Back in August, I began the annual preparation for school by throwing all my to-be-packed items into my room.
It was a wide variety of supplies, from surge protectors to Chanel perfume, all scattered across the floor in complete disarray. However, I ensured there was a distinct pile for important things I absolutely could not forget: my jewelry box, candles, fuzzy navy blue crocs (judge me), alarm clock and, coming in high on the priority list, Teddy.
Teddy, as you may have guessed, is a teddy bear (I wasn’t so creative with names as a child), and he has been with me through thick and thin. Every year when packing season came, I debated if I would go in solo without my companion. Yet every year when the time came to go off to school, I could never bring myself to leave him home.
It wasn’t until recently I began to doubt this decision. Room inspections were happening throughout my building, which sparked the monthly make-your-room-clean-for-when-the-RA-comes process. It was while I was in the midst of shoving my dirty clothes pile underneath my bed that I found myself, for the first time, feeling self-conscious about my little friend. Should I hide Teddy too? I was a senior in college now, wasn’t I supposed to no longer need the comfort and safety of a stuffed child’s toy? Shouldn’t I, at this point in my life, not need him at all?
I found myself agreeing with all these questions, but again, when the time for inspections arrived, I couldn’t bring myself to hide him. I simply didn’t want to, nor did I feel an overpowering need to. Sure, having a stuffed animal in college may seem a little unorthodox and embarrassing, but it’s really not. If anything, it’s an added comfort to have around in a very stressful period of life.
Apparently I’m not the only one who feels this way. According to a 2015 survey by the online bed retailer Time4Sleep, 51 percent of men and 39 percent of women still have their childhood stuffed animals, and 28 percent of men sleep with them every night. Even just the mere presence of a stuffed animal can affect someone’s behavior. According to a study by Harvard University researchers, Sreedhari Desai and Francesca Gino, adults were found to be less likely to cheat and more likely to engage in “pro-social” behaviors when childhood toys, like teddy bears or crayons, were present.
This itself raises a bit of a interesting question: Why does something as simple as a stuffed animal affect us so profoundly? Psychologist Corrine Sweet weighed in on the subject in a Huffington Post article, saying that a stuffed animal “evokes a sense of peace, security and comfort” and that it’s “human nature to crave these feelings from childhood to adult life.” The impact of a teddy bear makes sense, it reminds us of our childhood, or of the loved one that purchased the toy for us. It’s a item that makes us happy. Who wouldn’t want some way of invoking peace and comfort into their lives? Especially during the horrors of finals week.
But let’s take a step back here. Do I, on a daily basis, feel the need to be comforted and consoled by my ol’ pal Teddy? No. In fact, he spends most nights on the floor or lost somewhere in my bundle of sheets. I don’t need or want constant protection, but who said there was anything wrong with seeking it out once in awhile?
I will admit that it is a little embarrassing at times to be that college kid who has a teddy bear at school, especially with bringing new people back to my room. Yet surprisingly I have never had a negative experience with it. Most people think it’s cute. Others find it funny. And if a guy or friend ever thought anything weird of it, I made sure they didn’t stick around much longer anyways.
I implore you all, the student body of Stony Brook, to not forget about your own blanket, teddy bear or stuffed puppy. There is no shame in craving a form of security, and no one should feel embarrassed for doing so. So snuggle your teddy bears with pride. After all it’s only good for you.