I’m thinking balls are to men what purses are to women. It’s just a little bag, but we feel naked in public without it.
—Carrie Bradshaw, Sex & the City
There are those days after work where all you want to do is get home and sit on your couch and watch Bravo. This process is often impeded by one thing—my ridiculously large purse. Actually, it is not a purse. It is a bag. On most days it is more of a sack and I am pretty sure it is holding back my life.
Now, I have always been fascinated with bags. I even wrote my thesis paper in grad school on the audacity that clear bags were all the fashion rage (why would you want someone to see inside your bag? Like Regina George’s hair, it’s full of secrets). I’d like to say I own Chanel, Louis Vuitton, and a Celine but alas those are only goals right now because I do have to eat every day.
My bag obsession turned ugly when somewhere between college and being a working adult I developed this insane need to bring as much stuff with me as possible everywhere I go. Perhaps it is the Girl Scout in me that likes to be prepared for every situation (and by situation I mean going to an impromptu happy hour after work) or maybe it is just my indecisiveness in deciding what to wear. What if it gets a little colder throughout the day? Perfect opportunity to wear one of my scarves. Maybe I need a cuter pair of flats to wear to happy hour even though I am already wearing a perfectly cute pair? What if I suddenly get the energy to go to the gym? Then I need my clothes and sneakers.
It is this kind of thinking that has led me to become a full-on bag lady and it is a problem. Eventually I started chucking a stylish but slightly smaller bag out the window for a one of those giant Lands’ End tote bags. Every day my coworkers asked me if I was going on vacation. Most New Yorkers don’t have cars so you do tend to carry a lot, but this was a problem.
I was like Mary Poppins whose bag could fit lamps and chairs except unlike Mary I was not practically perfect in any way. I could never ever find my keys or my wallet. I was that person in line you hated. You know what I always could find though? A tampon. Those would just come jumping out of my bag like a Mexican jumping bean.
Eventually, I started to realize that this need to carry everything with me was about a bigger issue and less about the bag itself. My bag had become the equivalent of Linus from Charlie Brown’s security blanket. It protected me from the world even though it was its own toxic waste zone. I wasn’t ever living in the moment. I was just anticipating for the next thing and, in order to curb my anxiety, I was trying to be prepared as possible. This is not the worst thing to do except by the time I got home I was walking like Quasimodo.
So I ditched the big bag and made myself pack things in a smaller bag. Have I solved the problem? No, but I am trying. I am also realizing it is okay if I don’t have the perfect after-work outfit. Even if there is the impromptu rain storm, for the most part we can dress for the weather. I had to have a bag cleanse and change how I approached what I carried in my bag and how I carried myself. Here are my tips:
- Don’t bring your entire wardrobe to work with you. Make a choice in the morning and stick with it. Your back will thank you when you are 70.
- Make a point to clean out your bag. It isn’t a trash can. Think of it like a portfolio you would want to show people.
- Don’t switch bags all the time. Yes, there are certain bags that may go better with your outfit, but it means you will inevitably forgot something important.
- Something that has worked for me is to bring a medium sized bag with a smaller bag in it that I keep my wallet and keys in. That is useful if I run off to a coffee or a lunch meeting.
Have a bag tip that keeps you organized and simple, but still totally prepared? Need a hint on the best way to streamline your bag process? Share with us in the comments!
Ask Levo Mentor Soledad O’Brien, award winning journalist and CEO of Starfish Media, what bag she uses to stay prepared and keep it simple!