I’m taking a psychology paper on Personality Development this semester. One of the earliest ‘personality’ distinctions humans made was between extroverts (the original spelling extravert is rarely used nowadays but still found in technical use in psychology) and introverts, which most of us know in a way that they are able to tell the one from the other. When I chatted about this with a friend, I mentioned that I thought I was an introvert. He laughed and shook his head and said there was no way: I approached people, I was the president of a society, I talked a lot, and so on. I argued that I force myself into social situations because I know they’re good for me, and I usually end up having a good time, yet I do often panic a bit about making small talk because I feel uncomfortable if there’s some (awkward) silence between me and someone else. Yet I do like talking and sharing everything’s that’s been happening – I am a rather open book, ask me anything and I’ll reply straight-forwardly. So yeah, I can see why people could think that I am an extrovert. Maybe I was more of an introvert when I was younger and I’ve become more extroverted. Still, I feel like the ‘extrovert’ label doesn’t really fit me.
So, am I like just a bit of both? While extroversion and introversion are on a continuum which means that, if you’re low on one you’re high on the other, everyone has an extroverted and introverted side, one being somewhat more dominant than the other. If you fall in the middle of both, you could be seen as ambivert, someone who enjoys time alone yet is also okay in social settings (“yeah sweet, why not go to a party today (while I do like to be by myself too though)”). Similarly, you can also be a pseudo-extrovert; someone who’d score high on extroversion if rated by friends but would gain more introvert scores in self-reports. People like that would react more like this: “uh, a party, hm, I’d rather stay home by myself…” – and then a second voice comes into play – “sure, but you know that once you’re at a party you normally do enjoy yourself and you gotta get out of your flat a bit, it will do you good.”
So to clarify, my dear friend(s), I may seem like an extrovert but I’d probably fit more into the ‘ambivert’ or ‘pseudovert’ category (I can’t quite make my mind up which one of the two, which just shows that…). In the end though, this is just a whole lot of categorisation and stereotyping – does it really matter to know whether you’re this or that!? It may help you understand why you behave in certain ways (you might not like yourself for rather staying at home than partying with your friends, so in knowing that that’s just your ‘introvert personality’ you might be more able to accept your feelings) but ultimately, we’re all different and not just ‘introverts, extroverts, ambiverts or pseudoverts‘, there’s so many aspects that make us who we are, that make us special. Many little things add up to your unique personality – with flaws and aspects to really appreciate. That’s the perfection of us human beings: Imperfection.