I often get asked by friends and family back home if we celebrate Halloween here in Singapore. The short answer is yes. In fact, this year, we were even able to purchase a pumpkin to make a jack-o-lantern…there is a whole other story, that I won’t get into too much detail here, but which involved my soon-to-be 16 year-old daughter and knives and pumpkin carving and slicing a pinky finger and stitches and cut tendons and surgery and rehab…all in the last two weeks. Besides the obvious, the sad part is the humidity does not bode well for jack-o-lanterns, and the mold settled in quickly, so we had a mushy orange mess (mixed with a few blood stains) in less than 3 days.
So, although I write this on the day of Halloween Singapore time, there is not much to show in our household that the “holiday” is upon us. We just moved into a different neighborhood this past summer, so I am uncertain whether we will even get any trick-or-treaters tonight. It’s just not as big a deal here, as it is in the states. In fact, there are more Christmas decorations already up in every corner of SIngapore than anything that resembles Halloween.
In reality, however, I’ve never felt a big connection with this holiday. I’m not sure why. I have friends who still live for October 31. As a young child, I dressed up in costume every year and did the whole candy circuit with my neighborhood friends. And, from what I remember, I enjoyed it…I think. My kids definitely enjoyed the tradition. My daughter, especially, is one who has always loved Halloween…although, that may change after this year’s fiasco. I’m personally more of a birthday, Thanksgiving and Christmas sort of girl. I love celebrations around all of those.
But, why not a connection with this holiday? After all, you have a built-in excuse to eat lots of candy, while wearing a costume that allows you to have a persona for one evening completely different from who you are in real life. What’s not to like?
Just yesterday, after all, I sort of did just that….but it wasn’t for Halloween, and unfortunately, there was no candy involved. During my routine visit to my hairdresser, I decided to forgo the blonde hair that I have had my entire life, and try something completely new and different…a new persona perhaps? Kind of works for the whole halloween vibe, doesn’t it?
It’s interesting, however. I’ve been talking about doing this for a year now…but have always chickened out at the last minute. But, yesterday, for some reason, I felt emboldened and went for it. After my hairdresser Casey finished his handy-work, he asked me what I thought. I told him I loved it. And his response really hit home for me. Talking over my shoulder to my mirrored reflection, he leaned in and said, “It feels like its the real you coming forward.” Believe me, I get the irony in the fact that the “real me” means a fake hair color and a new hairstyle – and that these are superficial things. But, there is something deeper here.
At its core, what has held me back from doing this over the past year has been a fear of what other people would think. I’ve worn that costume of a tall blonde, somewhat conservative looking girl for so long, that it defined me to some degree. This new look and color is not completely over the edge by any means, but it is definitely edgier than the other. And I feel like, for now, it suits me and my personality so much better. The key point is that I’m no longer afraid to show that. Casey nailed it on the head. It’s not a new persona. It’s the real me coming forward in both a physical and metaphorical way.
It all fits so well with the journey that I have been on for over a year now, and which I captured in my recent birthday post. In summary, I’ve invested a great deal of time and energy to better understand my strengths and my passions. But more importantly, I’ve had to learn to let go a bit, take some risks, and simply allow the universe to direct me where it may. And through all of this, I have been able to slowly remove parts and pieces of the costume that I have been wearing for so many years. So… For this Halloween, I think I’ll just be going as myself for a change.
What costume are you wearing?