Finding your Build-A-Bear heart

In my second year here at Xavier, I have found a wonderful group of friends. Each of these friends has many admirable and endearing traits. Some of them are a bit more sentimental, and some are a bit rough around the edges. However, there is one similarity that shows itself in flashes every so often. To best describe this similarity, I’ll need to tell a story.

While at lunch one day with several of my friends, we were discussing something very nice that my friend’s boyfriend did for us on Valentine’s Day. He had gotten all of the girls in our friend group a singular rose. Although this friend and her boyfriend have been together for many months, there was little that I knew about him at this point. He always seemed fairly tough. Being in ROTC, he spent a lot of his time with us talking about training drills and similar topics. Given the little that I knew about him, receiving a rose from him for Valentine’s Day was something that I did not expect. This unexpectedness was the chosen topic at lunch that day.

 While we were all talking, my friend Olivia, who is often fairly quiet and only makes exclamations when entirely certain of their effects, quickly cheered, “He’s like a Build-A-Bear!” Needless to say we were a bit startled and quite amused. She got the hint and added, “He has a heart and you know it’s in there, it’s just small and hard to find!” It suddenly all made sense. Among the laughter and jokes, a new understanding about human relations emerged.

This was not only the start of a good friendship with my friend’s boyfriend but also the start of an idea in the back of my mind. This idea runs a similar course as the idea of “don’t judge a book by its cover.” However, I prefer the imagery of a small, silky heart like the ones you kiss, whisper a message to and tuck into a freshly stuffed Build-A-Bear.

Neither Olivia nor I knew what this would turn into (I didn’t even know until I started to write this piece). It was such a simple statement, merely an observation, but it made so much sense.

All Build-A-Bears have a heart. The outside of the stuffed animal can be anything you want. It might have brown, blonde, blue or purple fur. You can dress it as a ballerina or as a fire fighter. It can even take the form of other kinds of animals like a unicorn or a popular character from a children’s television show.

The one thing all the bears have in common is the heart. Each child, after their bear is stuffed to their satisfaction, is told to make a wish for their bear, kiss their bear’s soon-to-be heart and slip it under their bear’s fur. Although all bears have this similar heart, differences emerge in what wish is made, what kind of kiss is given and where the heart is placed.

I find this imagery particularly compelling for understanding people. Every person has a heart. However, all individuals’ hearts were given a different purpose (the kind of wish made), a different kind of support (the kiss) and made to come out at certain times or to certain people (the location).

For example, I know that my purpose is different from  that of my father’s purpose, and I know that my heart comes out at romantic comedies while Olivia’s heart comes out more at classic television shows and movies like M*A*S*H or It’s A Wonderful Life.

We don’t necessarily handle situations the same way and often don’t feel deeply about the same things, but everyone has some semblance of a heart inside them. So, as the classic lesson goes, do not judge someone before you take the time to get to know them. Do not judge someone before you have found the thing, person or place that brings out their Build-A-Bear heart.

Emily Price is a sophomore psychology major. She is a staff writer for the Newswire from Miamisburg, Ohio.