A Costume, Not a Mask
With fall’s crunch of leaves come great pumpkin hunts. Nostalgia rains (or reigns) like candy corn. In the purest form of Halloween, we engage imaginations and can “become” anything. As kids, our self-doubts received extra doses of empowerment with the words. “You can be anything.” We brainstormed, dressed up, and believed in the power of plastic capes and ruby slippers.
At a school, church, or in a doorway, we proudly displayed evidence of an imagination; our plan proved possible. Along with candy riches, we received self-power. Somehow we “earned” this bounty with our creative costume efforts, by being our best selves.
I’d argue costumes and masks were not about hiding. Then and now, this holiday is about trying on a piece of personality that may be masked the rest of the year. Without the filters of an adult, children are prime examples as they do this naturally. That’s why, if we are fortunate, we can spot Queen Elsa and Batman any day of the year. (Of course, it’s true, appropriate times for dress-up exist. However, I applaud parents who encourage this free-dress-spirit before the world steps in and stymies imagination.)
I remember the first time my creative efforts were stifled. Around first grade, I tried to convince a babysitter that my orange “pioneer” outfit was perfect school wear. She didn’t buy it. Now I respect her decision. However, looking back, I remember the sting of embarrassment; my spirit felt rejected.
In the right circumstances, cultivated creativity empowers. When my brother was about 3 years old, he regularly wore Superman attire under his clothes. “You don’t know it, but I’m Superman,” he’d confide with the right people. I have no doubt, in his mind, he “was” Superman. Today, (forgive the brother-brag) Joshua is an amazing father and successful businessman: a Superman of sorts.
As it was for Joshua, costumes propel powerful personas. For children, “pretending” is a minor step to “becoming.” Certain accessories, i.e., sparkly shoes, capes, and tutus facilitate that process. After all, kitty ears often make the best headbands. And who can argue with fairy wings?
As fall leaves swirl, I chew candy corn and ponder my childhood ways. Back then I wore a brave tutu. Might I choose to confidently cling to the power of possibility once more? I’ll treat myself and, when needed, trick self-doubt. What if, like my brother, we choose to put on the most important pieces first? Perhaps this process connects core truths. It may not be a Superman costume that we put on, but rather a quality character trait like tenacity or courage. It will take practice. But sometimes pretending is the essential step to becoming.
Your Brave Tutu (You’re brave, too-too!)
-Take courage in delight. Discover power in small moments.