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My new obsession with cute food related plushies, duckies, and kitties.
My new obsession with cute food related plushies, duckies, and kitties.
Original photo by Chloe Duncan

Why It’s Okay to be Childish

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at USFSP chapter.

I think get too distracted on my grocery run at some point. I have my list and try so hard to stay on task, but then I see that cute little trinket in the corner of my eye.  

Come on. We all do it. Who doesn’t love roaming the aisles of Target? 

Even just window shopping, the bright colors and calming lights are so enticing. I indulge in a little retail therapy. A giddy feeling rising inside like a hot air balloon. However, the family budget probably should not be spent on something unnecessary. Sometimes, I just want to buy that one thing I never have the courage to buy.  

Why are we like this? And isn’t all of this a little childish? 

I mean I really need this plushie. I promise he has a purpose. 

My Flip-a-Mellow that I promise does add more value into my life.
Original photo by Chloe Duncan
My Flip-a-Mellow that I promise does add more value into my life.
Original photo by Chloe Duncan

Some people consider Gen Z “sensitive” and “unable to grow up”  according to Stanford News. They believe these misconceptions even as Gen Z grows to prove their strengths to them in their statistics. “Zoomers” are considered childish in a world where self-care is becoming more prominent. Silly face masks, Squishmallows, and rom-com books all help destress a little. But why do we buy these simply childish things and refuse to “grow-up”? 

Gen Z’s childish nature stems from many factors, but they are not all bad. 

In my opinion, this child-like desire can actually be healthy. According to Psychology Today, psychologist Dr. Stephen Diamond states that people “truly” do not mature as they age. In his book, Psychotherapy for the Soul: Thirty-Three Essential Secrets for Emotional and Spiritual Self-Healing, Dr. Diamond details that within an adult there is the adult self and the inner child. “Authentic” adulthood is different from what is considered to be “growing up”. This gross simplification of “growing up” is forcing others to ignore or improperly handle people’s needs and desires. Adults truly “grow up” when they begin to act as apparent to themselves. This can relate to the normal progression of adulthood; however, some adults refuse to recognize their emotional needs. This leads to them being impulsive, ambivalent, and closed-minded. They must recognize their needs and wants for themselves, whether fulfilled or not in childhood. Only once a person recognizes their faults and needs can they truly “grow to an adult.” 

For Gen Z, specifically, a part of that self-maturation stems from their awareness in mental health. Gen Z is the most likely to report out of all generations that they have low mental health from daily life stressors, economic struggles, generational issues, etc. There are more suicidal rates than before. In my opinion, people recognizing that they are stressed out and it encourages them to find a little dopamine. They become adults to their inner selves and realize they need to find a way to help their inner souls from hurt. So, people go to the closest store and look for something that may brighten their day.  

“Retail therapy” has been proven to create dopamine in people when shopping. For shoppers in Los Angeles, it is becoming increasingly halftime. According to the Los Angeles Times, more people are now finding themselves with Starbucks in hand strolling through the gleaming red aisles of stores for the experience. It is also great for the stores. Target builds long spacious isles and weaving departments to get lost in. They get more money; we get more bath bombs. It’s a win-win. Online shopping is therapy too. According to the Journal of Global Scholars of Marketing Science, online shopping has also skyrocketed as a way to relieve stress by putting things into a cart without checking out. It gives a sense of accomplishment and relaxation without denting the wallet. Sorry, Target. 

I also believe the relationship between hobbies and play is another way of relieving stress and building character. In a study by the Luleå University of Technology, the type of play that people are exposed to as children shapes their creativity, individuality, leadership skills, and empathy. When people play sports, it teaches them how to fight adversity. That video game death is merely a stepping stone to MVP. Role play allows others to be creative and become empathetic to those in other people’s shoes. Going to fantastic worlds through video games and table-top games allows a sense of escape and further taps into the inner child. 

Shopping and play, in my opinion, are great ways to boost mental health even if it seems a little nonsensical. 

So, if I want to make my dorm look like a 50’s pop with cute things, I can do the whatever the heck I want. I want to play video games with my friends till midnight. Valid.  

Now, excuse me, I am going to make jewelry in peace with my funky food-themed cat and ducks sitting in a row next to me. 

Chloe Duncan is a writer and undergraduate at University of South Florida at St. Petersburg. She is passionate about service work and artistic media. She is an artistic dork who probably should go outside more in sunny Florida. In the meantime, she will continue to write about non-profits and some unique artistic experiences.