As we approach the end of the academic year, it’s time to look back on what we have achieved and how we’ve made it so far in the first place. From stalking Penn Badgley on campus, to temporarily moving into the library, we can safely say that this last term has been an emotional rollercoaster for the majority of us. It is in these trying times that we rely on our connections the most. Whether it is a study buddy, a parent or even your houseplant, I find that everyone has something they turn to.
Today, I’d like to discuss your connections to all things cute.
That’s right. From your dog, turtle, guinea pig, or that cat meme your friend sent you earlier, we are constantly exposed to adorable animals, and I’m not alone in saying that seeing a puppy at the library can make any day brighter. That release of dopamine is vital during exam season. I’m also not alone in being part of the half of the population that suffers from cute aggression, and if you’ve never heard of this popular emotional phenomenon, you’re in for a treat.
Dimorphous expressions of emotion are nothing new; some of us are so happy we start crying, or stressed to the point where we have giggle fits, and that’s normal. Dimorphous expressions occur when we feel overwhelmed with emotion, and our brain believes that we have become unmanageable, to the point where it fears we could harm our own body. In other words, we think the expression of one emotion can regulate the other. Now when we come into contact with something particularly cute, some of us react with both care and another extreme: aggression. Have you ever wanted to squish a puppy’s face? Or hug your little cousin until they can’t breathe? You’re not alone. Your brain is so excited about the cute reward it’s received that it fears for your sanity should you be exposed to the source for too long, and hence decides the only solution is to eliminate the perpetrator. Cuteness also evokes social behaviours such as caretaking (touching, holding, etc.), which could distract you from your original goal: surviving. In any case, cute aggression takes place on a daily basis, and is one of the easiest ways to balance your emotions in trying times. When faced with cute aggression, your brain prioritises combatting the cuteness overload over stressing about exams, to the point where your worries are momentarily forgotten.
So what’s my point? Next time you struggle with balancing life, connect with a cute animal. Have a folder on your laptop with cat memes. Or get a pet frog. Your brain will have so much to worry about, that deadline won’t seem nearly as bad in comparison.