Happy Halloween all!! May your day be full of community, sharing special treats, and embracing the joy of being a kid and spending a school night running around eating candy with your friends and family.
This celebration is special for so many reasons, not the least of which is getting to dress up like the most amazing thing you can imagine. There are some costumes I’ve forgotten as the years have passed, but the characters I do remember were the ones I dreamt of being- a powerful princess, renowned for beauty, grace and wisdom; a popular cheerleader, leader of a group of sporty and connected girls; one of Charlie’s Angels, another powerful woman leading a group of powerful women, this time with gadgets, travel and espionage; and ate least one nurse, soccer player and FBI agent.
A day when anyone can be anything is empowering! We can choose to get a taste for being someone else for the day, give it a try. We role-play as our favorite characters, speak their language and phrases, use their tools and gadgets. We see how challenging it would be to ‘walk a mile in their shoes” sometimes literally! At the end of the day the costume comes off and is disassembled, stashed in a closet for another occasion. The boots are returned to friends or stored under the bed somewhere. Hair is brushed and makeup removed and we go back to being ourselves, happy to have experienced something new. Sometimes we hang on to elements of those personas, a catchphrase, gadget or accent. We hang on to the things that served us well, the parts of that character that we enjoyed and valued as a new expression of ourselves.
So what if we did that, even without the costumes. What if we took a day and tried on those characteristics we wish we were better at expressing, the traits we admire in others but aren’t sure would work for us. What might you put on?
I instantly have a list. There are a ton of things I wish I were better at! I admire how confident my sister is in the things that she makes. I’d like to try that on. One of my best friends is amazingly honest and has a gentle ability to share with her friends when they have hurt her, disappointed her or just aren’t acting at their full potential. That’s something I’ve always admired but haven’t been sure about. I’d like to give that a shot. I would love to put on a Chris costume and have smart conversations with people about things like technology and gaming. I’m not usually confident enough to participate in those conversations, but if I wore a Chris costume I would be!
I would put on a courageous costume and try out some braver decisions, take some more risks. If I thought like Julia Childs and was confident and unapologetic about my cooking I would probably be a better hostess, and mentally putting on a Mother Theresa costume would let me try out radical compassion and generosity. I could try on athleticism or glamour, adventure or spontaneity.
I want to try it. I know how good it feels to dress up as a confident character and own it. I feel so good about myself. I make faster and more powerful decisions. I go for what I want and what I know is right, for myself and others. I speak up. I’m more outgoing and open. I want to try on the traits I wish I had, even without the costume.
This week you can join me. I’m going to be thinking about the characteristics I’d most like to have and develop, and trying them on, pretending that I already have them, for a few days. I’m going to try them one at a time. It’s overwhelming and a recipe for failure to try to add all the things you wish your life had in one day! So start with just one. Take a few days and try to live your life as if you already are a wonderful artist, an athletic master, or everyone’s best friend. I know my life will look different, and I think yours will too!