Nine Ways to Express Your True Self on Halloween
Today is Halloween. Sure, you could go as the usual suspects—pirates and vampires—but why not do something different this year? Instead of disguising yourself as someone else, grab the opportunity to break out of a worn-out role and express your true self.
Let’s be honest. Most of us don’t answer our true callings and go after our heartfelt dreams because we’re scared. What if we crash and burn? And by that I mean, we lose all our friends, our money runs out and we end up homeless, unable to afford even a single can of tuna for our too-skinny cats who are now living on the streets with us. That’s going too far, I say. No pie-in-the-sky dream is worth that. OK… Wow… I’m glad I got that out of my system.
According to psychologist Rollo May, “The opposite of courage in our society is not cowardice, it’s conformity.” So having courage means being true to ourselves. But wouldn’t we all just run amuck then?
What if being authentic meant we still went to work, only we earned money doing things we really love? And we got to hang out with people we truly like? And we felt inspired and creative most of the time? That doesn’t seem so scary. But we’ll never know for certain unless we give it a try.
So here are nine tips for mindful costume ideas that can help you tap into the true you this Halloween.
1. Show your shadow side. I was raised to be a sweet southern belle and bent over backward to be nice no matter how crappy I really felt. Then I got the idea to dress up as a cranky old witch for several years in a row. It felt liberating to express the frustration I’d suppressed for so long (without hurting anyone in the process).
2. Amp up your abilities. Mary regularly dons costumes of female warriors such as Lara Croft to keep her Mojo going as she climbs the corporate ladder. Lea, a bashful songstress, transforms into Amy Winehouse—complete with tattoos and beehive—to bolster her confidence to sing.
3. Heal old wounds. Go as the person you really wanted to be when you grew up, not who your parents or teachers told you to be. As a psychology professor I knew plenty of engineering majors who really wanted to be psychologists, and psych majors who secretly dreamed of being poets.
4. Express your passions. If you like supporting people, be a cheerleader. Fascinated by hockey? Go as a goalie. I help people reinvent themselves, so this year I’m going as a cat. I love the idea of having nine lives.
5. Do the opposite. If you’re always a follower, put on the costume of a leader—maybe a president or CEO. If you’re often shy, try on a big personality like Elvis. If you’re a perfectionist, embrace your inner slob. These extremes will help balance you out so you can be who you really are.
6. Dress up as someone you admire. Choose a superhero or a real hero, such as Nelson Mandela or Mother Theresa. You share traits with those you respect, and you’ll recognize these positive qualities in yourself when you act the part.
7. Be an original. Even though no two of us are alike, we’re pressured to fit in and behave like everyone else. Jenny plans to disguise herself as her grandfather this year. She’s wearing his lab coat, name tag, and vintage pants, so one else will look like her. If he’s an original, she’ll soon realize that she’s one, too.
8. Crank up your creativity. We were all creative as children. The good news is it’s possible to reawaken your dormant creativity. Go as an Xbox or a blender. Take ideas that normally don’t go together and mix them up. Be Jules Verne playing electric guitar in a punk rock band. Have fun with it!
9. Go as you are. It’s not being lazy. It’s making a statement. You have many sides to your personality: your place in the family, career, hobbies, etc. Why not play one of these angles up?
You may be pleasantly surprised to feel a jolt of energy for a few days after Halloween’s over. Being authentic feels a whole lot better than conforming!
“Run amuck” photo © Stan White: http://www.stanwhite.com
“Me as cat” photo © Frank Leonard: http://www.frankleonardphotography.com