As a kid, many of us had a toy, stuffed animal, or blanket that meant the world to us—some kind of special object that acted as a sort of security blanket as we navigated the world.
As we grow older, most of us rely less and less on those personal items until we “outgrow” them, even though we may keep them around just in case or for sentimental value.
But as an adult who still relies on that companion object for one reason or another, is there a time and/or place where it should be left out of sight?
Redditor louist2187 recently found herself in this situation after bringing her teddy bear to a friend’s public presentation, so she turned to the subReddit “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) to see if she was in the wrong, asking:
“AITA for bringing my stuffed bear to my friend’s presentation?”
The original poster (OP) explained how her stuffed childhood friend recently started playing a role in her life again.
“I (20F[emale]) have had my teddy bear since I was one. His name is Elijah and I used to take him everywhere as a kid.”
“About three months ago, I decided I wanted to start bringing him places with me again.”
“I know it sounds dumb but I feel bad just leaving him home alone all the time, I know he isn’t a sentient being but it still makes me feel better when I feel like he’s getting to ‘see the world.'”
“He comes to picnics & hikes I go on with my friends, I take him to restaurants, other people’s houses, the mall, etc.”
“I usually just hold him in my lap or tuck him beside me on the seat, I don’t wave him around or make a huge deal out of it. I just enjoy having him with me.”
“I find having him with me has helped with my social anxiety and OCD, especially when I’m out in public.”
“None of the friends in my friend group mind at all. They’ll ask to have a turn holding Elijah or offer to carry him for a bit, so I know they don’t mind me bringing him on outings.”
When her friend had a presentation coming up, the OP decided to bring Elijah along.
“Anyway, one of our friends ‘Carly’ invited us to sit in on a presentation she was giving for a club at her college.”
“She didn’t say we had to dress up (she didn’t specify dress code at all, actually), but we all put on nice formal outfits so we wouldn’t show up looking like messes. I also brought a purse with me and tucked Elijah into it.”
“I didn’t plan on taking him out during her presentation because I pictured it being more formal than it was, but when we got there, we were all seriously overdressed, so I figured it would be okay for Elijah to just sit in my lap during the presentation.”
“When we got up to walk around, I put him back in my purse.”
This, however, didn’t go over well with Carly.
“After the presentation, Carly pulled me aside and asked if I thought she was ‘a fucking joke.’ I didn’t know why she was so angry so I complimented her presentation, but she told me to cut the crap and leave if I wanted to ‘turn her into the laughing stock of the school.'”
“She looked like she was about to start screaming so I told her I was going to use the bathroom and excused myself, then just waited for the rest of my friends to finish socializing and met them at the car.”
“We were all supposed to go out for dinner after but Carly said she didn’t feel like being around me or my ‘accessory,’ so a couple of us went to get snacks and the rest went to dinner with Carly.”
Now the OP is doubting whether she made the right call.
“I feel guilty for making her upset and embarrassed but at the same time, I doubt anyone noticed but her, and if they did I don’t think it matters because I wasn’t giving the presentation? But I would like an outside opinion.”
She later added some extra info about her reliance on Elijah.
“EDIT: I see a therapist. They don’t see any issues with Elijah going places with me.”
“I’m not dependent on him, nor do I need him to ‘fix’ my anxiety. I simply enjoy having him with me, and find that it makes me less worried about what other people are thinking.”
Redditors weighed in on the situation by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
Many weren’t too keen on either the OP or her friend’s actions.
“She was overreacting and was very rude. However, I will say I think that you bringing a teddy bear with you everywhere is performative and attention seeking.”—LadyCass79
“I have to agree. Performative and attention seeking. He didn’t need to come out for the presentation.”—HeyItsMeUrDad_
“ESH-Her reaction was over the top but it would have been more appropriate to leave Elijah in your purse given the nature of the event.”—GothPenguin
“I don’t think it’s performative, I think it just needs to be a habit that is done in appropriate settings. The great thing is Elijah is little and can pop into a purse.”
“That’s probably where he should stay at professional events or formal ones.”—damnedifyoudo_throw
But there were plenty of others who thought the OP was well within her right to do as she pleased, and chastised those commenters for being so quick to judge.
“Idk what your college experience was like but that really wouldn’t have been a big deal at mine? I went to a giant university in a big city.”
“Lots of prestigious research and whatnot, but also lots of just. College kids. Quirkiness is super normal among 18-25 year olds surrounded by other 18-25 year olds.”
“Sure, a teddy bear brings a little attention, but at any given time, in my experience, she’d have been competing with international students wearing bespoke designer brands to class, college athletes built like refrigerators, and at least one guy who’s tried adderall for the first time that day.”
“Like. I sincerely doubt that this was nearly as noticeable as the friend seems to think. And again, ‘laughing stock of the school’ sounds like friend is anxious and catastrophizing.”—Neurotic_Bakeder
“So getting an emotional support animal and taking it everywhere would be performative and attention seeking too? It’s the same d*mn thing, except teddy doesn’t need feeding, walking and playing with because he’s inanimate.”
“Jesus some people really hate people who have mental issues. Learn some empathy.”—YellowBinary
“This thread is absolutely crawling with judgmental ableists.”
After all, the OP’s teddy bear is pretty innocuous—except maybe to insecure college students who fear being judged.
“NTA. What people like your friend fail to realize is no one lives their life specifically to impact someone else.”
“Especially someone you might call a friend. This person has let their own insecurity about the speech and what it means for them bleed over into guessing your intentions.”
“In what rational world would you bringing the bear to the speech have anything to do with the person presenting?”
“Humans get very wrapped up in their own ego. Especially when they feel insecure.”
“Because your friend lacks the emotional intelligence to process their own anxiety and insecurity they have directed it at you.”
“You can see it clearly in the comments claiming you’re doing it specifically to be performative when you’ve stated you’re not.”
“Humans, whether they want to or not, always have to center their experience or perspective, even at a complete disregard for what someone is telling them.”
“Long story short, you are not the a**hole. Live your life.”
“Your teddy bear attachment may end up being too much if it really starts to disrupt your everyday life and the lives of others I.e. I couldn’t follow through on a previous arrangement because I couldn’t find Elijah. Or I’m neglecting my children because Elijah is feeling lonely. Etc.”—Thrill-Clinton
“Can I just say, in amongst a sea of negatively, giant NTA.”
“I think it’s really clear a lot of the people commenting don’t have an understanding of mental illness and you’re being pressured to conform to societal norms as something different makes them uncomfortable. People try to oppress what they don’t understand.”
“I have similar diagnoses to you and I have a therapy animal who makes it so much more helpful for me to navigate social situations and reduces panic responses that can be debilitating.”
“I imagine your bear fills a similar purpose. It doesn’t have to make sense to others. You don’t seem dependent on it or attention seeking.”
“It actually sounds like you have a really clear understanding of your self-care routines and good boundaries with others/not projecting your difficulties onto them or expecting them to accommodate you.”
“You also go to therapy and seem open to compromising and learning from others’ perspectives (seeking advice on reddit).”
“Good luck, continue to explain what these things do for you and if anyone has a problem, they can come to you ahead of time and you guys can work out a compromise that suits both parties in a respectable way.”
“Your friend would have done better to speak to you ahead of time and perhaps ask you keep the bear with you but in your bag. Her insecurity was her responsibility and the fact she shamed you because of how she was feeling was TA move.”
“It was her responsibility to work that out with you or at least speak to you about it in a fair manner following it so you both can work something out for future situations.”—OpenMindGrow
While Reddit may not agree about the OP’s behavior, hopefully the dialogue in the comments will open up everyone’s eyes and encourage them to approach mental illness with more empathy.
In a world that is so quick to judge, we could all stand a bit more of that.