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Embrace your childhood interests again

I’m 18 years old, and I still sleep with stuffed animals.

I’m not embarrassed. I’m not ashamed to say I drift off to sleep every night accompanied by Winnie the Pooh and a brown bear wearing a Miami University shirt. As a kid, I tucked my plush friends under the covers and hugged them before falling asleep.

Maybe “Toy Story” had a profound effect on me. Maybe I was such an extremely empathic kid that my love crossed the boundaries of fabric and plush.

But, I’m not alone. According to a 2017 survey from Build-A-Bear, 40% of adults sleep with a stuffed animal. More than 25% of shoppers at Build-A-Bear are at least 12 years old, according to the CEO. The company now has a section on its website for adults.

Even my friends enjoy buying stuffed animals and covering their beds with them. My roommate has hers all stacked in a corner, some aesthetically matching in color scheme.

Photo by Taylor Powers | The Miami Student

Often, stuffed animals are a great way to embrace your inner child.

Lots of us are finding ourselves drawn to our childhood interests again. Whether it’s nostalgic cartoons, video games, collectible items or anything else, things once labeled “childish” are now being loved again by adults.

Pokémon, for example, is currently a shared interest among my friends. Two of them say the recent game releases, Pokémon Scarlet and Pokémon Violet, sparked their interest again.

Even in adulthood, they continue expanding the card collections that started in their youth. They share photos of binders with pages of cards, each displayed in its own laminated slot. They geek out over the incredibly detailed card designs. They don’t care about the rarity or monetary value of the cards; they just enjoy collecting again.

I couldn’t tell you a single thing about Pokémon, but watching their faces light up while talking about it is enough to keep me interested.

It’s not just my friends indulging in childhood interests again, it's the general public as well. Look at the response to the “Barbie” movie. Not only was it successful at the box office, but people came to theaters with head-to-toe pink attire.

Barbie sales went up as adult women started buying Barbie dolls again to heal their inner child. The movie encouraged women to embrace girlhood again. So many people are coming back to the things they loved as kids.

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The best part? No one is hiding it. My friend loves wearing his Snorlax pajama pants. Another wears her Sonic the Hedgehog socks all the time. I walked behind someone with Minecraft and Five Nights at Freddy’s keychains on their backpack, and I rode the elevator with someone wearing a “Monster High” themed varsity jacket.

College can be the prime time for engaging with your former selves. When you begin to gain independence from your parents as a child, it can be a scary experience. So, children want something to cling to as a source of comfort. This is called a “transitional object,” and it helps children adapt to life’s changes.

It's no surprise that as we enter adulthood, leave home for the first time and take the steps to become fully independent, we may come back to these sources of comfort to help us work through feelings of uncertainty.

Whether it's nostalgia, an update to the original product or a need for comfort bringing us back, we’re finding a new love and appreciation for things that made up our childhood. We’re rejecting the expectation that we should be interested in more “mature” things.

We’re letting ourselves grow, but not out of our interests.

You’re never too old to buy that Pokémon pack. You’re never too old for that Lego set. You’re never too old to sleep with a stuffed animal.

You’re never too old to be a child again.

Taylor Powers is a first-year double majoring in journalism as well as media and communication from Trenton, Ohio. This is her first year with The Student, where she is a multi-section contributor.