While shuffling through new blog posts you often encounter texts that are similar in content. There are the What’s In A Name –posts (usually an introduction to the meaning of the word and why exactly it’s in the name of the blog), Liebster Award –posts, 20 Facts About Me, etc… And then there are the less obvious I’m an Introvert! –announcements.
What I find baffling about these coming-outs is that there are so many of them. It’s not that I didn’t expect there to be millions of introverts out there, quite the opposite as a matter of fact, I just find it odd people feel the need to make such a declaration. It’s almost like there existed some kind of confrontation between extroverts and introverts and you were required to pick a side as if there was no middle ground.
The terms extraversion and introversion were both popularized by Carl Jung, a.k.a. the psychoanalyst who would probably interpret my dreams of eating crisps as a sign of suppressed sexual desires towards my mother. Plainly speaking, Jung divided people in age old philosophers and five year-old little boys; you were either insightful and interested in the unperceivable or you were highly excitable with a focus on objects that could be seen and touched.
Now “being extroverted” has become synonymous with “being a people-person”, even if Jung’s original notion of extraversion and introversion wasn’t intended for the use of describing an individual’s relationship to other people. While many Jungian introverts may have been social misfits, there were others who were perfectly charismatic. But to be fair the modern notion of introversion doesn’t either assume that all introverts are wallflowers, but that they simply prefer being by themselves than being in a room full of half-strangers.
Many people argue that introverts have it tougher in working life, because they may not be as talented as extroverts in representing themselves in work interviews and asking for a promotion. While this may indeed be a challenge for some introverts, they usually always have some other qualities about them that make them good in other areas. It’s also worth considering that in some cultures or even workplaces introverts are preferred over extroverts and mostly because they are considered more suitable for the job. It could therefore be said that extroverts face often the same issues as introverts do and their extraversion can be equally as disadvantageous.
But what about those who do not identify with either of the two extremes? A few years back I could’ve been the very embodiment of introversion but things have slowly changed since then. Perhaps there are times when we prefer being by ourselves and times when we like being surrounded by people, constantly switching from introversion to extraversion.
So why the labelling? I guess people find comfort in knowing that there are people like them. But this comfort comes with the price of acknowledging the demerits of belonging to these groups. In the worst case, you’re not as intro-/extroverted as you think and believe that these disadvantages actually apply to you when in reality they don’t. Consequently you may not be able to live up to your potential.
I can’t find a sufficient reason for these two terms existing in every day language. They somehow seem to cause more harm than good, so why can’t we just drop them? Instead of trying to categorize yourself, why not concentrate on being the wonderful, individualistic You and leave the generalizations to the psychiatrists.