There’s no better time than college to celebrate Halloween — no parents to make you give out candy at the door, no kids of your own to have to take out, and the holiday perfectly situated at the end of midterms, with perfectly skippable classes the next day. I mean, for the love of God, they call it “liquor treating.” What more do you want?

I, however, actually find it an extremely stressful occasion, and I don’t think I’m alone. Like many people I know, I consider my Halloween costume a statement of self. As such, my friends and I take costuming very seriously.

One of my friends, for example, always dresses as a pun. Last year, he wore a smoking jacket and carried around a box of Kleenex, telling people he was the Ottoman Empire circa 1913 — i.e. the sick man of Europe. Yet another dresses up as Marc Antony every year without fail and insists on wearing his toga all day, not just out at night.

And those are just the people who dress up alone — who go costume stag, if you will. Dressing up as a group opens a whole other Jack-O-Lantern of candy corn.

For starters, if you’re in a relationship, do you have to dress up together? If so, what do you dress up as? One couple I know is going as the Lorax and his tree: funny, though not the most flattering for the girl. You could go as Romeo and Juliet, I suppose, but what is that really saying about your future potential?

Then there’s the tried-and-true, totally innocuous pairings that have no consequences for relationship future: cowboy and Indian, Snow White and Prince Charming, principal and schoolgirl, slave and master.

But while Halloween can make or break a relationship (think of the fight that would ensue if the girl wanted to be Red Fish instead of the Truffula Tree), the costume theme taken on by a whole group of friends is by far the most volatile situation.

Another friends’ group who had decided to be anchormen is now back to square one after a different group of guys from their same year and college came up with the idea and got to the Salvation Army first.

And one question I’m sure is on the minds of at least one suite of girls right now: who gets to be the sluttiest of the slutty cops?

On a sidenote while we’re talking about cops, let me say: Just because you are wearing aviators does not mean you have a costume. They are an integral part of a cop costume, yes. They are not a costume in and of themselves.

Stop doing that.

Since sophomore year, I have been a great proponent of going it alone on Halloween. Why sophomore year, you ask? Because that was the year that my suitemates decided a Peter Pan theme would work perfectly for our sextet…and that I would be a perfect Smee.

There’s absolutely no way to slut up an old, fat pirate.

Smee was vetoed immediately.

Short of that, my suitemates said I’d make a perfect Nana. Nana, for those of you who don’t remember, is actually very cute. She even wears a little blue bow. But she is also a St. Bernard. As she chases after Wendy and the boys as they fly off to Never Never Land, she is caught on her chain and left behind, whimpering and watching her human friends longingly as they frolic in the sky.

Great. Just what I wanted to be. The only one of my suitemates who doesn’t get to take home a “Lost Boy.”

In the end, I dressed up as the crocodile — a slutty crocodile, mind you, complete with fake crocodile pants — because I didn’t want to be the only one left out of the suite theme, the metaphorical Nana looking longingly after my five Pixie-dusted roommates as they took photos and Jell-O shots. But when I separated from them mid-way through the night, I suddenly found myself unrecognizable, my identity entirely reliant on the group look.

That’s when I realized that Halloween costumes are, like most things, a metaphor for life. Dressing up in a group is usually fun, and often more creative than dressing up alone. But it’s also a huge pain in the ass, and one that, unlike that looming paper or that ubiquitous ex, is totally avoidable.

So I say be your own person! Liberate yourself from the Halloween groupthink! Go costume stag!

And don’t even get me started on the need to find a date for senior masquerade ball.

Claire Stanford will be sporting a sexy eyepatch on Hallow’s Eve.