flickr

An Extroverted Introvert?

flickr

Is there such a thing? The distinction between introversion and extroversion suggests that they are seemingly poles apart, appearing as a distinct dichotomy before my puzzled eyes. So… what happens when you’re neither? 

It’s a question that crops up from time to time, people eagerly awaiting your answer to: ‘…so introvert or extrovert?’ (if they haven’t already taken one look at you and decided), trying to match up your personalities as though they’re filling in a friendship compatibility checkbox of some sort. Obviously these categories exist on a spectrum, but most of the time it doesn’t really seem like it, appearing instead as sweeping statements. Extroverts are known as social butterflies and loud attention lovers, whilst introverts are considered quiet, book loving, antisocial individuals. While this may apply – at least to some extent – to some, (or even most) individuals from each category, the apparent dichotomy suggests you can’t coexist as both a party animal and book lover, and that’s obviously incorrect. You can be one thing whilst also being its seemingly “opposite” thing at the same time. But this isn’t translated into the blanket terms ‘introvert’ and ‘extrovert’, because they are just that: blanket terms. They’re limited to their rigid definitions, unable to evaluate the extent that each characteristic applies within the limitations of a single word (and up against the millions of people it tries to describe), but rather the fact that a trait is likely to apply, based on research.

Creative Commons

Creative Commons

And I know we don’t need labels, but when labels are already prominent, why not find one that you identify with? Whilst blanket terms such as ‘introvert’ and ‘extrovert’ use the same brush with which to paint individuals from respective categories, rather than just inserting yourself into a box, why not push against its walls, testing its limits and figure out where you lie on the spectrum? A little research helped me to discover the term ‘ambivert’, which I was not previously aware of, but am glad to have found. It’s basically people with a blend of introverted and extroverted qualities – which I think most of us probably are, to varying degrees. I welcomed this discovery with open arms; I now know why I wasn’t comfortable with identifying either as an introvert or an extrovert. Attempting to do so forced me to ignore an entire part of myself in attempt to fit into a cookie-cutter personality, as it seemed a case of ‘either’/’or’.

Creative Commons

Creative Commons

Even though I’ve now found this term that seems a lot more flexible, I still don’t see any of these terms as something that defines you, but rather something that you may relate to. And when is it not nice to relate to something? *glances at memes* Being able to identify with one of the above terms either in their most extreme forms or somewhere along the spectrum can be helpful for a number of reasons, making it more than just another label.  Self-awareness is key in all aspects of life and knowing what type of personality you have feeds into this.  Knowing your personality type can inform relationships you get into based on compatibility, but also extends to other aspects of life such as helping to determine – or at least to narrow down – career paths. Measuring your personality against the many fields out there can indicate what kind of work environments you would thrive in, and gauge what excites you, all based on who you are.

So relate, evaluate, push against and when you’re comfortable: settle. Don’t shy away from a collection of traits that describe you that just so happen to be bound up in a word, but be sure to look beyond it. A cold string of letters will never do the warmth of a beating heart justice, and will always fall short of aptly encapsulating who you are.

Leave a Comment