I’m here to share with you an important message: You will never care about Halloween the way you do in college. That sense of urgency — for planning the parties, the potent brand of themed drinks, and the shrewd calculation of assembling the perfect costume — will fade at the same precipitous rate as any childhood affinity. As a recent graduate, I can attest: you grow out of it. Which is all the more reason to make the most out of it now.
This is not to say that Halloween is immediately drained of its capacity to be a fun, boozy time the second you walk the hallowed stage of graduation; it just evolves from being an all-out event to being a foregone conclusion. Halloween, like every other major not-actually-a-holiday holiday, comes and goes every year, regardless of whatever costume you decide to wear (or not wear) or party you decide to go to (or skip). It’s not like Christmas or Thanksgiving, where if you ignore your familial obligations or forget to buy presents for your relatives, they’ll hold it against you, possibly even past the next time the holidays roll around. If you don’t go to the office Halloween party, no one will care or even remember on Monday.
It sounds mundane because it is. But the mundane, it dawns on you about a year after graduation, is underrated. Mundane is flexible. Mundane will always let you off the hook. Mundane is allowing yourself to say, “I don’t feel like doing this,” and following through on just that. What am I doing for Halloween this year? I don’t know. Maybe nothing. I have to work the next day.
But don’t let the specter of future joyless Halloweens keep you from enjoying yourself while you still can. Sure, some of your classmates will be offering a cool indifference to Halloween. But don’t be fooled. These are not more evolved human beings than yourself. They still care, enough so that they’re putting in the extra effort to pretend they don’t.
“No really, I don’t,” they might say. Don’t give them a hard time for this. And give them a piece of candy anyway. Our hearts are fragile and improperly connected to the brain, and that also goes for people who pretend to be above Halloween in college.
Because Halloween in college is a serious force to be reckoned with, its anxieties and foibles are a microcosm of the broader college experience. It’s not just about “what you did.” It’s about what you wore, who you were with and where you went with them:
“Did you go to Emily’s party at her parents’ house in the country? I heard they had a cauldron of bourbon.”
“Oh man, Nolan wore his little brother’s Superman costume and it was just hilarious.”
“GOD, I got SO DRUNK.”
None of these things matter to me now! It’s great. I feel free. But that’s because I am Halloween enlightened. The path to this state of self-actualization is paved with weird drinks, bad outfits and regrettable decisions. (If you end up spending Halloween night in jail, you’ve veered off the path to self-actualization and don’t have four-wheel drive.) And it is fraught with feelings of inadequacy, elation, and nausea.
Go to your parties and wear your costumes and drag yourself to class Friday morning in a hazy stupor. (If you had the foresight to not register for any Friday classes, good for you! Enjoy that luxury as long as you can because standard work weeks will never, ever give you a Friday off.) Go and care about Halloween as much as you can now so you don’t have to care that much about it ever again.
Chan, a former Daily Texan managing editor, is currently the editor-in-chief of Austinist.