Growing Up Just Means New Costumes

Alec Davis

By Alec DavisThe Daily Northwestern

Halloween is by far the strangest holiday we celebrate as Americans. How the idea of dressing up in costume as frightening creatures and traveling door-to-door to beg for candy ever came to be is beyond me.

But as random and strange as it might seem, Halloween is a part of our culture. And more importantly, it is a perfect representation of who we are as college students.

The way we approach Halloween is an excellent example of the struggle of growing up and preparing for the real world while trying to maintain the care-free days of our childhood at the same time. It’s a reflection of the ways we have changed since our younger days, but also a representation of the fact that we’re still the same at heart.

Take the idea of the costume, for example. This is without question an idea that most people think of as being intended for kids to enjoy. Yet here we are in our late teens and early 20s, still dressing up every year. The ideas, however, have changed slightly. While we continue to dress up as if we were kids, the costumes we don today are, like us, a little less innocent.

Our costumes have gone from Superman, princesses and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to homemade mammogram machines, Catholic schoolgirl outfits and knight costumes made entirely out of cardboard beer boxes.

My personal favorite was from a certain unnamed friend of mine who dressed up as a penis simply by stretching a condom over the top of his head. The idea is still the same: fashioning a costume after one of your interests. Only the interests are a little bit different this time around.

And of course there was a reason for dressing up besides just impressing your friends. As kids, the goal on Halloween was simple: candy. Things have changed since then, but not as much as you would think. You still see packs of youthful people (we like to call them freshmen) wandering around in costumes, only now they are going door-to-door in search of liquor and beer instead of chocolate and sugar.

This is the world of the college student put into simple terms. The desire to take advantage of new-found freedoms in contrast with the desire to return to your youth, when everything was structured and decisions were made for you.

This is why we spend all Tuesday night drinking way too much beer and playing Mario on the original Nintendo.

Sure, Halloween isn’t what it used to be once you get past puberty. But at the same time, it’s hard to let go of what we know, so we adapt it to our different interests and desires. It’s a way to combine the older person on the outside with the kid on the inside. It’s a way to show that we’re more the same than ever.

McCormick senior Alec Davis can be reached at [email protected]