Lessons from Halloween Costumes: Trying On Change

by Jason Kotecki on · 16 comments

My favorite child­hood Hal­loween cos­tume may have been the Spi­der­man one. Granted, it was nowhere near as cool as the ver­sions kids have the priv­i­lege of wear­ing today, what with the form-fitting span­dex, built-in mus­cles and mask that cov­ers the whole head. (In my dreams!)

Mine was made of the loose-flowing, ill-fitting cheap plas­tic that resem­bled Spiderman’s paja­mas way more than proper crime-fighting gear. The mask, too, was plas­tic, and only cov­ered half of my head, held there by a flimsy rub­ber band. And the mus­cles were my own: 100% nat­ural and unde­tectable to the naked eye.

But I’m not bitter.

The weird thing is that even though my cos­tume was severely lack­ing in authen­tic­ity, it never really mat­tered. As soon as I slipped that mask over my face, I was no longer a skinny shy kid named Jason. I was Spi­der­man. Brave, heroic, and thanks to all the plas­tic, uncom­fort­ably sweaty.

Although Adul­ti­tis still tries to med­dle with and ruin Hal­loween — hav­ing to wear jack­ets over cos­tumes, any­one? — it makes me happy to know that dress­ing up in a cos­tume is not the exclu­sive domain of childhood.

Peo­ple of all ages love dress­ing up for Halloween.

But why?

It’s fun, of course. But it also allows us to be some­one (or some­thing) else for a lit­tle bit.

For a sin­gle night you can be a super­hero, a wiz­ard, a bounty hunter, or the undead…and tomor­row you can go back to your com­fort­able life.

We’re allowed to “try on change” with­out any per­ma­nent ill-effects.

We crave the end results that come with a mas­sive change, but can become over­whelmed and dis­cour­aged by the sheer mas­sive­ness of it. Why bother with some­thing that seems impos­si­ble? And yet growth, improve­ment, and a bet­ter life can never hap­pen with­out change.

But what if you incor­po­rated this spirit of Hal­loween all year long? What if you made “try­ing on change” a reg­u­lar prac­tice? Instead of com­mit­ting to run­ning a full-blown marathon, what if you just took the stairs instead of the ele­va­tor at work?

Instead of buy­ing an expen­sive cam­era, why not bor­row a friend’s, or shoot 10 pho­tos a day with your lit­tle point-and-shoot?

Instead of quit­ting your job to fol­low your pas­sion, what if you spent a half hour a day for a month work­ing on build­ing a lit­tle side business?

Instead of throw­ing your TV out the win­dow so you can write that 500-page best­selling novel, what if you swapped a half-hour of TV watch­ing for writ­ing time?

Instead of becom­ing a hard­core min­i­mal­ist, what if you threw out or gave away one thing a day for two weeks?

Instead of elim­i­nat­ing all sugar from your diet, what if you just started with one less can of soda a day?

Instead of pledg­ing to be the best spouse that ever lived, what if, before you went to bed, you just thanked your sig­nif­i­cant other for some­thing spe­cific he or she had done that day?

The nice thing about “try­ing on” change like this is that if you don’t like it, you can go back to your com­fort­able life soon enough.

You never know, though. It might just stick, and before you know it, you’ll end up doing things that once seemed down­right superheroic.


by Jason Kotecki

Jason Kotecki is an artist, author, and pro­fes­sional speaker. Jason and his wife Kim (a for­mer kinder­garten teacher) make it their mis­sion in life to fight Adul­ti­tis and help peo­ple use strate­gies from child­hood to design lives with less stress and more fun. Stop by www.KimandJason.com for more tips for escap­ing adulthood.
Jason Kotecki
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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Chrysta Bairre October 13, 2011 at 8:07 am

Thank you so much for this!

I live a great life not by having everything I’ve always wanted but simply by finding the joy, gratitude and purpose in my life.

My greatest accomplishments aren’t the big things that happen, instead they are all the little things that embrace in my day, such as trying on change.

A lot of little moments soon add up to a collective great life, and I’m happier and healthier than I’ve ever been!

By trying on change I can appreciate the small stuff, and make little steps towards bigger change. And in the process I allow myself the time to appreciate all that I have as I work towards my larger goals.
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Jason of Kim & Jason October 14, 2011 at 12:49 pm

Chrysta — great attitude! Those little moments really do add up to something significant, don’t they?
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Tim October 13, 2011 at 12:18 pm

Hi Jason:

Great post…I like your observations and suggestions. I can identify with how you felt in your cheesy, plastic costume. I had a very similar one. I also remember dressing as a clown, complete with crazy wig…this allowed me let out my inner clown rather than the normally serious side that I showed to others. If I’m reading you correctly, you’re suggesting we let out our inner clowns (or superheroes) every day, with or without costume. That’s a great thought. There’s probably a lot of “Clark Kents” out there who should be thinking of themselves as more like “Superman.” And vice versa.
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Jason of Kim & Jason October 14, 2011 at 12:44 pm

Yes! Love the Clark Kent / Superman analogy. The majority of people are walking around thinking they’re a mild mannered human being, not realizing that a superhero lives within!
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Sharon October 13, 2011 at 12:30 pm

Jason. This is the first time I’ve seen your blog and just love the way you write and your perspective. There are a lot of things that kids do that we really should try to emulate. I was giving my daughter a bath last night and she was 100% focused on the submarine she was playing with. When was the last time you gave 100% (not 99%) focus to anything? We make dinner while thinking about the laundry. We watch tv while sorting through mail and thinking about planning a vacation.

I love the post and I’m looking forward to reading more. Now I’m off to follow you on Facebook and twitter.

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Jason of Kim & Jason October 14, 2011 at 12:47 pm

Hi Sharon — pleased to meet you! Thanks for the kind words :)

The difference between 99% and 100% may seem like just 1%, but the chasm between them couldn’t be wider. We often take pride in being able to “multitask” without realizing how much we’re missing out on.
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Mike October 13, 2011 at 3:24 pm

Great article and I think that if more of us followed your “a little bit at a time” approach we would reach our more important goals much faster.

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Jody - Fit at 53 October 14, 2011 at 2:41 pm

This is a great post & I agree with Mike in the comment above! Little or baby steps can lead to big results, just like in weight loss! :-)
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Megan Bord October 14, 2011 at 8:38 pm

Oh man, I was just talking to a friend about those costumes — I can feel the sweat beading up on my face as I type this!

I like the idea of small changes and think what you’ve suggested is a great start. I’ve also found, though, that swinging the pendulum a little doesn’t always get me enough momentum to alter my life in the ways I truly want. And sometimes I need a really big shift (as in “jump off the cliff and fly, Tinkerbell!” — sorry, that’s the plastic costume I remember best…). Taking a leap and having fearless faith that a net will appear is also sometimes warranted.

But for now, I’m going to think about how I can incorporate the spirit of Halloween as you’ve suggested, and “try out” some changes I’ve been wanting to make. Here goes!

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Jason of Kim & Jason October 18, 2011 at 1:10 pm

Thanks Megan! Yes, as they say, it’s hard to cross a wide chasm in two small jumps. Sometimes only one big leap will do. But in a lot of situations, baby steps are always better than no steps at all!
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Jannie Funster October 15, 2011 at 6:41 pm

I love thanking Jim for something he did during the day. Or thanking him for several nice things he did, his usual day-to-day stuff that may have gone un-noticed. Nice reminder of that.

It’s the little things that add up to Big Luuuuuv.

AWESOME post, “Spidie” LANCE!!

xoxoxo
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Lance Ekum October 15, 2011 at 8:53 pm

Hey Jannie!
Glad you loved this one…although I cannot take credit for it, or for the Spidie costume. Nope, all that credit goes to Jason Kotecki (you should definitely check out his site – it’s all about FUN…and that’s something you rock at!).

Me…hmmmm….I think I’ll play it safe this year and stick with my pink wig…

xoxo

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Noel October 16, 2011 at 2:03 am

Hi Jason, what a great message you gain from Halloween. I love the idea of ‘trying to change a bit and get to switch back if it doesn’t feels right’. Just like me, instead of spending a lot and brave myself to take on a drastic makeover, I try something different each week: perfume first, then nail art, followed by new clothes… That makes adopting changes easier and less frightening :)
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Jason of Kim & Jason October 18, 2011 at 1:11 pm

Great strategy, Noel!
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Jen October 18, 2011 at 2:11 pm

Hey Jason,
I dig your vintage costume! It is more cool these days to wear the outdated stuff. My daughter is still mad I got rid of all my 80s clothing that is now back in style:)

I love what you preach here….I have pondered this every Halloween, about shedding a habit, trying on a different, changing my personality up a bit for the better. You make it easy and doable. What a great reminder that good chance is usually the small, incremental change.

A great read for me today!! Happy Halloween to you!
Jen
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Quote October 20, 2011 at 5:43 am

I’d really love to see Halloween here in Malaysia. Unfortunately we don’t have such festival here.
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