Wall: Making more than just a costume change on Halloween

Maeve Wall

“What are you being for Halloween?”

This question has been circulating campus this week like the Selena Gomez rumor, and it can be met with a multitude of responses.

There are the go-to responses for the lazy or unenthused which are plans for costumes typically involving existing pieces of their wardrobes combined unusually or vaguely altered. These costumes often have broad, generalized titles like “hippie” or “cowgirl” or “lumberjack.”

Then there are the clever, intellectual costumes, often funny but aesthetically uninteresting, which I have to think happen more at Northwestern than other schools: like last year’s trend – dressing up as the BP oil spill or Hester Prynne. Finally, there are sexy variations of almost any costume imaginable. You can be a sexy civic official (fireman, police officer, postal delivery girl), a sexy animal (cat or bunny a la “Mean Girls”) or even a sexy object like a crayon: the only major requirement is a significant lack of fabric.

Discussing and then donning costumes, typically while inebriated, is ostensibly the extent of Halloween for most college students. But beyond the parties, one of the thrills of Halloween is the temporary ability to reinvent yourself. Since I was little, I’ve picked costumes that embody something that I admire or someone I wish I could be: a queen when I was five, a hippie in high school, this year – the rapper Mac Miller.

But the liberating sensation of self-invention doesn’t have to be limited to this weekend.

George Eliot wrote, “It is never too late to be who you might have been.” This week, it might be worth thinking about what qualities we wish we had more of, which traits we’d rather not have and bettering ourselves to meet those standards.

While I’ll probably never become royalty, maybe I can conduct myself with a little more grace. While I won’t drop out of school to support causes and use illicit drugs, I could work harder at pursuing my passions and standing up for what’s right. And while my swagger or rap skills will never match Mac’s, I’d love to have more of his ambition and self-assurance.

So next time you hear the question, “What are you going to be for Halloween?” Ask yourself, “What or who are you going to be tomorrow?” too. Here’s a list of ways to get started reinventing yourself daily or in the long term:

1. Go someplace new

If you hang out exclusively at the frats, make this your weekend to try a student production or art exhibit. If you don’t get out much, try one of the registered Halloween parties this weekend and test out the new, improved you.

2. Get involved

Even as a junior, I never stop lamenting the student groups I’ve yet to join or the ones I’ve let fall to the wayside. There are so many ways to pursue your passions at NU, and joining a new student group is a great chance to turn regret into fulfillment.

3. Take a walk

NU has one of the most beautiful campuses in the country, in my opinion, and a walk around the Lakefill or up to the Baha’i temple is a great time to appreciate your surroundings and think about who you are and who you want to be.

4. Go on a service trip

Going to a new place and giving back to a community with a group of strangers can be life changing. Keep an eye out for service trips coming up this winter and spring.

5. Study abroad

If you’re in for an even bigger adventure and a chance to truly reinvent yourself on another continent, consider a quarter or a year abroad. Most applications are due at the end of this quarter.

Maeve Wall is a Weinberg junior.

She can be reached at [email protected]