How Stuffed Animals Can Still Benefit You Today

Autumn Eversman, Staff Writer

When people think about their childhoods, they often think about the toys that were a part of it. One of the most common types of toys people talk about being their favorite are stuffed animals. Stuffed animals have a long history of comforting children. The first stuffed animals were seen in 300 BCE, in the form of rag dolls in the Roman era. Stuffed animals and toys in general have always been treasured, connecting children throughout the years. 

“[Stuffed animals] were a security blanket for me,” said Sofia Hilgenberg, ‘23. “When you’re little, they’re your source of comfort.” 

Stuffed animals bring back memories of a better, simpler time, when everything around was fresh and exciting. They bring back happy childhood memories of when children’s main goal in life was to explore and learn before life got busy with school, extracurricular activities and social calendars. Stuffed animals were many people’s first friends from the beginning of people’s lives. 

“Nostalgia makes us a bit more human,” said Dr. Constantine Sedikides, a professor of Social and Personality Psychology within the Psychology Department at University of Southampton. “Nostalgia made me feel that my life had roots and continuity. It made me feel good about myself and my relationships. It provided a texture to my life and gave me strength to move forward.”

Sometimes nostalgia is just the thing needed to help guide a person when making difficult life decisions. For high school students especially, there is always a big, looming decision, whether it be about future classes, relationships, careers, activities or colleges. All these decisions affect the person and who they want to be, who they are and who they eventually become. 

There are also many people who have a lot of different opinions about what a person should or should not do and are not afraid to express it. Having a stuffed animal from a simpler time nearby helps serve as a reminder of who they used to be and what used to matter to them. Stuffed animals provide comfort, just like putting on a favorite sweater or snuggling in a comfy blanket. Sometimes it is necessary to reflect on the past to be able to move forward in life with purpose. Going backwards for a little bit is not always bad. 

My stuffed animals are just kind of sitting on my bookshelf at home, and I do get nostalgic sometimes when I think of all the good times,” said Hilgenberg. “I think about the experiences because I did take that stuffed animal everywhere with me at one time. So it’s just nice to reminisce sometimes. It’s fun to look back and think of a simpler time. It’s just nice to be sentimental.”

Any big decision someone faces could be solved by thinking about the past. 

As the great DC superhero, The Green Arrow, once said, “an arrow can only be shot by pulling it backwards, so when life is dragging you down and backward, it means that it’s going to launch you into something great, so just stay focused and keep aiming.” 

Take a moment to be sentimental, and look to a stuffed animal for help once more. Think about whether that inner child from the past would be proud of the present. Reflect on future goals, and if they are still as meaningful as they used to be. That may lead to the answer everyone is looking for.