When I was teaching, this day was so special for the students, so fun, I just had to participate. The best years were the ones when I thought of a costume that reflected a tiny, not often revealed part of me. One year I went as a rapper. Full disclosure: I don’t like rap. I do love music and teenagers and I love it when people find out that the me they thought they had fully figured out, has another interesting bit to her. My students were not expecting their math teacher to turn rapper!
When we lived on our acreage, we always only had one trick or treater. I guess in the early years we had two, but later and then forever we had one, Kathleen. Kathleen and Elizabeth were our twin sister neighbours. Kathleen has Down Syndrome and she loved coming to our house for Halloween with Elizabeth. Ours was the only house she visited, and in turn, she was our lone trick or treater once Elizabeth outgrew it. Most often, when Kathleen was not being a princess, she was dressed like a favourite character from one of her books. My favourite memory of Halloween with Kathleen was the Halloween that almost wasn’t. Jim and I always made sure we had some special treats ready for her when she arrived and we always had a special visit with her. This particular year, I came home from school around 5:30, and turned on the front light so Kathleen and her mom would know we were home. By seven o’clock, the doorbell had not rung and I began to worry that I had missed Kathleen. By eight, I knew there would be no knock. The following evening, Jim and I were sitting down to dinner when the doorbell rang. I answered it to the sound of ‘Trick or Treat!’ Standing on the porch, not dressed up at all, were Kathleen and her mom, Susan.
I said, ‘Oh, I’m so happy to see you! I was afraid I’d missed you last night’. ‘No’, Susan assured me, ‘She was just too worn out from the day.’ And so, for the first time, we celebrated Halloween on November first; the one and only year Kathleen came as herself.
If I’d had my druthers, I’d have simply gone as myself all those years too.
I’ve had this idea on my mind this week. What exactly would it mean to ‘go as myself’? The memory was sparked because I had an unexpected, lovely visit from Kathleen on Friday and we were remembering the years she had come to our house.
I’ve used this phrase, ‘go as yourself’, before. I’ve used it when someone I know is going for an interview, or going to an event where they don’t know many people. I’ve used it when someone is nervous about giving a presentation. I’ve used it when someone doubts their value in a group of colleagues and they aren’t sure how to show up.
Just go as yourself.
Exactly what does this mean? What I’ve come to understand is that we have within us many selves. We have our insecure self. We have our tired self. We have our confident self. We have our dreamer self. We have our creative self. We have a compassionate self, a short-tempered self, a know-it-all self, a thoughtful self, a generous self, a petty self, a hard-working self, a lazy self, an ingenious self and a captivating self, all within us. They, and many others, are all our true selves. The most wonderful thing is that we are in full charge of which one of them we want to pull out of the costume box and ‘go as’.
This year, our doorbell in our city house will ring many times and we will delight over the princesses and pirates and superheroes. But I’ll still be wishing we could open the door to Kathleen, just standing there as herself. It’s the best costume any of us can wear.
My inquiry for you this week is, ‘Who are you ‘going as’ right now?’
Elizabeth creates and facilitates custom workshops for corporate, public and private groups. She provides leadership and personal coaching for individuals and groups. Contact Elizabeth to help you identify who you want to ‘go as’ in your life.