Social Distancing

I’ve known for a long time that I’m a bit of a curious person. Back when I first started uni, I studied Psychology for a few years (never did finish, though—that’s still something of a regret). One of the things that we were required to do was to be test subjects for other students’ research project. It was a way to both familiarize students with psychological testing and its methods, to create understanding of test subjects, as well as to just create a standard population for the upper years’ to do their research projects (don’t get me started on the selection bias there and the influences on their conclusions). It also gave you a wealth of information about yourself, as you could usually request your own data.

I discovered that, quite often, I had some odd, extreme scores on qualities. Among these oddities, I usually scored extremely high on need for cognition, tending to max out the scale; the same thing applied to most scales of introversion, as far as OCEAN traits were concerned. Now, this mattered relatively little to me as an individual—it’s not as though having a label for some of your tendencies really affects your life and person—but it did help me bring some context. For example, those two scores (and in particular their combination) mean that I am the type of person who enjoys to think about abstract things, and I enjoy doing that by myself in a quiet place. Situations that many would associate with loneliness, I associate with solitude.

There are two Internet artists I’ve read that express this extremely well, in case you aren’t following me at all. They express my experience of introversion wonderfully. Have a look.

This comic reflects exactly how I tend to feel in these situations, and the consideration of the protagonist at the end is just beautiful to me.

The second one I don’t know how to embed, but it’s a humorous guide to interacting with introverts.

So, to me, the isolating measures and the principle of social distancing is, well, to be honest, a little freeing. When I’m outside to do my groceries, I notice so many fewer people out on the street, and it’s nice. I can listen to the sounds of nature around me, I can sit on a bus and not feel crowded, and I don’t have to chit-chat with my colleagues at the office. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not as though I hate people, but it can be quite tiring to have to be around people all day (cf. that comic above). Tracy and I have made it into a verb—sometimes we even tell each other: “I’ve had too much peopling today” or “I don’t feel up to peopling right now.”

So, to me, this isolating experience feels as though a weight has been lifted from me. It’s not a heavy weight, or an oppressive one, but just this small weight that’s almost always there that now is comfortably absent. It’s a good sign to me that I should consider moving to a place that can afford a little more distance to others. Equally, I understand that as comforting as this experience is to me, regular daily life is surely comfortable to others. After all, those test scores I spoke of at the start do show that these tendencies in me are a curiosity. I do hope that the extraverts out there can find a way to get into their comfort zones.

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