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A Squishmallow is a round, adorable plush toy — typically an animal or a common character found in pop-culture that comes with its own name and personality written on a little tag. The phenomena of collecting them could be compared to Webkinz in the early 2010s, or beanie babies in the 90’s.

While these cute and adorable stuffed friends were intentionally made for children, their presence has drawn in a generation of young adults desperate to reconnect with their inner child.

It was a hobby I didn’t know I needed to indulge in. At my age, I shouldn’t be scouting and looking for children’s toys — let alone collecting them or cuddling up to them. I actually felt quite embarrassed to admit it to some of my friends when I started collecting. But, this was something I didn’t realize would soon heal the small voice inside me, screaming to be acknowledged.

In October of 2019, I was gifted my first Squishmallow. My father gave me a 24-inch Squishmallow named Frankie. (He resembles a kinder, softer looking Frankenstein). My dad’s intention was to make me smile and provide me with comfort while I was dealing with a pretty difficult and heart-wrenching breakup. Although not as plump as he once was, Frankie is still my go-to squishmallow for when I need an extra amount of love and comfort.

In August of 2020, I was gifted my second Squishmallow. This new addition to my soon growing collection was gifted to me by my partner. My association with this plush is one of me in a better, much happier place. I had just started a new career path, one that suited me better and had begun a new, healthier relationship with a partner that actually valued my skills and dreams as a creative. My boyfriend gifted me an 8 inch Squishmallow named Shellie. This one was particularly special because not only did this imaginary friend and I share the same name, but it was an act of love by a new-found love. This Squishmallow, I associate feelings of butterflies, and romance. This one is placed on the top shelf, to be admired, and cared for.

Today, I have accumulated about 15 or so Squishmallows; varying in size, shape and colours. Each one, I associate with feelings of joy, determination or something of a trophy for myself and some of my accomplishments.

But how does this all connect to my inner child?

Squishmallows allow me to escape from an ever changing world, an escape from myself as an ever changing person. They are a constant in my life that add a sense of stability and fun to a pursuit in my growing career — a chance to escape from adulthood.

As an adolescent, I put a lot of pressure on myself to succeed. Always racing against time, always wondering about the next chapter, as opposed to living in the moment. I raced to grow up. I was set on my dream college in elementary school, and set myself on a path to adulthood (that so far- hasn’t gone the way I once dreamt about). I always wanted to feel older than I was. So I spent all my time trying to mature, when I should have been focusing on just being a kid.

These feelings I felt while being a kid are filled with stress, confusion and haste. The stress I put on myself to “hurry up and grow up!”, my utter confusion- asking “How do I get there?” or “How long will it take?”. And begging for time to move faster so I could just be a grown-up already. Squishmallows replace all those dark and hurried feelings with positive affirmations of my successes and rewards for the hard work I’ve put in thus far.

Collecting Squishmallows is my way of reconnecting to my childhood, slowing down in life and enjoying the small things.

And by bridging my inner-child through this quirky hobby, I’ve given myself the slack I need for my own mental and emotional help.

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