Not-So-Spooky Season

As a high school student, Halloween isn’t quite what it used to be.


Courtesy of Alicia Hamm

The meaning of Halloween has changed through the years, and so have I.

Years ago, as a naive elementary school student with a love for fantasy, Halloween was one of my favorite events. Nothing was more exciting than assuming a different identity, venturing through the neighborhood with my friends, and collecting heaps of candy on the last day of October. For several hours, the world seemed to transform into a land of magic, a temporary escape from reality. However, the allure of Halloween faded as I approached high school. I began to view the world through a more mature lens, and the value of pretending lost its appeal. The shift in my attitude toward Halloween has become a symbol of the personal changes I experienced as I matured. Not only did I outgrow my childhood, but I abandoned much of the fun that came with it.

In middle school, when I was beginning to lose interest in Halloween, I tried to deny the changes I was undergoing. For a while, I forced myself to dress up and find enjoyment in the holiday, but eighth grade was when everything changed. On the morning of Halloween, I scraped together a cat costume that consisted of a black sweater, jeans, gloves, and clip-on ears. When I arrived at school, I had an epiphany while sitting in the backseat of the car: the “holiday” of Halloween was useless, and I probably looked ridiculous in my half-baked costume. I was too old for this. I ripped off the clip-on cat ears and hid them in my backpack before walking into school as if it were any other day of the year. Ever since then, I have barely acknowledged the existence of Halloween.

Four years later, going into the 2021 fall season, I contemplated dressing up for Halloween again: partly for the purpose of this article, but partly to take a step back into the childhood joy I lost touch with. Unsurprisingly, I pushed back against my own idea with the excuse that on Halloween I would probably have lots of homework and be in the thick of the college application process. This internal battle made clear to me that my life had turned from fun relaxation to self-inflicted pressure and stress.

With the demands of high school and near-adulthood, it has been almost impossible for me to find enjoyment in Halloween, a day I once loved. For the past few years I have seen the event as a pointless excuse for a holiday, but maybe it doesn’t have to be that way. As unproductive as Halloween now seems, it was once a significant part of my life. After all, the memories I made on Halloween were among my most fulfilling ones.

There is a certain value to looking back on the joys of childhood. Nothing is wrong with remembering and commemorating the world of make-believe I once reveled in. Halloween will never be the same as when I was younger, but who said I couldn’t redefine it? Growing up doesn’t have to mean letting go of childhood fun. So maybe this year, four years after the fateful Halloween of eighth grade, I will finally take the clip-on cat ears out of the depths of my backpack and embrace the faded fantasies of my childhood.