A Companion Everyone Needed

When I was a little kid, my sister and I would watch the mystery thriller anime Detective Conan together. The murder scenes and the killer attempting a sneak attack would often scare me. I could recall myself being stiffed and almost trembling from all the suspense, especially during the nighttime. Paranoia grew within me as I would imagine the fictional antagonists existing in the real world, hiding somewhere. These fears wandering around my mind, however, would soon begin to disappear. I felt safer as I hugged my stuffed animals tightly. My favorite ones, as far as I could remember, were the bear and dog. 

Stuffed animals played a huge role throughout my childhood. As every child would have a cherished toy to serve as a companion, the soft, cottoned creatures were mine. I had viewed them as the most kind-hearted superheroes that, existing with pure bravery, would secretly protect children from evils of the world. Just as a non-living object, I believe that they could impact the life of a person. Even up-to-date, they still laid beside me in my bedroom — not as an important memory, but as a source of love, reassurance, and comfort. 

As a part of human nature, people tend to seek for love and care, and that was what stuffed animals could provide. The soft eyes embedded on the round face, it would be impossible for someone to not be fond of such a gentle, harmless thing. When my parents had gotten me a dog plush toy, I felt joy rushing through my body. I remembered how its ears would flop like a bunny every time it moved. Its coffee-brown cotton fur, covered in a dark blue jacket, was so fuzzy — it was as if I were touching the great white clouds in the sky. 

Reflecting back to my old self, I was able to see the high spirits in my childhood, and wondered if these kinds of little details had brought youth to so many children. I noticed that the most important thing to them was “finding what makes [them] happy,” as mentioned by Blair Somerville, a figure who had devoted himself to what made him most happy. Life is not just about competition and focusing on the future; it is rather about finding fun and joy, and the reasons for living. In relation, I knew for a fact that with my stuffed animals, I felt much less lonely — only instead, I received warmth. 

Not only did stuffed animals give a sense of companionship, they also helped reduce my anxiety and fears. It is natural for a high school student to receive a great amount of assignments, and thinking about how much there would be for the week (including tests) would build up my anxiety. At bedtime, I would overthink of what would happen the next day. 

What if I did not study enough? 

What if I get a question wrong and my grades go down? 

I felt like Spirited Away’s Chihiro being stuck in the Spirit Realm, not knowing what to do. With all the thoughts clouding my mind, it became harder for me to fall asleep and actually get enough sleep. But when I hugged my soft plush, finally drifting off to dreamland, it was as Haku had reassured Chihiro, “I promise I’ll get you out of here!” While a plush toy could not talk and interact, I still felt better from the reassurance, even if it was just a little. 

(Spirited Away)

The first stuffed animal I got was a pig when I was one year old. From that very day up to now, I would consider stuffed animals as one of my greatest comforts, which I also hold many memories with. Sometimes, blankets are just not warm enough during the freezing winter. Like many others, when I was cold during the night, the atmosphere tended to go along with the temperature, and I could feel the dullness walking through my skin. During these conditions, people would often think of their home that they longed to return to. As a child, the home I would think of is sleeping in my cozy bed with my stuffed toys beside me. It was something so simple; yet, so perfect. 

People may say that as they grow up, their toys would become too childish. However, I found the importance of the simplicity of children’s mindset after reading the essay Children in the Woods, where Barry Lopez had emphasized, “Whenever I walk with a child, I think [of] how much I have seen disappear in my own life.” Every tiny speck of detail in life could be greatly impactful and significant; and so, it was important to form and keep “myriad relationships” — either with others or even the toys and stuffed animals that made one’s childhood so fulfilled. 

Life could be so simple if people made it simple. For me, growing up never meant that I would have to leave behind every moment the past and only focus on the present. I could always have stuffed animals even as an adult — it would feel exactly like eating a favorite childhood snack. I would imagine to not ever have a sense of nostalgia, and that would be a good thing. It meant that stuffed animals have always been there with me, accompanying me with every moment and second of life and providing me the love, reassurance, and comfort I need.

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