When I express my interest in meeting new people, some turn towards me with a look of surprise. How can anyone so quiet be so keen to meet others? Surely, this must be a personal ploy to appear outgoing even though I'm clearly not. Clearly, I am incorrectly in labeling myself as an extrovert.
But just as creativity comes in all different fashions, extroversion shows itself in many various forms. Not every leader is the same, and not everyone who thrives off social interactions thrives in exactly the same way.
My approach to social situations may come off as rather laid back, but personally, I feel energized by the buzz of voices and abundance of character that can be found in a single room. I thrive off of getting to know others and learning a bit more about what makes them tick.
The labels "introvert," and "extrovert," fail to properly encapsulate personalities as entities. Yet we so commonly rely on such labels to determine what kind of a person someone is.
Sure, it's helpful to know when someone may become easily anxious in a group, and who may be the right someone to bring along to events and socials. But it remains imperative that we look past descriptions that stand so broad. As commonly as I'm mistaken to be reserved, it's probable that there's someone out there who likes more casual situations, who talks loudly and is therefore mistaken as extroverted.
And just because you imagine a person one way after the first impression, does not mean you have them figured out. We see the surface, even those of us who pride ourselves on not being superficial. We pick a memorable aspect of the dreaded or anticipated first interaction with a future friend, coworker or classmate and we cling to it.
Later, we may be surprised with a fun fact our new companion may have harbored due to a lack of trust at first. I wait to reveal much of who I am until I can confidently say I trust a person, not for the sake of mystery, but rather to protect myself from potential heartbreak or downfall.
I may stay quiet sometimes because watching others light up, smile and share their passions fascinates me. I notice more than I lead on. And for this reason, I surprise others with my ability to remember facts and names. I like to talk, ask my best friends, they'll probably tell you I never shut up.Just as often as I enjoy speaking, I get utterly lost in the confines of my brain, thoughts swirling a million miles a minute. Call me a space cadet or call me quiet, but honestly, sometimes I just forget to share my voice. And that doesn't make me one thing or another. That makes me a bit different, a bit in the middle you might say.
I might say it's healthier for us to not dwell so hard on characterizing ourselves or others. Yes, it's human nature, and yes studies have been done to create these categories. But when you place someone in a box, self-fulfilling prophecy springs into action and they trap themselves in this box.
I used to wonder if I should attempt speaking up, because if people thought I was quiet maybe it was because they didn't want to listen when I spoke. I came to the realization that I was incorrect, but if we instead listen to the interests of others and do our best to cater to those interests, as long as it is not at the sake of our own well-being, we can be the friends, coworkers and significant others that we have always hoped to be.
Not every extrovert is the same. Not every introvert is the same. When you create only two terms to overarch the entire population, you will have outliers. You will find some that don't quite fit into the box, some that don't fit the archetype you fashioned in your mind.
If I've learned one thing about people in my near twenty years on this planet, it's that they are unpredictable. You could know someone your whole life and still learn something new about them every day. We don't even have ourselves figured out.
How do we ever expect to have others figured out? We can be kind and practice patience and we can spend a little less time focusing on the labels and a little more time on getting to know others on a deeper level.