I used to have a straightforward response when people would wonder if I considered myself an introvert or extrovert. I would quickly say introvert, as I always embraced solitude over the comapny of others and listening rather than jumping into a conversation. As someone who cherished being alone, I never imagined there being a day where I would think of myself as being extroverted. And that day may have arrived, and now my straightforward response has switched into me wanting to scream WHO AM I? at the top of my lungs.
Although our identities are not permanent, and they change as time transcends, I used to pride myself in feeling as if I had a complete grasp of who I was. Self-awareness can bring comfort and peace, and it certainly did when I could confidently label myself as an introvert. From online tests to the people in my life, it felt as if the universe agreed that I was, indeed, an introvert. But then I had to ask myself a few questions, ones where I still search for the answers: was I quiet because I truly wanted to be, or because I felt as if I had to suppress my emotions? Did I feel happy isolating myself from others, or was I doing so because I feared I would be excluded by my peers first? Am I actually shy, or am I afraid of what others will think of me?
Coming to an epiphany, I realized that I only called myself an introvert to cover up my insecurities. I do not say that those who are introverts are so for the same reasons as I was, because that can’t be any farther from the truth, as Kaliane writes in this article. In my case, however, most of my introverted qualities were only there for negative purposes. I say most because I am a firm believer that solitude is crucial to our personal growth, whether we consider ourselves introverts or extroverts. But once I let go of my anxieties regarding how people would view me, I suddenly gained many extroverted characteristics. From conversing well with others one-on-one to being a good public speaker, I no longer felt like I embodied the definition of an introvert.
This leads me into my current mindset, where I am unsure of where I stand. Despite myself being talkative and outgoing, I still find discomfort in considering myself a straight-up extrovert. An ambivert is someone who falls in the middle, so I suppose that term best fits my condition. The irony of me containing extroverted aspects is that in the past, I did not have the kindest perspective of extroverts: I saw them as egocentric, attention seeking and phony.
Despite the feelings of chaos and rage that comes with having a minor identity crisis, it is important to acknowledge that at the end of the day, we should not feel compelled to have full definition of who we are. Thus, one should never fret over the introvert or extrovert question. Like with gender and sexuality, there is no need to confine yourself to a singular label. Although our society is consistently putting us into different categories and groups, never feel as if you must follow that same narrative. It is part of our human condition to be multifaceted: embrace your complexities rather than numbing them into a one-word statement.