How One Bathing Suit Can Disrupt Your Life

If you would have told me a few years ago I would have one bathing suit and wear it
repeatedly, I would have assured you that was very unlikely. Everyone knows to round
out a summer wardrobe a variety of styles and types are needed; one for actual
swimming, one for the occasional pool party where you don’t actually get wet, one for
when you put on some weight, one for when you lose that weight, and another one with
minimal straps to avoid tan lines. And of course, for vacation you need a new one for
every day.

I was raised poor and we wore hand-me downs, I remember getting exactly one new
bathing suit my entire childhood. It was a sign of achievement in my life when I could
finally buy clothes on a whim. And I did. For years I shopped regularly and enjoyed it
tremendously. Clothes proved to me, my friends and the world I was a successful girl
boss, I had fashion sense and I could buy stuff. I felt confident in a power suit wearing
envy worthy high heels and clutching an adorable purse. To be sure, my clothes, shoes,
purses and accessories were also a burden. I had to have built in closets to hold all of it,
my monthly dry-cleaning bills were enormous and I needed to constantly buy more. I fed
this material dependency as more people complemented me on my clothes and cute
shoes. I was in a self-imposed vicious circle I didn’t even recognize. After all, my friends
were in the same circle; we shopped together, compared clothes, noticed when others
were dressed “incorrectly” and shared the carpenters contact info to build the closets.

When I began my part time RV travels, I carefully chose my outfits and stuffed them in
the super small closet. Twice the rod fell because of the weight. But I was dressed super
cute at every campground.

By the time I decided to travel full time one of the big decisions I had to make was what
to do with all my clothes and shoes. Interestingly, I was able to easily get rid of my house,
my furniture, my beloved dishes and all the knickknacks I had collected. But I stumbled
with my clothes. As I sorted the clothes I was quickly overwhelmed. Why don’t I just bring
it all and see what I actually need after some time? Who knows when I might need red
high heels or a dark gray pinstripe suit with 11 coordinating shirts. (You know, match the
suit, go monochromatic, contrasting…I needed options.)

I needed reinforcements. I called my mom; she would know how to organize the tiny
closets and creatively store the rest of it. Raising seven kids with no money a family tends
to live minimally and efficiently, and she was a pro. Then as the kids moved out and she
could afford more things, my mom still chose to live simply. She was shocked at what she
saw. Afterall, I had been telling her and anyone that would listen I was moving into a new
phase of my life. I was purposefully downsizing, going with a smaller foot print, living
intentionally. I was going to travel the country, spend less money, and stop contributing
to all the junk in the world. It was through her eyes that I was able to see the clothes were
a visual reminder of my old life. My clothes reminded me that I had discretionary money, that I was successful. Looking at the glittery evening wear I remembered fancy nights,
coveted invitations. My shoes had given me the psychological edge of being able to look
at others instead of up at them. But they also reminded me of pain, wearing four-inch
heels for 12 hours hurts. I sat in the floor of my closet surrounded by my beautiful things.
Why was I having so much trouble letting go? My furniture was gone, my house was sold,
I was sleeping on a mattress on the floor. I was about to move into 300 square feet. What
was the issue? Was it that I was afraid people would be able to see that I am a poor kid
who lived in a rented trailer and wore hand me downs? Was I enough in a t-shirt and
shorts? Could I stand on my own in flipflops and one bathing suit?

I had one high heeled foot in my previous life and one sandaled foot in my new life. But I
was ready to commit to the fulltime RV life. And it would really begin with my clothes. I
didn’t need them anymore; literally and emotionally. I had made it; my clothes were not
my reality. They were not my personality nor what I had achieved. They had merely been
a cover up, a disguise. I was a poor kid; I had worn hand me downs. And it was ok.

And so it began, I got rid of almost all of it. I kept four shorts, four shirts, a handful of
dresses and one bathing suit. When that bathing suit wore out and the color was almost
completely faded, I bought one more. Oddly, in the three years of fulltime RV living I have
not needed red high heels or a pin stripe suit once.

Jenell Jones owns and operates the Wandering Individuals Network, an RV Club for the Solo Traveler. She travels in an RV across the country swimming wherever she can.

More Posts

Send Us A Message