-Bethani Thomas, Opinions Editor
“Well are you an introvert or an extrovert?”
I heard this question asked probably five times last night in a room full of senior females trying to figure out whether to find a roommate after college or not. I have asked and been asked that question countless times—heck, I’ve even analyzed my relationship with my significant other through the lens of introvert and extrovert thinking. But I’m trying to change that.
I was reading this article last week (because that’s what everyone does these days) on this website appropriately titled “Loner Wolf – thinking differently, living differently.” The author writes that Jung and Briggs, when creating this linear continuum of degrees from introversion to extroversion (kind of like the Ph scale), they proposed that, “everyone has both an extroverted side and an introverted side.”
Of course, this is probably not a revelation to you—everyone has a little bit of both in their personality. But I think sometimes we all get carried away by trying to pin someone’s, or even our own, personality, that we forget the idea of degrees of a personality, and even the constant changing and maturing of a personality.
For example, someone takes a quiz online titled, “Are you more introverted or extroverted?” may get the result: “you are 35% introverted and 65% extroverted!” and they then say, “I always knew I was an extrovert!” So from then on, they define themselves in that manner. Mateo Sol, the “Loner Wolf”, describes how some adhere to personality type quizzes to be a “lucid way of understanding” ourselves. He writes, “We seem to believe that our entire emotional and mental functions as a human being perfectly correlate with this well thought out, 4-letter description of who we are. Introspection and self-analysis just became a whole lot easier—just 70 questions away to discovering who you really are.”
I was talking with a friend, Ian Hammond, about the personality type phenomenon that seems to fill up my Facebook news feed with “I’m an INTJ!” or “ENFP describes me PERFECTLY!!!” On the one hand he agreed with my subtle distaste for using these results to define ourselves and carry meaning in our lives. But he also warned me not to generalize others’ reactions to the results. He told me that a few years ago he found out his personality type and that it really provided insight into who he was at the time and showed him strengths and weaknesses in his personality that really did match up.
Every introvert needs people, and any extrovert who truly desires to be around people 24/7 has some maturing to do—and that is what I want to say. We change constantly throughout our lives. I had a pretty extreme extroverted personality and wanted to constantly people-please before I started dating Wil. Wil, (I’m speaking for him here) had a pretty extreme introverted personality and wasn’t as excited about meeting new people before he started dating me. We’ve brought each other into a healthier balance and even now are growing and morphing into more mature personality types.
So what I want to leave you with is this: don’t put yourself in a personality type box. As Loner Wolf says beautifully, “I believe that people are simply more dynamically complex than the way we polarize ourselves.” Even the Lord says in Psalm 139 that He knew our complexities when He “knit us together in our mother’s womb.” We are intricately made and will probably spend our whole lives in a series of self-discovery, then growth, the re-self-discovery, and then more growth. We will constantly change in different contexts and adapt to new surroundings and step bravely into abrupt beginnings, and this is a beautiful thing.