In a world that’s gone a bit too trigger-happy with the label maker in hand, we tend to stick big yellow tags on everything.
Does he like sports? Such a jock. Does she brag about liking things before they are cool? Classic hipster. Does he never shut up and love attention? Typical extrovert. She likes to read and spend time alone? Introvert.
I like to read and spend time alone. I also love performing in front of large audiences and talking until someone tells me to shut up. Where does that leave me? Running worthlessly between the two categories? That’s obviously a lie – we all know, I don’t run. This fictional need for attention, which extroverts are believed to have, is a complete joke.
An unspoken war?
There seems to be an unspoken (or wait, outspoken – there are several books written about this) war between the two sides, with the extroverts shooting off jeers and witty comebacks and introverts silently sending death glares over enemy lines. Why is it like this?
The amount of speeches I’ve heard about the unspoken power of introverts makes me think –Why are extroverts always portrayed as the obnoxious antagonist who will eventually take over the world?
And we’ve all seen movies with the two best friends, where one outshines the other with contempt. People are who they are. Being accommodating about nervousness to speak to people is not the same as pitying these people. Encouraging those who are reserved to interact is not the same as being annoyed with others who can express themselves eloquently.
I’m sorry – this makes zero sense to me.
It’s the hyped up speeches about how introverts are unappreciated in society that create a further rift between the ‘two groups’, when in reality we should be smudging the line of ignorance. No human being is black or white. They shouldn’t be classified as either or, extrovert or introvert. Why are there more and more angry rants online, and fewer posts like this?
I think it’s time to bust myths.
In fact, the terms ‘introvert’ and ‘extrovert’ have been abysmally misconstrued today. First popularized by Carl Jung, he used them to describe the ends of a spectrum, not two fixed categories each human being must fall into.
While ‘introverts’ have their challenges, ‘extroverts’ have to jump through hoops too. We don’t have the world at our feet (despite popular belief). We have to be very careful about what we say, sensitive to the feelings of others, so we don’t hurt them. We’re expected to speak up when the Boss walks in the door, an automatic representative of the ‘introverts’. It’s a lot of work.. and pressure. Public speaking is nerve wracking for us too, subjectively speaking.
An ambivert myself, there are days nobody can convince me to doll up and go out, leaving the comfort of my quilt and sheets and the exciting tales of J.K. Rowling. There are days when even the poetry of Fitzgerald couldn’t keep me between the four walls of my bedroom. There are tendencies to be introverted and extroverted, so that we aren’t obnoxiously loud or frighteningly silent, but hiding behind labels is going to limit us all – the ‘introverts’ and ‘extroverts’.
This is good news for people who identify with either side: You can train to be expressive and you can train to be softer. What would you like to enhance?
Human beings are complex creatures (or so we like to believe). We need to treat them that way, with equal respect whether they like talking to you or whether they find it nerve racking.
Next time we find ourselves silently categorizing every person we know, let’s remember our good friend Carl Jung and what he said
“There is no such thing as a pure introvert or extrovert. Such a person would be in the lunatic asylum.”
Now do you think you’re an extrovert? Tell us in the comments below.