When I was a little girl, my favorite pastime was playing dress-up. I preferred good-quality materials such as silk, gold and brocade, but it was not beneath me to wear fluorescent garb, tacky belts and hideous fake nails. According to my mom, and my own faded memories, I could spend hours drifting in and out of this world of make-believe, with no awareness of the passage of time. This was my ultimate play date, spending hours alternating and trying on identities, immersing myself in roles, experimenting with my sense of self.

Well, time has since passed, and so too has my incessant urge to play dress-up on a daily basis. Yet, once in a while, that little girl emerges. Yes, I admit it. Sometimes, when no one is looking, Sometimes, when no one is home, I ransack the closetwhen no one is home, I ransack the closet. Nowadays, I gravitate toward vintage clothing, funky hats and Indian fabrics, but the joy remains the same. I am dressing up in garb that I don't normally wear, but that puts a smile on my face. I am a middle-aged (well, sort of) woman still toying and tweaking with that selfhood.

What better day to express this inner child than Purim? The day when playing dress-up is embraced by Jewish children and adults throughout the world.

Why the costumes? Many commentators connect this tradition to the nature of the Purim story. Much of the story appears to naturally unfold, while in reality G‑d is hidden within the details. Esther masquerades as a member of the ruling Persian family, while practicing her religion behind closed doors. And Haman’s plot is “turned on its head”; instead of annihilation, the Jews enjoy salvation and freedom! So, nothing was as it seemed.

Therefore, we dress up as something we are not; we disguise our authentic identity with a fraudulent one. We choose attire that has no connection to the real person that lies beneath it.

So, here is the question: What if the costumes that we wear on Purim actually reveal that selfhood, rather than conceal it? What if, in fact, the costumes reveal something about our inner essence, about parts of ourselves that we don’t usually access? Perhaps the costumes that “put a smile on our face” are more than conversation starters and creative expressions. Perhaps it is deeper.

Maybe, when I was a little girl, those fake nails spoke to the sophisticate in me. It could be that the high-quality materials I chose resonated with the “never settle for anything less” piece of me. And now, the funky hats, the Indian materials? They most definitely speak to the bohemian in me, the free-spirited hippie that is not usually expressed in everyday life. It is an aspect of me that others may not see, but that I know exists and lives.

When you look at your children’s When you look at your children’s costume choices, what do they reveal?costume choices, what do they reveal? Perhaps your little pirate could be a brave adventurer. Esther and Mordechai? They may not always feel it, but they yearn to be courageous upholders of truth. A magician? Your son is playful and imaginative. The mermaid? She loves whimsy and fantasy.

What about you? Maybe the clown in you yearns to break free from the chains of seriousness and just wants to make people laugh.

Perhaps your inner cowgirl is a risk-taker who yearns for the great outdoors. And the rock star? She is that dormant creative force that wants to find her voice in this world.

Esther saw G‑d’s hand directing her destiny, and acted accordingly, even though it put her life at risk. The jewels and ornate apparel she wore may have cloaked her identity, but one could argue that they too reflected who she truly was. Esther was dignified, valiant and self-sacrificing. In a word, she was royal—inside and out.

This Purim, reveal yourself. Dress up with intention. Don’t hide your core; express it in all its glory. Use Purim as an opportunity to unravel those mysterious parts of yourself. Turn your identity on its head, and bask in the joy that is Purim.