating to? Do you ever think that rather than continuing to buy things we don't need, to which we will eventually give away, it would be better to live within our means and donate our time rather than give things that do not connect us to the people we are giving to? Right now behind my bedroom door are two garbage bags of clothes waiting to be mailed out to a friend who will give to her students, and the remaining will go to the goodwill. I feel guilt every time i realize that i can still fill garbage bags with clothing, i feel guilt because some of those clothing still have tags on them. Wouldn't my friends student benefit from more than the remnants of my bad habit? Of course to be fair, donating clothes or other items is not by any means a bad thing. I think we should give more, i think there are so many people who need the clothes and home-ware we have to give.What i am trying to impress on you, is that maybe the next time you find yourself having a garage sale, or having a spring clean out, to stop and think about what the excess of stuff says about our habits, and the message we send constantly to those in need when we would rather throw a bag at the goodwill for a tax write off, rather than look someone with a need in the eye and connect on a deeper level.
I too am at fault, i've been meaning to sign up to feed the homeless at my church for months. It is so much easier to mail that bag than it is for me to give my time and compassion to others. But the first step in change, any change, is recognizing our missteps and trying again to move in the right direction. The next time you are about to go shopping, think about if you really need too. As the spring cleaning craze is approaching, think about donating your time along with those things you no longer need. Make it a point to give less stuff and more of yourself. Because more than the clothes, shoes and other things we give, everyone needs to look into a face that is in need of compassion and kindness.