10 things you don’t need in your closet.

My parents sent me a stun gun as part of a care package in college.

I figured I should open with that, so that when I say, “I found my stun gun in a shoe box in the back of my closet over the weekend” – ya’ll don’t think I’m the kind of girl who A) knows where to buy a stun gun, and B) keeps it in a shoe box in the back of her closet. Nestled next to a scarf and a pair of high heels. Because that’s where it was. Who knows why. Who packed THAT box when I was moving?

Me. I packed it. I packed all of my boxes. And when I ran across that stun gun, I was probably like, “Well, I don’t have a box marked ‘Weapons’ …. sooo let’s just put it in this shoe box. That should be fine.”

That makes about as much sense as me having a stun gun in the first place.

My parents sent it to me when I was a freshman in college as a… present? Warning? I don’t even know. (They aren’t crazy. They just, care. A lot.) I opened it in the lobby of our dorm building, assuming this was going to be… I don’t know, something normal. Like, a Tupperware container full of brownies. Or a sweatshirt. Or extra pens. Like I said, my parents aren’t crazy. They’d sent me presents before. But this was the first time they’d decided to send me a stun gun.

I didn’t even know what to do with it. I was afraid to touch it. I mean, it was in a box. And I don’t think it had batteries in it. But still. The box said, “high voltage”. Is that really something I should be carrying around in my purse? This little weapon of electricity? What if I shock someone on accident? What if I shock myself? Can I die from this?

“If you hold it up to someone for longer than seven seconds, it can stop their heart.” That’s what my mom said. After I called her to confirm that she did, in fact, mean to send me a stun gun. Part of me thought that this might have been an accident. A weird and unlikely accident, but still. My mother is the kind of mother who collects Tupperware and sent me boxes of mini-muffins in college. I didn’t know murder weapons were on her radar. Let alone that she knew where to buy one.

“Your dad bought it on eBay.” She said. Apparently you can buy them on eBay.

“What am I supposed to do with it?” I asked her. Maybe she thought if this college thing didn’t work out, I could be a gangster. Or a thug. Or someone who works the midnight shift at McDonalds.

“Carry it,” she said. “In your purse. Especially when you’re walking across campus at night.” Ohhh that’s what this was about. I had a night class that forced me to walk home in the evenings two nights a week. After the sun went down. Moms aren’t big fans of their daughters walking alone at night.

I didn’t carry it. I thought it was scary. I imagined scenarios where I would somehow electroshock myself on accident and fall to the ground twitching. I mean, it couldn’t DO anything unless someone pushed the button. BUT STILL. If anyone’s stun gun could accidentally shock them, from inside their purse, without pushing any buttons, I didn’t want it to be mine. BECAUSE YOU NEVER KNOW.

I didn’t see the stun gun again until last Christmas. (It lived out my college experience on a dark shelf in the back of my closet. Despite my mother asking – really casually, by the way – “Have you used your stun gun yet?”… like I’d forget to tell her if I tased someone on my way to class.)  It showed up in a bag – another one that my mother sent back with me to Chicago – shortly after Christmas. I guess she thought I could scare off a thug with a neck tattoo if I ever found myself in a rough neighborhood? I don’t know.

Regardless, I was inspired to write this post about “10 things you don’t need in your closet”. (There is no good transition here. I don’t want to be cheesy and say something like, “Realizing how much space my stun gun was taking up in my closet made me think about how much other space I could free up!”…. what space? It was in a shoe box, it was fine. But I already had the idea for this post, and the stun gun thing seemed like a funny anecdote.)

How to stop buying clothes you never wear.

I’m searching for a new purse, “for winter”. A black chainlink cross-body purse, to be exact. I don’t know what winter has to do with it – but I saw some girl in a movie wearing a grey peacoat with a black chainlink cross-body purse and black high-heel booties with big sunglasses and a long black and white scarf, and I was like “That’s it! THAT’S what I want to look like this winter!” 

I don’t know where this comes from. I don’t know why I see a random stranger in a made-for-tv movie and think that I have to change up my entire look for a season. It just happens. It happened with Peyton Sawyer on One Tree Hill when I suddenly decided I needed a leather jacket. It happened with Serena Van Der Woodsen on Gossip Girl when I decided that my “new style” should be “boho chic New Yorker-y”. It’s even happened with YouTubers. After watching two hours of Carly Cristman videos, I committed to only wearing neutral colors for a year. A WHOLE YEAR. 

My entire wardrobe has been decided by fictional characters and people that I’ve never met in real life. That’s probably normal, right? 

The worst part is that there is a tiny part of me (a TINY, tiny part of – the part that hears a noise in the middle of the night and is convinced there’s a murderer outside) truly believes that this new jacket or scarf or pair of tan suede boots is going to alter my identity. I mean – not totally, it’s not like I think I’m going to become a transformer just because I’m wearing new skinny jeans with fake pockets – but like… a little. 

“These jeans would make me look so skinny!” I think to myself. “I could wear with them with anything! People will see me on the street and think, ‘wow! look at that super skinny girl!…'” I don’t know why my thoughts consider other people looking at me and commenting that I’m skinny. This motivation doesn’t seem to work when I need to go to the gym – but spending $50 on jeans? Totally. “But I need new jeans anyway!,” I think to myself. ” I mean… sure I have jeans at home, that I CAN wear… ‘TECHNICALLY’… but they’re not THESE jeans. I don’t have THESE jeans at home. Therefore, I need new jeans.” 

Spoiler alert: Did NOT need new jeans. 

How to dress yourself skinny.

I like to call this pose – that thing you do when someone says “look natural” and you totally DO NOT LOOK NATURAL. Fashion bloggers use all of these tips and tricks when they’re trying to model. Like “stand on the balls of your feet” and “stand with one foot in front of the other” and “know your angles”

What are my angles? I knew I should have practiced this in the mirror before we left the house.

Eventually my boyfriend, who is also my extremely patient photographer, was like “What are you doing? Just stand still so I can take your picture.”

Look, I get it. You’re supposed to look natural. I mean, they don’t say that in any of the fashion blog-y photo tips, but it makes sense to look natural as opposed to someone who looks stiff and uncomfortable. So I strive to “look natural” –  but not like TOO natural, because my ACTUAL natural state is  “slouched over with an occasional case of Resting Bitch Face”, so… you know. It’s really all about trying to look skinny. Right?

This concept was lost on me as a teenager. I didn’t know know how to look skinny in pictures. I was just doing what all of my friends were doing and wondering why I – being 5’9″ and 155 pounds – didn’t look like my friends who were 5’3″ and small enough to say things like “Ugh. They didn’t have a size zero, and the size two was too big!” 

I’ve never been “fat” fat, but I’ve also never been thin enough to complain about swimming in a size two. When you’re sixteen and buying clothes that are literally three times larger than that of all of your friends – it can make you feel “fat” fat. In my mind, my friends looked like normal teenage girls, and I looked like the momma duck. I had these hips that made me “curvy”, and a stomach that was – I don’t know, enough to make me uncomfortable wearing a bikini.

So I tried to fit in. I mean – I didn’t try TOO hard, because it wasn’t like I started doing sit-ups or trying to cut out pizza, which would have been the healthy way – but I learned that if I stopped trying to wear “belly shirts” (yea, remember when those were a thing?) and low-rise jeans, I could LOOK thinner. MAGIC. Optical illusions. Laziness.