More Than A Costume

Media provided by Adam Winger, via Unsplash.

When we officially leave September and enter the month of October, the first thing that enters my mind is: it’s almost Halloween. After this sudden realization, it occurs to me that it is time to pick out my costume and that it has to be perfect. Growing up, I remember Halloween as the day I would collect my considerable candy stash (later sorting them by brand in the hours after trick-or-treating). My friends and I savored the pile over the course of the year, slowly indulging piece by piece. I would dress up with my two best friends as cheerleaders, robbers, Powerpuff girls, and any other trio costumes we could think of. Every year, the residents in my building would ask us as we approached their doors, “who are you?” The obvious answer was to describe my costume, but as I am getting older this question seems to haunt me. Now, I treat Halloween as no different than any other day.

Picking out a Halloween costume is similar to picking out the costume I wear in my daily life. Three crucial questions need to be answered to find the perfect costume: What costume do I wear? What will be the reactions to my costume? Do I like my costume?

“I costume myself as the person I feel I need to be and ignore my desire to show my true self. For me, wearing a costume is not exclusive to Halloween”

How do I make my costume the best? When I was younger, I would always choose what appeared to be the “coolest” costume: something unique and brilliant that no one else would think of. I would, ironically, end up wearing something trendy. This still applies to high school. I costume myself as the person I feel I need to be and ignore my desire to show my true self. For me, wearing a costume is not exclusive to Halloween; I cover myself in the same worn-out mask that I wear for the other 364 days of the year. As I get older, I ask myself if there’s another way: how do I escape this cycle of concealing the real me? I wonder this as I settle into the parts of me that don’t conform to social standards. As I explore my style, my personality, my social interactions, my sexuality, and so many more parts of me, I try to figure out who I truly am, apart from the mask that I wear every day.

Who will see me in this costume? This is arguably the most important step of picking out a costume. I think about every potential negative reaction: What will my friends think of me? How will my crush perceive me? Will anyone make fun of me? I go through this same recitation of questions as I pick out my outfit every morning, fearful of the judgemental eyes of others. I wish I could wander my city and school without caring what anyone else thinks. However, I am always thinking about how I am perceived. As I move forward in high school, I am trying to disregard the potential judgment and, instead, focus on the self-love that I can build for myself. 

Do I like my costume? This is the trickiest step: do I choose to comply with others’ opinions or disregard them? I often choose to mask myself on Halloween. Instead of expressing myself with a costume that expresses my interests and desires, I wear a costume that expresses those of others. In preparing for the impending date of October 31st, I’ve reflected on how I want to approach Halloween this year. I’ve come to realize that wearing a mask is exhausting, on Halloween and every day of the year. Just like a Halloween costume, I do not need to be what people want me to be as I ask for that extra Kit Kat. In order to answer that haunting question of who are you? I need to strip myself of the costume that has hidden the real Zamira all along.