Halloween is just days away. Not one of my favorite holiday times, but with a ten year old daughter, it becomes one every year at this time. Her excitement is contagious; picking out the character to be for the year, putting together the costume, and lining up the makeup or the mask. Anticipating the sweet treats, going door to door with our bags open, full of anticipation of what will get dropped inside.
I pick out a character to portray every year. Since she was a child, usually pick someone that she can identify with through a movie or show. One year, Dora the Explorer. Mary Poppins. Sally from Nightmare Before Christmas. Wicked Witch of the West to her Dorothy, ruby slippers and all. This year, I will be a witch again, because I found really funky tights to wear with my all black costume. She is being a hippie, and although that costume would fit my personality so well, we can’t both be hippies. After all, she is TEN, and that means, I am lucky that she still wants me to go along with her, let alone dress up…..
Anyway, this got me to thinking about masks, about the identities that we choose and put on within the span of our lives. I wonder about why people choose the costumes and masks that they do for Halloween. What makes the determination between wanting to dress as something really scary, really controversial, or traditional? And, it got me thinking about the deeper issue of the masks that we wear in life.
There was a time earlier in my life, that I would wear a mask with my friends; a mask with my family; a mask with my teachers. I would try to be the funny one; the loyal one; the strong one; the compliant one. But at times, they all seemed to be different one from another. There seemed to be different things at stake. I had different levels of investment in each type of relationship, although all were important. However, the older that I got, the more that I seemed to generalize whatever kind of mask that I would where to whatever company I was in, and it started to become more about what I was keeping in, then what I was portraying as my “character”. So, instead of wearing a mask of confidence and knowing of self, I was really using whatever mask felt comfortable so that my true self could not be seen. What if they knew who I really was? What I believed in? How I felt about anything and everything? Wouldn’t they become frightened, intimidated, angry? I was too scared to find out, so I kept up a facade that kept how I really felt and was hidden on the inside.
Over time, I have tried to determine what parts of self are really the true parts of self, and not just part of something that I have worn or created after all of these years, after so many Halloween parties and celebrations. I think I have had a great success in figuring that out now, by identifying that which is most and truly important to me, and that no matter what I show to the world, if it is genuine, and it is me, in my entirety, that is good enough. Maybe that will be a witch, or a cowgirl, or Mary Poppins. But, no longer to hide what I have within, but to show on the outside parts of who I truly am, with pride and fun and fantasy.
Just like we may spend an hour in the midst of the pumpkin patch, trying to figure out what hue of orange and how round or oval is the pumpkin that we are meant to take home, so do we ponder on and consider what we will show to the world by what we put upon our selves. No matter what you dress as, pretend to be or fantasize about, always let the true you shine through somehow.
Reminds me of this tune……..