The last year has been objectively horrible. I know you don’t need me to tell you that, and I don’t need to remind myself either. We’ve all found our own ways to cope, and a few of these mechanisms have actually become really bright spots in an otherwise dark era. There was the beginning of quarantine where we made whipped coffee and dressed like Pogues, when we listened to not one but two new Taylor Swift albums, or when we did whatever YouTube workout was trending (even if we quit after a week).
The most recent source of quarantine-inspired joy that I’m obsessed with is Squishmallows. You’ve probably seen the adorable little stuffed animals on TikTok or on your friends’ stories, If you haven’t seen them yet – don’t look them up. Because if you look them up, you’re going to fall in love, and then there’s going to be one specific one you can’t get enough of, and then once you see that it’s sold out it’ll become a wild goose chase that will drive you mad. I mean, not like I’m speaking from experience or anything. I’ve been lovingly collecting Squishmallows for a few months now. as much as I’d love to use my article to gush about how cute they are and beg you to keep an eye out for the squid (please, I want her so badly), I realized Squishmallows are a small part of a much larger theme.
The other day my roommate and I sat in our living room, Squishmallows in our laps and iCarly playing on the TV. Looking at the situation from the outside, it was oddly juvenile for college roommates, but we were also having so much fun. Nostalgia can be a beautiful thing as long as you don’t get too caught up in it, and in a year like ours any healthy and wholesome coping mechanisms are a welcome sight.
I also think it’s important to recognize that childhood whimsies aren’t meant to be appreciated in the same way they were when we were kids. iCarly is still genuinely funny, but we notice a lot of the hidden “grown-up” jokes and find ourselves relating to the adult characters more than ever. Hunting for Squishmallows is just as fun as looking for Webkinz, but now instead of begging our parents to go to the store we can drive ourselves, coffee in hand and Harry Styles blasting on the radio.
I take TV classes for my film minor, and the shows we’re meant to watch are always dark and scary. The characters are always bad people, traumatic things are always happening, and happy endings don’t win you Emmy’s. Shows like iCarly and Victorious are stupid and silly, and sometimes after a long day of classes and our own personal problems we’d rather watch something like that than real life reflected back on screen. Especially now as shows include COVID storylines, I’ll stick with the fun stuff. I’m also brave enough to admit it’s not even just my childhood shows that I like. I have definitely enjoyed new “kids” shows like Julie and the Phantoms and High School Musical: The Musical The Series during quarantine as well.
These shows are peaceful and fun. Squishmallows are adorable and comforting. If these are the coping mechanisms you need during this time – use them. There are so many more dangerous and harmful choices you could be making, so do what you need to take care of yourself. It’s also been proven by many super smart scientists that play is essential for adults. “Play” has been shown to release endorphins, which improve your mood and boost creativity. Play can even help us to feel energetic, and strengthen memory and retention.
So play Poptropica in between Zoom lectures, use coloring books during wine night, or perform full karaoke renditions of DCOM bangers. There are so many places and times where we have to be mature, and have to be responsible. There is so much worry and struggle and anger in our lives. Embracing your inner kid will brighten your day, which will allow you to thrive in the more adult aspects of your life. Most importantly, these things make me happy, and if something makes you happy (in a healthy way) then you should definitely be doing more of it.