We don’t hesitate to diagnose and throw labels around these days. You make sure your doors are locked at night, you have OCD. You don’t like sharing drinks, you’re a germaphobe. You spent three hours distracted from responsibilities and clicking through YouTube, you’ve got ADD. And a lot of those videos were in 1080p, so perhaps you even have ADHD? We exaggerate, sometimes insensitively, as conditions like OCD can be serious and life inhibiting in severe cases. While the terms introvert and extrovert are nothing more than personality adjectives, humans aren’t always so cut-and-dried.
Depending on the situation, I can be one or the other at any given time. The Packers scored a touchdown? I’M VOCALLY CELEBRATING WITH THE LOUDEST OF ‘EM! At a party where many in attendance are small-talking, conversation controlling, attention seeking types? I’m drained after five minutes and want nothing more than to retreat to the sanctuary that is my bedroom. The point here is that we don’t all fit the description of one term, and sometimes we confuse those definitions entirely.
A while back we discussed The Difference Between Shy, Introverted, Extroverted, And Obnoxious, which strived to clear up some common confusion surrounding these labels. In the process I realized that myself, and perhaps some of you good folks out there might actually be leaning more towards one category because of our other characteristics, even if that’s not entirely how we feel. I find myself in a lot of scenarios where I feel the urge to act in an outgoing, social manner that would typically be associated with extroversion, but my self-consciousness holds me back. I think to myself, there are a lot of people here and so many things could go wrong, until eventually I’ve talked myself out of it or the moment’s opportunity has passed.
It can be anything – an opportunity to go crazy on the dance floor, tell a witty joke, introduce yourself to someone you’d like to meet – all these moments never coming to fruition because your brain plays out 1,000 worst case scenarios to talk you out of it. Your insecurities prevail over and over until eventually, sitting quietly in corners and biting your tongue becomes second nature. What people see on the surface is an introvert; a reserved individual who enjoys being alone with his or her own thoughts. Sometimes that’s the case, other instances it couldn’t be any further from correct.
Are you an introvert, or have the other less social, apprehensive aspects of your personality led you under a category to which you don’t necessarily belong? How does one tell if they’re an introvert, or an extrovert who simply lacks the confidence to live up to the oral, outgoing definition? Here’s how I knew I’m a mixture of things: Sometimes I want to be a wallflower, other times I shy away from spotlights that I wouldn’t mind standing in because I’m worried about how I’ll be perceived. Sometimes I hate small talk, sometimes I love it, and other times I bite my tongue because I worry others might not care or embrace what I have to say. Sometimes when I have an idea, I’ll really evaluate it, going over every detail and trying to modify it to perfection before sharing, but I’d rather present it early on and revise it in a brainstorm with others.
I can kid myself and sum up my ways by claiming introversion, but my reservations are often a result of fear as well. Fear of being laughed at instead of with, offending instead of entertaining, failing instead of succeeding, crashing and burning instead of riding off into the sunset like a boss. For those of you who feel similar, I think we should take the fact that we feel unsatisfied with particular moments as a clear indicator that we aren’t living in a way that allows our lives & potential to reach its fullest. We’re playing it safe, keeping things to ourselves, making politically correct statements, sitting when we want to stand, looking away when we want to move towards, and trying to convince ourselves that everything is peachy when we know something is missing. We’ve felt bad, we’ve felt content and we’ve felt happy, but extraordinary is still out there, hiding somewhere that we can only reach by freeing our minds and taking leaps into whatever makes us happiest in that very moment.