Nice to see you again.
I was introduced to “warm fuzzies” in high school.
Chosen for some sort of leadership overnight event, I thought, “Sure, why not?” That was pretty much as prestigious as it got at my educational institution, and, since I ducked out of a spelling bee in elementary school – my one shot of prestige thus far – I had to redeem myself with a relative act of bravery.
When it came to putting myself out there, I didn't have a great track record. I lasted a total of one afternoon at Brownies, begging my mom to never send me back. For some reason, going to country home, baking biscuits, and sitting in a circle singing and "connecting" with committed Brownies put me over the edge. I also missed out on the whole camp experience, which was never really on the table to begin with, because my mom knew I would never go for it.
So when I was chosen for this overnight (note: two nights at most) leadership camp, I thought, “This is my chance to have a life-changing camp experience!”
I don’t remember what it was called or much of anything about what we did. All I vaguely remember is:
Being in a room of fellow high schoolers at some kind of campground in rural upstate New York and listening to a surprisingly crowd-pleasing guy play guitar and sing “American Pie” for us
Wearing a long-sleeved tie-dyed shirt, which was one of my hipper go-tos for casual social events
Obviously this leadership camp was life-changing.
Warm fuzzies were small “gifts”, aka homemade pieces of construction paper – or, if you really felt fancy, folded construction paper in the form of a card – decorated with glitter, feathers, and other accoutrement, along with messages like “You’re awesome!” and “I love your smile!”
In other words, warm fuzzies were positive affirmations of your specialness. They were supposed to make you feel warm and fuzzy. (That’s pretty self-explanatory, but just in case you missed something there.)
Even my most hopelessly romantic teenage self had a mixed relationship with warm fuzzies. They definitely felt a little, well, infantile. I played along, dragging myself into the fuzzy warmth with the rest of them. Still, my exaggerated thrill at seeing warm fuzzies taped on my door paled in comparison to the unbridled joy they seemed to elicit in everyone around me.
Were they all just simpletons? I mean, I was easily entertained, but come on. Were we six? Upon reflection, this was probably one of the first signs that I needed to get out of dodge. Warm fuzzies did not a leadership camp make.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t seem to escape the warm fuzzies, which made another prominent appearance at Girls State the following summer. (Leadership camp, Girls State...Suffice it to say that, true to form, my high school superlative was the most boring one imaginable: Most Likely To Succeed. What I wouldn’t have given for Nicest Smile or Most Dramatic.)
There I was, in a dorm full of bright minds from all over the state, listening to a rousing welcome speech in a real college auditorium, when the speaker suddenly shifted her tone from Empowering Feminist Politician to Kindergarten Teacher. She paused for dramatic effect, smiled coyly, and introduced nothing other than...warm fuzzies. The presidential orchestral score playing in my head screeched to a grinding halt. The loudest record scratch in the history of record scratches.
What. Was. Happening?!
I wanted to run to the podium, grab the microphone, and shout, arms gesticulating with bravado, “We’re better than this! We don’t need warm fuzzies! We’re the best and the brightest and we’re going to take the world by storm! THAT’S WHY WE’RE HERE!” Then, one by one, my Girls State comrades would stand in solidarity, saluting our feisty, self-confident, sisterhood-of-citizens selves.
But I didn’t. I sat there, scratching my head and trying to pump myself up for the inevitable warm fuzzy hurricane that awaited me that week.
I thought I had gone through all of the warm fuzziness unscathed until this past week, when all of these memories came flooding back full force.
I was reading in bed, about to turn off the light and pass out after reading 2.5 sentences (as per usual), when D turned to me, propped up on his elbow, and said (as per usual), “What do you wanna talk about?!”
However, unlike most nights, I didn’t roll over the other way and mumble incoherently that I was too tired and just wanted to go to sleep. Because that night, D followed up his question with this:
“It’s too hot to snuggle...What about some brain snuggles instead?”
And then I felt them: the warm fuzzies.
They creeped right in, out of nowhere, filling my body and brain with love and affection and joy. I didn't have time to register the feelings! They were just there, because brain snuggles felt like the most wonderful snuggles imaginable on a night too hot for skin-to-skin connection.
So we had some brain snuggles. We talked about positive moments during our days, what we love about each other, and the hopeful future we're going to build. We shared our stresses and asked how we could support each other. We laughed at each other's absurdities, being perfectly okay with being mind-boggled by things we could never understand.
Granted, all of this lasted about three minutes, before I fell asleep, but still. It felt warm and fuzzy.
Only later did I make the connection. Maybe I did like warm fuzzies after all, at least in some form or fashion. It felt really strange to create warm fuzzies for people I didn’t know at all, but weaving warm fuzzy stories with someone I loved? That was pretty nice.
I suppose warm fuzzies come in many forms. The trick (as per usual) is to not force them. The trick is to find a form that works for you. Make them your own, imbue them with your favorite qualities, and maybe call them something else if the term “warm fuzzies” makes you want to vomit in your mouth a little. That’s what I did at least, and I can’t wait for my next warm and fuzzy brain snuggle session.
From brain snuggles to body snuggles to Post-It notes with reassuring words to a bag of a loved one’s favorite snacks purchased just because, I’m finally a believer in warm fuzzies. Turns out I'm actually all about the warm fuzzies! Mine just don't always have glitter on them, and they don't have to. Loving is an act of bravery in and of itself.
Anyway, thanks for stopping by. And keep sharing your stories, because someone wants to hear them.