RE: Being Animal Hearted
This sounds a lot like me, renata! Though conversing with therians hasn't swayed me either way, I just like learning of the common ground and differences I share with them. And they have only strengened my convictions about my own self.
One thing I find, is that in all furry, other hearted and therian contexts I get called "bonobo" like it's the normal thing, have people chat to me using apey puns and have had ape therians call me an honorary ape/bonobo. I know a bonobo that told me on skype a few times, "yup, you're a bonobo!". And that feels so epically good, it really boosts my self esteem when people use those words on me, it's like they have acknowledged the little apes in my head as something a little more, idk, out of my head? It may be an alter ego, unlike with therians, but it's still a part of me in my own, weird little way.
I didn't choose the ape thing in a fully conscious way, however, it was kinda instant fireworks going off explosions fanfare thing when I'd first proper learned what a bonobo was. Of course, I develop other hobbies over the years, live life as usual, and even when I'm not researching the animal like an interest, they still take their place in pockets of my brain like little friends. But then, after doing other stuff, I get insanely bored and lost and the apes come back and I just snuggle down for some catch up time. And that I feel, for me, is the difference between other hearted and favourite animal/interests, hobbies come and go, my affinities never fully leave and are my special secret escape. I tend to get dreams a lot where I'm about to either hold an infant, or interact directly in some way with apes (usually orangs or bonobos) and be accepted by them in some cases, but then something gets in the way like glass suddenly appears, they turn into humans or dogs or they just don't notice me. And I wake up really frustrated!!!
And the mermaid thing is pretty much the same and has been since I was a toddler, but it is of similar strength to the ape thing despite being with me for longer. And I can genuinelly say that I do mermaid shift, mentally atleast. Whenever I swim or see images/films of coral reefs and other warm climate oceans (especially Pacific). Yet, I don't call myself mermaidkin because mermaids don't even exist, so it would seem silly to me (personally) to go all out otherkin when I'm know I can't be something that's not real. But I totally understand and respect those that do, though.
I'm not human I'm just overgroomed!