you are not just an introvert

Ever since Susan Cain’s Quiet hit the shelves, people are rapidly classifying themselves as extroverts or introverts. Way back when, extroverts are the people who take the centre stage – they are the desirable people. Suddenly, the whole paradigm shifts, and it’s time for introverts to rule.

…or to freely declare that they are indeed, introverts, at the very least.

I’ve seen countless quizzes on Facebook, with friends and acquaintances posting that they are the quiet ones. I’ve seen ’10 characteristics of introverts’, ‘are you introvert or extrovert? Take our quiz’ and a lot of other variation of articles between the two. I’ve seen blogs and websites posting about how to deal with introverts at work.

…which, I think, it’s being overdone somehow.

As for myself, I was an extrovert, or so I believed. In high school, I was involved with the student council, and I delivered the graduation speeches. I didn’t get too nervous while presenting, and I was a talker – I found it easy to talk with other people.

Fast-forward a couple more years and I become an introvert. I recharge by being alone. I love my coffee time with my journal, my book, and my iPad. I say no more times than yes to invitations to go out. I prefer to snuggle on the couch while watching TV.

And yet defining myself as introvert or extrovert is not really the point, isn’t it?

As an extrovert, do you use your talents and gifts? As an introvert, do you brainstorm in a way that showcases your strength?

While the debate of introverts vs extroverts and whether-my-personality-is-better-than-yours continue, it’s becoming more annoying to witness people defining themselves with words. With classifications. Like, if there’s one thing I learn from my psychology classes, it’s that classifying people into words and groups is dangerous. Really. Diagnose a five-year-old with ADHD while she is perfectly fine, just a little bit enthusiastic, may ruin the child’s and family’s lives forever.

So what’s the danger in classifying ourselves as extroverts or introverts?

We can make excuses.

Oh, I’m an introvert, that’s why I hate going out and meet people and you all need to understand that. It’s not that I don’t want to put any effort, this is just who I am.

And I’m an extrovert. I tend to say what’s in my heart and I may blabber a lot, but this is who I am as well. I don’t mean what I say, not 100 per cent, at least. Sometimes I just talk too much to fill the awkward gap.

While making classifications may be good as a way to understand ourselves and to maximise our gifts in a way that aligns with our preferred way of growing, it can also do harm. Today, I see the second trend much more.

…which I believe is not what the authors, researchers, or theorists out there want to achieve.

I guess it all comes down to this: I believe we are all much more than a series of classifications and groups.

Don’t limit yourself, or make an excuse for yourself. You are who you are, and who you are striving to be. These series of words, groupings, and classifications do not define you.

You are much more than just an introvert or extrovert.

So be like one.


Photo by Nick Wheeler