Some nights are easier to deal with than others. However, on those restless nights when I cannot sleep at all, thinking about every problem in the world, I reach over to grab my stuffed animals. Yes, I am a twenty-one-year-old person and still sleep with stuffed animals. I have my childhood stuffed dog who is well-loved and wrinkly and still smiles fondly with her smile made out of pink thread. While collecting stuffed animals can be seen as strange or even childish, sleeping with and collecting these stuffed animals should be normalized. In this awful world of student debt and climate change and a million other terrible things, stuffed animals are a source of healing.
Being a college student juggling both work and school, I find it hard to find any rest or reprieve. However, no matter what happens, these stuffed animals are my friends. One year ago on a cold January night, I faced countless assignments and never-ending tasks and responsibilities that I needed to take care of. However, when I got home from work, my mom left me a present on the living room table. I got home and immediately ran towards this weird pink thing. I had no idea what this pink something was. He looked up at me with his asymmetrical black tapioca-ball eyes and giant pink nose and I fell in love. “OUGH,” I shouted. “What is this?” Instantly, all of my troubles went away when I looked at this weird creature. Instead of thinking of past assignments and grades or worrying about future schoolwork or career paths, I focused on the present moment. “What is this creature?” This was when I named and met the love of my life and reinvigorated my love for stuffed animals. I loved stuffed animals as a kid but I never thought that I could still love my old interests. Stuffed animals are reassuring for someone who is often stressed out; it’s like having a fidget toy in the form of a soft friend.
These seemingly innocent childhood toys are not as innocent as you might think; there are big companies behind all of these toys. There are also large groups of people who buy stuffed animals and other goods to resell or make a profit out of them. To avoid getting overpriced goods, you need to ask yourself if this item is a want or a need. While I do not need a new stuffed animal to survive, I need my reliable childhood stuffed animal to sleep with. I do not need new stuffed animals to live. Instead, I make sure the ones that I already have are taken care of. I know that our generation thinks it’s cool to not care but caring is everything. You should take care of the things around you kindly and treat them nicely, including stuffed animals and other mementos. Everyone needs a soft friend and living through various life-changing events is hard. No matter what happens, my soft friend will be there.
Fidgeting with fidget toys is enjoyable and people should be allowed to have silly and goofy interests. This online concept of cringe culture is when people make fun of people with “cringe” interests that are often childish, juvenile, or otherwise out-of-the-norm concepts. When I was growing up, I had early access to the internet from a young age. I grew up watching adults and content creators insult and make fun of people with “cringe” interests — often younger kids who are having fun with art and watching children’s shows. Kids should have the outlet to enjoy things and have fun with art while they can and not focus on what other people think of them. While what I am saying applies to kids, everyone was a kid once. Now that we are older, we are all too focused on how we are presenting to the world. However, I’ve brought this pink stuffed animal named Ough to class and no one bats an eye. Most people ignore him because people are too busy focusing on themselves and what they do so I have learned that it is okay to be a little cringe. Life is too short to be worrying about what other people are doing. Who cares if people think you’re weird? Bring your stuffed animals to class. As long as it is not distracting your learning or anyone else around you, bringing a soft friend to class can be comforting. I like my college-educated stuffed animal. I brought my stuffed animal to class and my professor said that she found Ough adorable and did not admonish or think less of me. I will admit that I thought it was childish to have stuffed animals when I was in high school, but now, as a college student, I embrace my weirdness and my love for stuffed animals.
Stuffed animals are transitional items that make people feel better and aid in self-soothing. A stuffed animal’s purpose is to make people feel better and aid in self-soothing. The New York Times published an article titled “The Case for Sleeping With Stuffed Animals as an Adult” that featured all the psychology behind these rituals to sleep like having these stuffed animals or blankets. In a 2017 survey by Build-A-Bear, 40% of respondents who owned or once owned a stuffed animal said they still slept with one. Time also published a piece titled “Adults Are Spending Big on Toys and Stuffed Animals—for Themselves” reiterating that adults just want to spend money and play. There is plenty of science to back these claims but essentially it all boils down to one thing. Stuffed animals are soft and cuddly and friendly.
Sleeping with stuffed animals is not a crime. Owning stuffed animals and toys and games and other childish things is not wrong. As a member of society, I can buy things with money. What I buy with my own money should not bother other people. There may come a night when I no longer need to hold on to my stuffed animals to sleep. But for now, it is nice to have a friend by my side to doze off with.