In the past few years, there has been a new trend arising as a topic of discussion in social circles. “So, are you an extrovert or an introvert?“, or “Which one do you think I am?“, or, “Which one is better”, are some of the common phrases surrounding discussions of that nature. Countless books, articles and blog posts are being written, listing characteristics of each type, focusing more on the introverts. Some opinions are even championing the introverted personality types, as somehow “better” than the extroverts.
Given the above facts, it strikes me that there is a blatant misconception surrounding this subject, even creating a polarized effect in some cases. As we all know, once something has been claimed by popular culture, it needs to struggle greatly not to be warped by it. The same struggle exists now with introverts and extroverts. It suddenly became trendy to take pride in staying inside with a book and a cup of tea, instead of being outside, partying and engaging in a “vapid” lifestyle along with the other boneheads. Does this sort of thinking seem right to you, reader? Because it certainly does not seem to make much sense to me.
The trait of extroversion and introversion is a psychological term, first coined by Carl Jung. It later came to inspire other noted psychologists and propel their research forward, deepening our knowledge of the human personality and helping the scientific community improve their analyses of our psyche. It’s not some trendy new fad that dictates one being cooler than the other. Yet, the misconception is this, in a summarized version: Introverts are artistic, mysterious, misunderstood, reflective, and – wait for it – deep. Extroverts are just the regular crowd pleasers, who only think about fun.
I am not in any way claiming that this is how all people think. I am stating, however, that pop culture has managed to make this fascinating mechanism and discrepancy of human nature into a silly tug-of-war. In fact, not many people know that the term “ambiversion“ exists; or that introversion and extroversion are not seen as opposing states, but as sides of the same coin. To psychologists and those who like to look a little further, it is known that these personality traits are simply fluctuating states in a continuum, that of the human psyche. That means that there is no “you are either one or the other, and by the way, that’s waaaaaaaaay cooler”; it means that some people are extroverts, some introverts, and some can be extroverted introverts and vice-versa.
However, for those wishing to better understand introverted and extroverted characteristics for friends, family, loved ones or their own selves, this is most commonly what happens:
- Extroverts get energy by social interaction. Introverts derive energy from solitary activities. Social interaction is where they exert that energy.
- Although introverts enjoy alone time, it doesn’t necessary mean they are soft spoken or don’t talk much in situations. Introversion is not the same as social awkwardness or anxiety, even if they can be connected.
- On the other hands, extroverts are not always loud and bold.
- For the love of god, neither is better that the other.
- Introverts don’t “just need to get out of their shell more”. They are more than capable of choosing when to leave their shell. It’s cozy there.
- Each person can enjoy introverted or extroverted activities, or something in between. It’s not a label or a confine.
To sum it up, it seems like nowadays there is almost a pressure to identify as either an introvert or an extrovert, although that is nothing more than a silly trend. Knowing ourselves is a very long journey, and certainly nothing that can be checked by ticking boxes on a list of characteristics. Let’s all just keep on exploring, yes?
art by Hayat AlHassan (@HayatAlH)
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