An array of colors cling limply on their hangers in my closet. I lift each closer to my body, as if proximity could provide a guturral response. As if touching the fabric would create the right friction to electrify.

But physics wins again. No sparks. No instinctual response. A lackluster mono-chromo blue is chosen. It looks as tired as I feel today. This will have to do.

These days, the clothes of my past feel inadequate. They exist with little excitement for life – bland and wanting of a new flavor. I rummage through my suitcase in search of old gems. I try pairing a boring shirt with a less boring pair of pants. I try adding a different necklace, funky earrings, some red lipstick. Each time, there is an emptiness I cannot fill. “You’ve outgrown your clothes. Just donate them all,” a friend says matter-of-factly. Clean and done.

Outgrowing is a natural phenomenon. It started with my childhood clothes, which seemed to shrink every month, until a former favorite shirt became a crop-top (and crop-tops were not in back then). Then when I plateaued at the ripe height of 5’4,’’ outgrowing meant looking cooler, prettier, more stylish. I wanted clothes that would turn heads, but still ensure that I “fit in.” Those days, shopping was not simply a past-time, but a process of creating myself. I did not want to just be another Asian girl who took AP classes and was good at math. I wanted to be the stylish pretty one. So the wave of tank tops, cardigans, and short shorts came into my life. And stayed.

Now, outgrowing feels like a betrayal (and a way to spend extraordinary amounts of money on material goods). Outgrowing makes me wonder if discontent inevitable. If everything has an expiration date. If youthful spark is the ultimate appeal. Outgrowing is a way to distance from the past, expanding farther from the roots that once grounded me. Outgrowing is the path to an “outgrowth” in the literal sense – where a bright green hatches from its seed, reaching through the crumbled earth for air. Outgrowing has that instinctual fear of leaving familiarity for a brazened, bright world.

“Outgrown” in its adjective form is a label, the product of a past action. When I say I am outgrown, I mean to tell you the result, not process. I mean to say that we cannot deny the laws of physics. Friction requires a minimal force to create spark. Our touch is a surface level proxy of proximity.

I mean to tell you: Outgrowing is a natural phenomenon. And we cannot deny our nature.


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