I love Halloween as an introvert

I’m not sure why, but spookiness and social anxiety mix well

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Tom Pollard is a Life Columnist for The Cavalier Daily. 

Emma Klein | Cavalier Daily

The first Halloween I can actually remember, my parents dressed me as a lion.

Although a solid choice in retrospect, I recall the whole experience being somewhat startling and disorienting. Beyond experiencing some early onset introversion, my four-year-old grasp on reality just wasn’t prepared for the holiday. In my mind, the costume was more than a $5 onesie from Target. I was simply a lion now, and I didn’t know how to feel about it. How did this happen? When? I had no way of knowing. It was chaos.

My friends banged on the doors of strangers, demanding free confections. My parents started fires inside orange gourds after scooping out their pulpy innards. Tricks and treats were offered — but only as a kind of hypothetical question, devoid of an answer. The world had gone mad.

In short — I wasn’t ready. Indeed, the idea of my introverted brain ever learning to enjoy a holiday that celebrates disregarding social norms and an amorphous sense of fear seemed unlikely.

But — spoiler alert — I actually love the 31st of October. My enjoyment of the holiday started the year after the whole lion debacle, when my parents dressed me as a dragon. From the moment I slipped into the costume, things made sense. Being a lion was strange and alien. Being a dragon was natural. Inevitable, really. I felt detached from the person I used to be, and completely at ease doing things I’d never done before. Demanding candy, disemboweling pumpkins and even talking to other humans all became effortless undertakings. The dragon onesie gave me power. For a single night, my introversion evaporated. I was unstoppable.

My Halloween madness soon became a kind of ritual, the unrestricted side of my personality emerging once a year to do things I never would have otherwise. As a spy, robot and one time ‘guy on safari’ — you’d think a 6-year-old’s imagination would come up with something more interesting — I conquered the mean streets of rural Tennessee. My introversion has always ebbed and flowed, but for small windows of spookiness, it completely vanished. All the oddness of Halloween — including talking to random people — became something I embraced.

With each passing year, however, I found myself less and less comfortable going out in costume. As a kid who grew so fast I had back problems, I started to get more and more suspicious looks from candy-giving parents. At the age of nine, I stopped going out on Halloween — a much earlier age than my contemporaries. Thus, my unusual Halloween personality came to a tragic, premature end.

I still really enjoyed Halloween over the next few years, but the magic had vanished. Even when dressing up for high school parties, my introversion failed to evaporate like it had before. Indeed, I had all but forgot about my past antics when, last year, I was struck by the strange and sudden urge to go as the nonspecific concept of water. Why? No idea, but I taped 30 water bottles to my clothes anyway and went around giving out hydration facts printed on note cards just to see people’s reactions. Why not? It was only the next day when I spent 10 minutes in a self-checkout line to avoid human interaction that I realized my crazed Halloween energy had returned. It’s a tradition I hope to continue this upcoming weekend. I’m thinking about maybe going as a fishbowl. Or a cactus. I’ll workshop it.

Of course, I often wonder why Halloween causes me to behave this way. Am I cursed? Is the witching hour acting through me — using my body as a vessel? Or is it the costumes themselves which give me power — masks and facades which change my perception?

I have no idea. But I do have a lot of fun.

Tom Pollard is a Life Columnist for The Cavalier Daily. He can be reached at life@cavalierdaily.com

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