Accessorize Accordingly

“Remember who you are. Accessorize accordingly.” –Justine Musk

I love this quotation from the fabulous Justine Musk. It sounds like fashion advice, but of course it’s more than that. It’s life advice.

The first part says, remember who you are. Not discover who you are, but remember . . . because you are that already. You may have forgotten it (have you forgotten it? I bet you have, even if only a little.) I forget who I am sometimes. I think, I’m a teacher and a mother. Which is true, but those are not who I am: they are what I do. I teach, I have a daughter. But who am I when I am not teaching, when I am not with my daughter? And at other times I think, I am tired, or I am lonely, or I’m in the dark. But those, again, are not who I am. They are temporary states.

So who am I, at my essence, in my core? I am a storyteller. I am a sorceress whose magic is words. I am those things even when I am a teacher, or mother, or tired, or lonely . . . You get the point. What are you at all times and everywhere? That is what you are. All the other things are only partial, or only temporary. What you want to remember, and keep remembering, is the core.

And then, accessorize accordingly. We usually think of accessories as small, almost trivial things: jewelry, perhaps a purse or hat. But we know, or at least those of us who care about such things know, that accessories make the outfit. And of course the word has a use outside of fashion: you can be an accessory to a crime. An accessory is something that helps, or supplements, something else. So who are you, and what will help you be that, stay that, remember that?

I think material things are very important. We ourselves are material, made up of the same elements that make our world. And the material affects us: whether we live in a beautiful place, whether we can wear comfortable clothes, whether we have access to healthy food. I think the phrase “accessorize accordingly” means decorate your life, choose the material elements of your life, in a way that reflects and reminds you of who you are.

So, you know, if you’re a sorceress . . . dress like a sorceress. This is me dressed to teach class, but I call this outfit “Sorceress in Disguise.” If you have the eyes to see it, you’ll see who I really am.

Fairy Tale Skirt

So, who are you? Remember, and then make your material life reflect who you are, deeply and essentially. Dress as who you are, furnish your home for yourself (not someone else’s idea of you). I think that has two important effects: first, it keeps you from having too many material things, because although the material is important, we overdo it, don’t we? It’s because we don’t know who we are, and try to be different selves by buying them. But that never works. And it helps you remember. You can stand in front of a class talking about grammar, but underneath you will know: I am a sorceress in disguise, a storyteller whose words are magic . . .

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9 Responses to Accessorize Accordingly

  1. For a long time when I had to work in offices, I was a spy. I learned what workers
    think of, love, hate, what their life is like. Now I am retired and am elfin. I flit around
    and wish I had a dozen wands. I am on a quest to design and write about magic.
    Those workers were very helpful in that. Like the long ago tellers of tall tales that
    became fairy tales. An underground and now I am overhead. The gauze wings are
    invisible. But they’re there.

  2. jackiehames says:

    I’ve been trying to figure that out for a long time. I know I’m a storyteller, but there are other facets. Am I an anchor, or am I the ship? Maybe the ocean? (The sea has always been a big player in my life.) It’s a great question to ask: who are you when no one is looking? But it’s really hard to answer sometimes.

  3. maeryrose says:

    I like Phyllis’s comment. I’m trying to figure out how to be in a day job that doesn’t fit the core me. A fantasy of being a spy might do it.

    And I love this post, Theodora. I am currently reading Parker Palmer’s book “A Hidden Wholeness; The Journey Toward An Undivided Life”. It addresses the dilemma of working and living in a way that is true to our souls. I’m getting a great deal out of his book but it’s not near as much fun as thinking about my childhood imaginary identity of the girl who spoke to dragons. I wonder what accessories would go with that…

  4. I am an encyclopedist. As my blog tag line, I have “one of the few, the proud, the several centuries out of date.” I had many signs of this, but it never occurred to me that I might actually do this until just last year. How many career-books list encyclopedist or, for that matter, sorceress among the options to consider?

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