I said what I said.
We as a society love to label everything, but lately I’ve just not been feeling the introverted and extroverted ones. For a while, they were a binary. You were either one or the other, and it was literally on some job applications, so it was something you had to know about yourself and really be. And then, at some point, we went a step further and started saying “oh, I’m an introverted extrovert” or vice versa, which is just kind of dumb in my opinion. I’d rather ambivert, but honestly, just say that you’re a normal human capable of more than one emotion and have different comfort levels in different settings. It’s normal.
I’ve been to parties or events where people are constantly asking if I’m okay because I’ll be sitting very quiet and out of the main group. I don’t think these people would believe that at home my parents often tell me I’m too loud or that I have other friends who think of me as a talkative leader. I’m just not comfortable or secure in some of those parties, so I’m quieter. Maybe we like to see others as one-dimensional and understandable, so we tend to lean into these binaries when considering others.
Don’t get me wrong, I do it too. There was this one kid in my elementary school who would literally not talk. He’d say maybe 100 quiet words the whole year. He’d just sit quietly and read whenever he could and not really engage with anyone who tried to talk to him. We all just accepted it. But then one time my friend said he saw this kid playing road hockey with a neighbour on a Saturday. He was laughing and talking and participating. I didn’t believe it, but my friend insisted. To us at school, he was very introverted, but I guess classmates were never who he connected with, and he was more comfortable with this neighbour.
The thing about introversion and extroversion is that it’s only slightly about personality and more about mental and physical preferences. A lot of people think that ‘shy’ and ‘outgoing’ are synonyms for introverted and extroverted, respectively (and because of this, introversion was seen as less than), but this is not entirely true. It’s more about if you feed off others in groups and if you need alone time either to reset or as a preference.
And I can respect that some people really value alone time more and that some people need that mental break, but I feel like the need for solo time to oneself is true for basically everyone. We all need moments alone and we all need time to calm down, whether you enjoy wild parties or not. So why bother with these labels then? Why make it so we feel like we have to pick one when we do personality quizzes or, as I mentioned, job applications?
I feel like even the ideas of being ‘shy’ or ‘outgoing’ aren’t understood to be as encompassing or full-time, but as soon as we slap a psychology term on it, it’s an unwavering life sentence.
As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this? Do you feel like the terms introvert or extrovert perfectly capture your essence? Do you value alone time more than others? Do you think we should stop using these terms?
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8 thoughts on “It’s Time To Get Rid Of Introverted And Extroverted Labels”
I like introvert because I feel like it gives people an idea of what to expect about me, especially when trying to make new friends. But it can be a clunky label and can mean different things to different people. I use it in the sense that I like and need to be around people sometimes, but if the group is more rowdy and talkative, I’m not going to force my way into a conversation (but that doesn’t mean I’m not enjoying the event). If I’m in a smaller setting though, or if you approach me, I can be very friendly and outgoing. I also do better in groups where I know what my role is, or where I know we all have a shared interest, rather than groups that are just together to “hang out.” I guess it boils down to liking a little structure with my social scene.
That’s a fair point. Whether we like them or not, people do mostly understand the terms, and that can be useful. I also very much like knowing my role/where I stand with people.
It’s funny because I almost feel like I don’t fit into either category. I’m loud and I love to talk to people, yet social events make me exhausted, so I need to mentally re-charge. I feel like both extrovert and introvert don’t fit me.
Exactly. I think that’s normal. I’m glad others also don’t feel like they perfectly fit into that one box.
I’m not entirely convinced we should eliminate both terms entirely, since they do act as a guide to general preferences and behavioral patterns. However, it may be time to add “ish” to the end of each one. (See: introvert’ish, extovert’ish)
Very good point. -ish should be used more, actually. It really gets the job done.
[…] exhausted. Both introvert and extrovert doesn’t seem to fit my personality. After reading Donovan’s blog post “It’s Time to Get Rid of Introverted and Extroverted” I wanted to talk about my experience with labeling myself as either an introvert or an […]