Innovating Through Artistry

Halloween Identity Instructions

In Author: Adam Shames on October 30, 2009 at 5:36 am

Sure, I loved the candy-accumulation of Halloween as a kid, but I think I love the holiday even more as an adult because it gives us rare permission to try out a new self, to experiment with who we think we are. In case you haven’t decided on (or whether to wear) a costume yet, here are my creative instructions:

1. Use the opportunity to truly explore an identity quite different from yours. Come on, time to initiate.
2. Consult your inside to figure out what you want to be on the outside. What do you feel like being? Whose identity would you like to check out? Look around your home for possible costume components that call to you to put them on.
3. Avoid the standard personas and come up with something that you’ve never been before or perhaps you are creating just this once.
4. Stay in character all night.

Taking on another identity is a great way to build the creativity competency of flexibility–your talent in appreciating different perspectives and experiencing the “other.” To be flexible means that you are willing and able to try on different coats and see from different lenses, to visit diverse neighborhoods in the city and in your mind.

It’s not easy to take on another, especially unusual, identity, even on Halloween. People want to figure out “who you are” and don’t have a lot of patience for something they can’t easily categorize. Here in Chicago I’ve found people are hesitant to stay in character even if well-costumed, preferring to meet you at a party with their real name and the literal “What do you do?” question. Screw ’em. This is Halloween. Commit to your identity, do what feels true to him/her/it, and forgive yourself later for any indiscretions.

Believe me, I know, as I was extremely unpopular last year as “Manimal,” the hair sprouting, woman-repelling hybrid man/animal; and almost entirely unknown the year before as the great Sufi poet Rumi (San Franciscans certainly would have known me and more actively welcomed my poetic proclamations). I did get some needs met, though, as “Mr. ExSqueezeMe” the year before (see shirt, minus a few squeezables, in photo above), where I used a glue gun to attach random touchable items, from a toilet paper role to stress balls, and encouraged interaction (and hugs).

You might get a kick out of an article I wrote a few years back when I was so taken by the colored leaves of the moment that I transformed into “Leaf Man”:
It’s Halloween and I find myself going down into the bowels of Excalibur, a downtown bar, to enter the Red Masque Ball. Dozens of Chicagoans are in disguise, and I quickly find myself chatting with a Martha Stewart here, a bloodied biker there, an assortment of devils and angels everywhere. I hang out with a large, green cylindrical walking bong, while Marilyn Monroe and several versions of felines purr nearby…” Click to read entire article.

 So Happy Halloween week to you, and may you use this opportunity to expand the confines of who you are and gain that special creative insight when you take on an identity that is not your own…

More from Adam, check out his Innovation on my Mind blog.

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  1. It was nice to tie in the concept of flexibility. Whether in a career, or just life in general, flexibility is important for success and happiness. It reminds me of the Taoist quote- ” Rigidity is the corridor to death; Flexibility is the corridor to life. He who bends will rise back up.

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