I used to feel bad when I saw my friends on social media going out and having fun. There they were, looking gorgeous, having some drinks, enjoying dinner. Why did I feel bad? It wasn’t because I hadn’t received an invitation. But as the years went by, I found myself turning down more and more invitations to go out in the real world. You know, to restaurants, shopping malls or theme park days. I was feeling bad because of one thing. I felt guilty for enjoying my dogs’ company over people.
But was I telling my friends the real reasons behind my lack of socialization? No. I found myself making excuses like I was tired, I had to work, or I was sick. Because telling the truth that I wanted to stay home with my dogs because I loved them more than anything in the world sounded crazy.
I have always found it difficult to interact with people. I had a hard time in school, often sitting by myself at lunchtime. I read a lot of books instead of socializing. I was an introvert, I was a little different. But why, I wondered, was I criticizing my personality? Why had I always criticized my personality? This was just not working for me. And it wasn’t working for anyone else. What I did not realize was that by making excuses, I was in fact hurting others. And this just wasn’t very nice. It was not nice to those who wanted to be with me, and it wasn’t fair to…me. Don’t we all have a right to be happy in the way that we want to be happy? So if I wanted to stay home with my dogs on the weekend, make pizza and cuddle on the couch, how was that wrong? After years of trying to mold myself into what others wanted me to be, yet I wasn’t, I have given up. I have to be me.
If I truly value my dogs as individuals, why would I even use them as an excuse? They are not an excuse, they are my friends too. The plain truth of the matter is that most of the time, I do prefer their company over people. They don’t require a dress code to come to their pawty. They don’t want to know how my work is going, or how much I make. They only love me for me. Who else does that?
Lately, I have realized that being my true, authentic self is much easier than trying to please everyone, and that it is way easier than making excuses. I also feel that it is a more loving and considerate way of interacting with my friends and others around me. It is not that I never want to be with my friends, but my true friends will be there when I do. And more than likely, they will invite my dogs to come along.
I may not sound rational to those without pets. I may not sound rational to most with pets. But the beauty of getting just a little older is that you no longer care so much. The beauty is that you understand that if you are happy, others around you are happier too. It is up to each one of us to stop making excuses…and start living. And for my dogs who have a shorter time here than I do, my time will be spent with them. Because I want to.
-Rachael Johnson, Girl Person, 2 Traveling Dogs
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