Cleaning Out My Closet: Reflections on high school


Elena Higuchi, Staff Writer

The inspiration for this article sprung at me on a Friday night as I deep cleaned my closet, sniffing out the clothing that I haven’t worn in years. The thing is, I have deep, sentimental attachments to my clothes. Each item is connected to some part of my life in the past four to six years, so I can’t just throw it out! But, alas, I’ll be moving out in three months (omg only three…) and I really need to downsize. 

In loving memory of my precious clothes, here is a college essay-esque reflection of my past four years, told through my favorite articles of clothing that I’ll be saying goodbye to. 

Black Brandy Melville Canvas Cargo Pants: 

These pants never really fit me. I grew up as a competitive swimmer, developing thick gluteal muscles and quadriceps compared to many of my peers. As a result, I wasn’t able to comfortably sit in the pants. But, as a stubborn freshman, I convinced myself that squeezing myself into these Brandy pants would somehow make me fit in with everyone else. So, I’d sit in class, barely able to breathe as I took shallow breaths and clutched the edges of my desk, as my vision blurred from the lack of oxygen circulating to my brain and my legs went numb. 

I wanted people to like me, even if those people weren’t kind to me. When my “friends” laughed at me for answering a question wrong in class, I’d laugh along with them like, “durrr yeah I’m so dumb haha” just so I could follow along with them. (Yeah, that was a low moment for me.) Similar to how I painfully constrained my ability to breathe with those pants, I repressed my interests, personality and desires to fit into groups of people who didn’t fit me. 

Red Pleated Skirt (Thrifted):

Like everyone else, I was isolated during the COVID quarantine. While it sucked, it gave me the opportunity to experiment with my own style (very much copied from Tik Tok). Similar to how 1970s British punk culture emerged as an anarchist rebellion against the sociopolitical norms of the middle class and past generations, my exploration of personal style attempted to rebel against the fashion norms of upper-middle class high school students in Irvine, California. 

Looking back, I dressed like every other girl on my “FYP.” But, I look back endearingly because I’m proud that I began trying to find what made ME happy. Plus, after going back to school, the Irvine style of dressing hadn’t changed much so I was TECHNICALLY still somewhat unique. 

Pink Pinstripe Dress Shirt: 

As COVID slowly ebbed down in my sophomore and junior years, I devoted myself to my newfound interests (writing, Model UN, art, musical theater, etc.) and gained confidence in who I was. I wore my pink pinstripe dress shirt to Model UN conferences as a competitive edge because the pop of pink stood out from the monochromatic color palette of western business style. I no longer hid my “loud,” outgoing personality, pursued my interests in global politics and asserted my strengths in public speaking and writing. 

Purple Patagonia Quarter-zip Sweater: 

Okay, so I’m not really getting rid of this one. But, my dad is asking for it back.

It’s senior year and I wear this sweater quite often. It’s comfortable and really warm–perfect for my in-class naps. 

While wearing my purple sweater, I’ve found some of my closest friends through Howler and Model UN, cruised through my classes (jk, it’s been a bumpy ride… like the quarter-zip’s zipper!), made great memories and had a lot of laughs. I’ve had a warm and fuzzy senior year. 

This article definitely paints my four years in a positive light, but there have been a lot of ups and downs, times when I really messed up (i.e. somehow missing the deadline to submit my class council applications three years in a row) and moments where I literally broke down in tears at school. But, luckily, since most high schoolers (including me) suffer from sleep deprivation and unhealthy levels of stress, my memory is pretty bad so I don’t remember anything beyond last week. So I honestly don’t remember anything too bad. 

High school has simultaneously been the best and worst experience of my short life thus far. But, as they all say, I’d do it again in a heartbeat.* There were moments that made me want to dig myself a little hole and stay there until high school was over, but no matter how bad “things” got, I stumbled through it and so can YOU!

*To be fully transparent, I would do it again, but definitely need to make some revisions. Please let me keep my memories if I had to relive high school.