Nobody ever fully grows up — in the sense that we all have kid-like desires no matter how old we are. In our youthful years of discovering our interests and desires, we are often drawn towards activities that help shape our identity. Novelty items like stuffed animals and Legos with which we grow up playing have become trendy and collectible nowadays, making them desirable for all ages.
Retailers appeal to us in this way. Brands feature our favorite characters from movies or make clever and eye-catching products that are simply irresistible. Everyone has something that draws their attention. For me, a toy that I was particularly crazy about growing up were Ugly Dolls. I’ve taken the ones I collected in my youth and clip them onto my backpack and have them displayed around my room.
I saw something in the tiny rugged plush dolls ever since I was little that I’m still able to appreciate, as I continue to surround myself with them. When I see them they make me happy and that goes for many other items I’ve collected — I always had an eye for eccentric knick knacks and art growing up. The purchases I make now may not always be conventional at my age, but treating myself to fun decor and accessories has become a hobby I find joy in.
To me, it doesn’t matter if something doesn’t have an inherent purpose. Stuffed animals are made to sit, look cute and be loved. Decorating for the different seasons, putting up fall colors around my house or setting up a Christmas tree with an assortment of ornaments is a tradition in my household, like many other Americans. It’s become embedded in our culture to adorn our living spaces and make them a special place that captures a person’s interests and personality — as I discussed in my recent column on what defines home.
I feel that my experience living in Japan for three years enhanced my appreciation for little things I surround myself with and the way I now choose to live. Unlike in the U.S. these days, malls are popular destinations in Asia and normally very extravagant. The Aeon mall I went to in Okinawa had a huge fish tank upon entering and shops that featured items that were the epitome of innovation in my eyes. The stationery, toys and accessories displayed in each glass window pane were things I had never seen before, invigorating my passion for collecting. Every time I went to the mall I would pick out something new for my collection of things that some people would deem pointless, but that I hold very dear to my heart.
I have been influenced by the scene of maximalism presented in Japanese fashion and design. Shops like Don Quixote, Village Vanguard and Daiso in Japan are all examples of shops in which trinkets, fun candy and novelty household items are the focal point. Even the many functional items they sold like dishes or school supplies were extremely cute and ornate. Cartoon characters would be drawn onto plates while notebooks and pencil pouches lined the walls, with more designs available than even imaginable.
With the broad array of products existing, I don’t collect any one thing, but an assortment of stuff that satisfies my youthful desires. From Japan in particular, I have my prized Line Friend and Sumikko Gurashi plushies as well as Totoro merchandise. Recently, I have been collecting ceramic cats, adding onto my cat themed kitchen and crystals to put around my room. What I collect is ever evolving with my interests and what I find beautiful at any given moment.
Another way I’ve found to indulge my interests is through thrift shopping, which allows me to collect small ornamental items without spending too much, as well as making my own jewelry. I’ve taken to making the “kitchen sink” style necklace which includes a mix of randomized beads that work together in one fine creation that is fun and unique! I’m able to express myself through this form of art which requires me to piece together beads of different colors and shapes which add meaning to each piece.
Creative expression is one way in which everyone is brought back to their child inside, and doing so takes many different forms. For my brother, he really enjoys drawing and building Legos. My sister loves music and building new structures on Minecraft. My dad is happy when he plays video games from his youth like Galaga, at which he is professed to be the best. My uncles often rejoice in music that brings them back to fond memories of their past.
My point is, we all have certain agents or mechanisms that spark our interests from our formative years which elicit happiness in revisiting them now. Items and activities from our past often carry nostalgic feelings into our present state.
With all of the responsibility that comes along with life, it’s important to remember our desires that stem from youth and innocence. Fun rewards become necessary to stimulate and motivate ourselves to work hard. It’s okay to revert back to the things that made us happy in our youth — in fact, we should more often, to renew the way we live at present.
Ella Powell is a Life Columnist for The Cavalier Daily. She can be reached at email@example.com.