The costumes are in full display in every store I see. This week I went to pick up candy for the trick-or-treaters and was reminded of the many times I didn’t look forward to putting on a Halloween costume when I was growing up. For some reason, when I was younger I didn’t look forward to Halloween – the candy part I loved – but the dressing up part was never one of my favorite things to do. I would see all the plastic faces and plastic things to pull over my head (i.e. Holly Hobby) and, quite frankly, they scared me. I didn’t like the idea of putting on a ‘mask’. I also didn’t like the way make-up felt on my skin (I still don’t).
For one entire day children get to say who they want to be, and buy or make a costume, enjoy walking around their neighborhood and getting candy. For so many years, probably since age 13, I wanted to be someone else ALL the time. I wanted to have a mask so no one knew I was gay. I felt like I was always wearing a costume – everyday wanting to be like my friends. Then again, from the time I was about 13 years old, I thought everyone knew I was wearing a costume, and could see right through the façade.
It wasn’t until I was in my mid-20’s that I was able to fully accept ALL of me. Telling people about my sexuality came at a price. After telling people about meeting a woman (who later became my life partner), some friends stopped talking to me. Although it hurt at first, it did show me the difference between false relationships and true friendships. It allowed me to come to a deeper acceptance of who I am.
Later, my costume came when I would interview or start new jobs. I wanted to fit in and kept my life a secret. I wore the office costume to fit in. This didn’t work either as I could only wear the mask for so long before it didn’t fit any longer.
Throughout my life I have worn many costumes to fit in, to belong, and to have people see me in ways that I believed would bring acceptance. In the end, none of the costumes fit because they weren’t real. The only person I need to be is me and that is the best treat of all.
What costume are you still wearing in life? This Halloween, take the mask off and see what treats are awaiting you!