Extrovert/Introvert/Ambivert? Why These Personality Labels Should Be Removed

I wake up in the middle of the night, going over in my head the job interview. “Did I sound confident enough?” “Did I present my personality in the right way?” These thoughts keep spinning in my head as I try to focus myself back to sleep. Will someone like me for this personality?

I recently talked with my husband about the concept of being an extrovert, introvert, or an ambivert. He told me these seemed to be silly concepts because personalities fluctuate with time. He thought no one could strictly be an extrovert or an introvert – even using ambivert seemed to constricting of a label.

I decided to think about what he had to say a little more. Has my personality changed over time? I have to say yes, it really has changed – from the influences of society.

When I was elementary aged, I talked a lot. I remember looking back at old report cards and see that my teachers wrote about me talking during class, during extracurriculars, or asking too many questions. Being an only child, I imagine this was because of being around people my age and those who I considered my friends, since I would usually only see them during the week. I was quiet around new kids or strange kids in different settings. This is when I was usually content with playing by myself.

As I grew older, I didn’t talk as much in class. I became more conscious of what I was saying and didn’t want to say the wrong thing. If it was something I was knowledgeable or passionate about, you can bet I would not stop talking. When I went off to college, I barely talked in class and my participation grades suffered. I never felt the need to talk unless something really stuck with me or I felt moved to speak. I had one professor tell me she wished I spoke up more because I had some profound thoughts.

While making friends in college, I will have many attest to not realising how loud I can be once I get to know them more. Everyone who I have met thinks I’m a quiet person because I do not say much when first getting to know someone. Then I invite them to a comedy gig or out to a club, and they see a different side of me.

From graduate school there was one comment that irked me. One of the lecturers said I was “quiet and unassuming”, but that I needed to “show more personality” on one of my assignments. I grew mad at reading their comments. I thought it was unfair because this lecturer only met me a handful of times and only knew me in an educational setting (especially while a pandemic was going on).

From thinking about all of how I’ve changed as I’ve grown, I have decided I do not care what “personality type (i.e. ambivert, extrovert, introvert)” I may fit under to a specific person. When it comes to jobs, I think constricting a person to one of these types is damaging. Someone who is quiet when working can still lead a group meeting. As with someone who is naturally able to work with clients and customers, may still not be confident enough to give a presentation.

Everyone has a different side to them in different situations. I think it’s just time we eliminate these constrictions and ideas that come with these personality labels.

xx Hannah

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