The Major Life Epiphany I Experienced While Cleaning Out My Closet

Purging our stuff is an exercise we should all do for life preservation.

woman holding stack of clothes DimaBerlin/ Shutterstock

"Ossiana, I can’t close the closet door again."

My husband had just made a valid point, and it was pretty bad. More importantly, it was bad because our bedroom flooded thanks to our upstairs neighbors’ shower. His closet was riggity wrecked, as Rick Sanchez would say.

Unfortunately, that flood was a sign from the universe. It was time to make sure that we get our lives together. And my being unable to close my closet door meant that the poor guy in charge of fixing this issue was toothless until I cleaned stuff out.


I had to clean stuff out then and there.

Here are 6 life epiphanies I had while cleaning out my closet:

1. Cleaning out my closet made me realize I need to get on the ball about modeling

My top levels of the closet are all dedicated to stuff I wear for shoots. Because, well, I model as part of my career.


Modeling helps me get my writing out there (oddly enough) and sometimes makes or breaks my ability to pitch a magazine.

I have a lot of clothes (like the ones pictured above) that were meant for photoshoots that got canceled or delayed. It made me realize how many plans I make but never finish.

Above, you see two botched clothing orders. At least here, I can pose with them even though they were too small to fit!

I quickly started to book concept shoots. 

Lesson #1: When you clean up your life, you start to make space for the plans you never finished. Coming across all those missed projects was a major wake-up call that helped me get back on track.


RELATED: 8 Closet Organization Ideas When You Have Way Too Many Clothes

2. How was I keeping some of these clothes around?!

I think that everyone has that one shirt or pants that they don’t want to give up no matter how long it’s been.

Sometimes, it’s a matter of the clothes no longer fitting you because you’re too big or small for them.

Other times, like my two Damascus Apparel shirts, it’s a matter of wearing them to raves so much that they get dank with sweat and drug smoke that just can’t be washed out. Trust me, I tried. I washed them six times and they even shrank.

I sniffed them again, gagged, and realized that these things are done. Eventually, they’ll be in the garbage dump, crawling around of their own volition, because they’re devolving into a new life form.


I then realized that this is a really good metaphor for the clean-out I did of my friendship circles a while back. It’s also a good metaphor for how I stopped arguing with misogynists.

Regardless, I ended up tossing out about four trash bags of grimy, torn, and otherwise unusable clothing. Yep.

Author’s Note: If anyone sees a pair of pants or sweater crawling around, please name the new species after yours truly. It’ll probably be native to the Hudson River area.

Lesson #2: Sometimes, you have to let things go that no longer serve you in order to make space for things that are better.

3. Throwing out some of those clothes made me realize how far I came


So, uh, this was a recent photoshoot, like maybe eight months ago? Big difference from now, right?

I kinda stopped wearing obnoxiously loud pants. And that’s been a staple of my closet for ages. And while I kept a lot of those pants for shoots, the truth is that I basically noticed a major shift in my clothes.

Lately, I’ve been going in on plain black tees, black pants, and solid colors. I’m slowly phasing out graphic tees and I don’t really care enough to keep my hair multicolor for the time being.

That’s been good for me. I’ll always be a bit crust punk and raver-y, but I don’t really look like the odd product of a human/parrot hybrid anymore. Or maybe I do. I don’t know, I feel like I got classier.


Lesson #3: Take a step back to see where you’ve come from and where you’re going. You might be shocked at how much you’ve evolved without even knowing it.

RELATED: 10 Uncomfortable Signs You're Truly Growing As A Person

4. Cleaning out your closet can show how little you really need

You know, I tossed out four garbage bags of clothes that I had for years. As in, some of those clothes were around since before I was pregnant with my kid.

There were some photoshoot clothing items I got that were very much "one-and-done" things that I passed on to friends. And there were clothes that were not in season or just not ready for a shoot until I find the right photographer, so they went into additional storage.


My closet became way barer, and you know what? I like that.

I only really use a handful of clothes day after day, week after week. It’s mostly tracksuits, jeans, and yoga pants.

So, yeah, I realized how little I really need in my day-to-day. It’s actually quite awesome and simplified my life a bit.

Lesson #4: You really don’t need that much stuff. You might think you do, but you really don’t.

5. Reorganizing your closet can also help you feel more focused

With all those clothes being tossed out, I realized I had a lot more thinking and work to do.

The first thing I did was move about 80 percent of my photoshoot props, clothes, shoes, and online video stuff to a designated storage area.


The clothes that I wanted to store? I laundered them, then made sure they had a label before I stored them. I’m currently chatting up people who want to do a couple of TFP shoots that we can use for magazine purposes and more.

I realized that having that extra storage space and getting a schedule of shots into place was a huge improvement in my workflow. Moreover, I felt way less chaotic about my schedule.

Lesson #5: Never underestimate how much having a clean and tidy environment can influence your workflow.


RELATED: How To Organize Your Closet To Benefit Your Wardrobe In 3 Major Ways

6. It reminded me that one good turn deserves another

Funny thing about doing a spring cleaning thing like my closet journey: it encourages you to clean up other aspects of your life.

Not too far after I cleaned up the closet, I started to clean up my personal finances and my mind.

Oddly enough, this made all of my motivation spark back to life. I ended up hitting the gym as a result. It was epic.

Lesson #6: Sometimes, just doing one big project is all you need to get you into your flow. So, don’t wait till tomorrow. Clean it up today.

RELATED: 50 Self-Reflection Quotes To Encourage Your Personal Growth


Ossiana Tepfenhart is a writer whose work has been featured in Yahoo, BRIDES, Your Daily Dish, Newtheory Magazine, and others.