By Lorraine Glowczak and Nicole-Raye Ellis
Halloween brings out the ghosts and goblins in all of us. Whether we are of the miniature ghoulish variety who knock on doors pleading for candy or of the larger type who honor their inner child by donning costumes no matter our age, this holiday is all about having fun.
However, that’s not always been the case. Halloween was once a grim event where dressing up in menacing costumes was taken seriously.
According to History.com, Halloween originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in) when people lit bonfires and wore costumes to ward off ghosts. Celts believed that on this night, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of spirits made it easier for Celtic priests to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter ahead.
Although we’ve come a long way from the time of the ancient Druids, the volatile aspects of everyday life still exist, and we seek sources of comfort as we face the daunting, and sometimes terrifying events that knock on our doors and enter our lives.
In my recent interview with the new Project Coordinator of Be The Influence (see front page), I had asked Nicole Ellis what advice she could give students on making wise choices using drugs/alcohol during our most difficult and scary times. Below are the words she offered as a source of direction. Although meant for youth, her wisdom can also be heeded by adults, no matter the situation:
Serve others: Try to make it a goal every day to serve others, whether that be helping a friend, a teacher, a stranger in some small, or even, big way. Serving others gets us out of our heads and enables us to feel good about ourselves.
Stay connected with family: As much as teenagers don't want to be around family, preferring to be around peers, it is crucial we take time to spend with family. Although they can drive us crazy, families also provide a larger perspective. Try not to discount their advice prior to even hearing it, as it’s their advice that may be exactly what you need to hear at the moment.
Develop real friendships: Most importantly don't succumb to the pressure to fit in or be “normal.” True friends, the ones that will still be in your life years from now, will never ever pressure you to do something you don't want to do.
Dare to be different: Sheep follow their shepherd even if it’s leading them to the wolves because that is the only shepherd they have to follow. Don’t be a sheep. Be a shepherd and walk in your own direction in your own way.
And, I’ll add one more thing - don’t let the unknown scary stuff frighten you, whether it is real or otherwise. Much like finding our way through a haunted maze, while we may not know what is going to happen next, it can be an adventure of discovery.