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From The Editor: Stuffed With Imagination

My sister Margot (right) and I with Mr. Buffles and Mr. Bear, our respective stuffed animals.

My sister Margot (right) and I with Mr. Buffles and Mr. Bear, our respective stuffed animals.

My sister Margot (right) and I with Mr. Buffles and Mr. Bear, our respective stuffed animals.

My sister Margot (right) and I with Mr. Buffles and Mr. Bear, our respective stuffed animals.

From The Editor: Stuffed With Imagination

In her final quarter as a high school senior, Editor-in-Chief Katie Pierce talks about stories and other events that have taught her valuable lessons for life.

In old pictures, I’m seen almost every time with my stuffed teddy bear, looking fresh with a neatly tied bow and big brown eyes.  He’s always there, until I turn about seven or eight, and he disappears. I got too old, I suppose, to carry him around anymore. I became independent enough.  He’s still in my life, helping me sleep at night at his ripe old age of 18, but he’s happy at home.

I guess it took me a few years to really learn what it means to be independent, because 18 years later, I find myself with a new stuffed friend–Elephant.

I carry Elephant (yep, that’s her name!) around every day, five days a week, to every class at Lake Forest High School.  Those who know me may or may not know of her existence–she lives in my backpack. She makes the journey from bed to backpack to bed again every day–much like my monotonous journey from school to home on a daily basis.

I struggle with generalized anxiety, just like many other students at our school who have either kept it to themselves, like me, or been vocal about the disease.  I’ve also been dealing with a bit of depression, which casts a heavy cloud on all the other feelings that I’m dealing with.

I’m on my fourth therapist, with the first three either plateauing my progress or making my situation worse.  I’ve become frustrated with the process of finding care for my mental health, and I’ve been through a lot just attempting to find someone who can give me the help I need.

Throughout this year, I’ve had Elephant as company, solace, and a sense of the present during parts of that painful process, and many other confusing and troubling times that I’ve dealt with with my anxiety.  I can definitely tell that having her during tough times makes everything a little easier.

I wrote about Elephant in my college essay–she was the first present I received for my 18th birthday, much like my teddy bear, who was one of my first presents I received when I was born.  I wouldn’t call it crazy to say that my imagination and love for stuffed animals was born again through her entrance into my life.

Yes, it’s funny to think that an 18 year old can still find comfort and company in a stuffed animal.  I’m not ashamed of it.

Loneliness is something I’ve dealt with in both large and small bouts, and it’s not fun.  I’ve found that even just reaching into my bag for a computer or a pencil and seeing Elephant changes the way I feel, and her presence is a comfort.  

Again, I feel no shame in carrying a stuffed animal, and neither should anyone else.  I’m not afraid to call her my friend, and I’m not ashamed of the imagination that I use on a daily basis to make her come alive.

Some people think it’s crazy, but I feel zero shame.

I’ve gained positive aspects of my personality back through Elephant.  I have imagination and kindness, a sense of self worth, and a confidence that may not be external, but is most definitely present internally.  I’m not reliant on her, but she’s there. There’s a reminder of the fact that I’m always there for myself.

If there’s anything I want to pass on to others from this, it’s that sometimes the smallest and least expected things that help calm the largest problems.  Our society is so concerned about self image and social norms, and they forget about seemingly childlike experiences, like imagination, that make children themselves so blissfully happy and carefree.  

With all the stress to be perfect and act “adult” in this world, we lose what organizations like colleges and workplaces look for–something that makes you stand out from the crowd.  What if imagination is that piece of our personality that we’ve lose over time? It’s hard to believe that there’s something else we may be searching for in life–something that we already have had.

Just because we know what the world really looks like now as adults doesn’t mean we lose what we had as kids.  Perhaps that’s the fatal flaw in adults today–they forget what it’s like to be happy because they “grow out” of what they knew as kids.

So I urge you to remember.  Feel silly. Feel magical. And go hug a stuffed animal.

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