Anyone who knows me knows I love my stuffed animals. I name them, they sleep on my bed in rotation (hey now, everyone deserves love and attention), I take them with me on trips and back to school, and occasionally out and about in my car when I’ve got errands to run. And I’m not ashamed. I value my stuffed animals, and here’s why; every single one has a meaning to me. You can point to a stuffed animal of mine, and I can tell you when and where I got it, who I was with and its name. My oldest stuffed animals even have personalities, because they were with me when I was a toddler.
A lot of people attach stuffed animals to childhood and see them as something you should grow out of by adulthood, or sometimes even your teenage years. I view my stuffed animals as a collection of memories - tangible, fluffy snapshots that hug me back. Sometimes a stuffed animal is all you have left of a person or place. When a picture isn’t enough, I have this object that was there with me, with my lost loved ones or places. My stuffed animals are therapeutic for me - above conversation but below my cat.
I have the lamb (aptly named Lamby) my mom got me in 3rd grade when I was in the children’s hospital for appendix issues. I have the Gizmo (from the movie Gremlins) that I shared custody of with my best friend in middle school. I have Commander, the seal I got when I visited my brother in Boston in 2015. I have Billy the Bat, Barry the Bison, Wally the Warthog, and Goodall the Gorilla from trips to the Columbus Zoo with my dad. I have King Louie the albino alligator and Zoboomafoo the lemur from the Louisville Zoo with my sister and cousin after a concert in 2015. There are countless others. I have stuffed animals I’ve been given as gifts, I’ve bought on my own, and I’ve made. My two most recent I got last week at Disney World to commemorate the trip with my family.
I’m not ashamed to love something seen as "childish" because it makes me happy. It doesn’t hurt anyone and it doesn’t hurt me, so why shouldn’t I be able to enjoy something I love? People are multi-faceted and capable of existing outwardly and fully. Enjoying collecting stuffed animals doesn’t make me any less of an adult, any less capable of working hard and doing good and right things. Hobbies should be taken for what they are, namely, activities that we take part in or do in our down-time to make us happy. Art, music, sports, knitting, hiking. Hobbies shouldn’t be strictly for certain types of people. When we try to police, in a manner of speaking, to gate-keep certain activities, we miss out on the opportunity for beautiful cultural exchange. I’m not ashamed of my hobbies, because it’s not that serious, and if someone is that bent up over something I do for fun, then the problem lies clearly with them and not me. I’d choose hanging with Barry the Bat over them any day.
Plus stuffed animals are soft and fluffy. Who doesn’t love soft and fluffy?