Derek Sivers

My old clothes don’t fit


I was uncomfortable, unhappy, and restless. I didn’t want to meet new people, because I felt I was giving the wrong impression. Something wasn’t right. It took me months to figure out the real problem: My clothes don’t fit anymore!

Once I realized this, I had to decide what new clothes would fit the new me. Like many of us, I looked to the style of glamorous and successful people. I should wear what they wear since it works so well for them. I tried on many of their outfits, but nothing fit. That was really disappointing, because I thought that’s why they share their choices with the world — so we can do what they do. I thought it would be that easy.

Eventually, after a lot of searching, I found clothes that are just my size. But I couldn’t get them on! There was no room at all. I’m embarrassed to say I overlooked something obvious. I was trying to wear new clothes on top of the old ones. I didn’t realize I had to completely remove my old clothes before putting on something new.

It was easy to take off my old clothes for a few days, but just having them around made it too easy to put them on again. They were so comfortable! I’d been wearing these things for so many years that they really became my identity. If you put my old clothes on a mannequin, it would look like me. What does that say about me, then? We are what we wear? Clothes make the man?

So, I had to completely discard them. It was sad — I thought those clothes would last forever. I documented them for archive’s sake, then gave them away. I’m glad someone else can use them.

In this transition, before I put on my new clothes, I’m naked.

It feels weird. I’m surprised I’m allowed to go out like this.

Old friends hardly notice, but new people I meet are confused and can’t tell why I’m not wearing something. An outfit would show them how I can help. (And that’s all most people want to know.)

But nothing at all? They probably can’t use me for anything.

I get invited to speak at events, but it’s clear that they really just want the outfit I used to wear. I explain that it doesn’t fit, but they’re upset that I won’t put it on just one more time.

Don’t worry — I’m not going to be a nudist now. That’s inconsiderate to almost everyone. I’ll put on my new clothes soon.

But I’m just sharing this story in case your discomfort might just be that your old clothes don’t fit anymore.

Mannequin photo by Oiluj Samall Zeid