Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Introvert Misconception #5: All introverts are Spock.

I told someone today that my Meyers-Briggs personality type is sometimes perceived to be too emotionally distant. (It's not just the Introvert factor coming in, it's also the S/N thing - I'm an S - and the J/P thing - I'm a J.)

This person responded, "Well, you are kind of emotionally distant. You want to get away from people."

I responded, "That's not emotional distance. That's physical distance," but the conversation had moved on to something else and I don't know that I made myself heard enough to make the distinction clear.

It's true, though, there's a big difference between emotional distance and physical or social distance. To me, emotional distance has very little to do with wanting to be around people. I know extroverts who are very emotionally distant but love to be surrounded by people. Emotional distant is about not letting people in. It's about not allowing yourself to be vulnerable or, sometimes, not allowing the vulnerabilities of others. Sometimes perceived emotional distance is about doing what needs to be done despite the emotional responses of yourself or others, which is not always a bad thing.

Either way, it's not the same as being an introvert.

I don't feel I am that emotionally distant. When I care about people, I care about them deeply. Last week I had several friends who were going through some really serious problems, and I stayed up late one night crying because it hurt that they hurt. And I am not even that private a person. Yes, there are some things I don't share with people, but for the most part I don't mind talking about myself and stuff I'm going through. (Especially in writing. Hence the blog.)

Some of the introverts I know are some of the most caring, emotionally open people I know. But somewhere in the culture is this embedded idea that introverts are all Spock from the original Star Trek series: cold, unemotional, unconcerned about others' emotions. And that just isn't true. So, spread the word. Introversion does not equal emotional distancing.

No comments:

Post a Comment