Honestly, sometimes I connect better with animals than with people.
My brother lost his beloved dog, and I lost my beloved cat within two months of each other. Both losses were unexpected and extremely painful. However, neither of us felt shame in how much we grieved. They weren’t “just animals” to us, they were pieces of our souls.
I remember telling him how unfair I thought it was that our animals had significantly shorter lifespans than us. And that’s when he said he believed animals knew how to love unconditionally already — they didn’t need to live for 90 years to learn that life lesson. They came, they loved deeply, and they moved on.
As an introvert, I’ve always felt a deep connection with animals. Honestly, more than with most people. Where people drain my energy, animals replenish it. Where people expect constant conversation, animals express themselves eloquently in a language of silence. A language which offers ineffable comfort. Some of my best friends have never spoken a word to me.
Animals are mirrors into our souls. When they look at us, they see us. And I mean all the way to our marrow that, often for us introverts, screams, I’d rather be reading (with snacks).
All through childhood, I collected animals like stamps. I was lucky enough to have a virtual zoo of dogs, cats, horses, chickens, and rabbits in my life. For a time, I even bottle-raised a calf after his mother abandoned him. As a quiet, shy, anxious child, animals gave me a glimpse of a life I never knew existed. One without judgment, small talk, or any expectations other than love.
Animals still play a huge role in my life, so here are four ways they enrich my days as an introvert — and can for you too.
Why Animal Companions Are the Best
1. Animals help me be present.
Let’s be honest. We introverts are known for dreaming about the future or having an angsty snack-attack over the past. Rarely do we live in the present moment. But animals do. And they do fully, helping us to do the same. They’re our teachers in the art of just being. Being exactly who we are. Living to live. Breathing to breathe. Loving to love.
Existing in the present moment vastly mollifies my anxiety. When I’m focused on the here and now, I forget to worry about a troubled relationship or a scary life decision looming ahead (or that phone call I never returned, and probably never will). Instead, just for a spell, I’m focused on the sun warming my cat’s fur as I snuggle into her. On the sweetness of my horse’s nicker as he welcomes me to his stall. On the wiggly greetings of the dogs as they press against my leg, inviting pets and making me feel like the best pal in the world.
2. Animals remind me to find joy in the simple things.
It’s easy to get caught up in a whirlwind of goals and expectations. And while it’s good to have these things, I sometimes forget to find joy in the smallest and simplest delights. An extra-soft blanket to snuggle under, perhaps. Or a walk in the fresh air. A book I just started with 500 more pages still to enjoy. A dusty bottle of wine. A patch of sunlight on the bed. An unexpected night in.
Wait…no. I always find joy in that.
The way animals express their happiness over the simplest pleasures in life is contagious. I’m never more happy to go for a car ride than when a dog is sitting shotgun.
3. Animals provide a loving, uncomplicated presence.
As an introvert and a highly sensitive person (HSP), sometimes I need a shoulder to cry on without having to explain exactly why I’m crying. Sometimes there isn’t any one reason. Most likely it’s because I’ve soaked up the emotions of every person I’ve encountered that day, plus the emotions of the entire world by flipping on the news for ten minutes.
No biggie. I’m fine. I just need to decompress, and animals help by providing a loving, uncomplicated presence. I don’t have to explain or justify myself. Usually within minutes, I’m much, much happier just because of their company.
On the other side of things, when I’m happy and goofy and want to dance around the house making a complete idiot of myself, the animals join in. They don’t question that either. They provide this introvert with a pure connection to another soul, unburdened by the complexities of human interaction.
4. Animals allow me to be active and recharge at the same time.
While I love to curl up with Netflix as much as anyone else (more probably), I also love being active. Honestly, I need to be active. If I go days without getting outside and exercising, I turn into the worst sort of curmudgeon. Just ask my husband, and he’ll corroborate.
But the last thing I want to do is join a fitness group or meet-up. That would entail actually talking to people and, gasp, taking on a continuous commitment. I know from years of experience, I’ll quit after the first week and never go again.
Animals are the perfect workout partners. With them, I can exercise in peace. Whether it’s going for a run with a dog, racing around the house with a cat, or riding a horse, I can both sweat and recharge. No boot camps watching a stranger’s neck veins pop out as they yell for one more rep, and no buddy squats with Karen from down the street, who’s lovely but says, “Enough about me, let’s talk about you.”
It seems a lot of introverts are die-hard animal lovers, and it’s not difficult to see why. They really are the perfect companions for us “quiet ones” who don’t do small talk but still need a pure and loving presence in our lives.
While I’m someone who loves to be alone, this doesn’t include my animals. Their expectations are delightfully reasonable, and they love nothing more than when I stay home in my pajamas, reading books, baking banana bread, and giving them love and snacks.