Confessions of an Extrointrovert

I’ve been thinking lately – always dangerous, I know – about the labels we apply to ourselves and to others. I’ve always, or at least for the majority of my life, considered myself to be an extrovert. I’m good in conversations and not fazed by meeting new people in a social setting. I’m happy to chat to people I don’t know that well. But, as usual, along comes a buzzfeed that describes introverts and I’m agreeing along with each point. What happened there? Well, it slowly started to dawn on me that I’m an introvert with some optional extras.

Via sciencedaily.comMainly narcissism.

But, it got me thinking that the labels we choose for ourselves are just as restricting as the labels that others give us. It’s awful when someone pigeon holes us and refuses to believe we’re anything other than what they think we are, particularly if what they think we are is something they don’t like. But we stick ourselves firmly with these labels that we wear to find like-minded people. There’s nothing wrong with looking for shared interest, of course, but I wonder how much we play up to those labels in certain situations and whether we use them as a comfort zone from which to operate. Again, nothing wrong with having a safety zone.

Via wallgc.comOr a safety word.

But a safety zone only works as long as you’re willing to leave it from time to time. The point of a safety zone is the place you go to feel safe, not the place you live your life. Labels, in some ways, are a convenient way to be fearful of the world. Others use them about you to put you in your place. Part of it is a way to think about someone without really getting to know you, in the same way that we use shorthand labels for the traits of people from other countries (the English are snooty, the French smell, the Americans are obnoxious yadda yadda yadda). None of these things are an accurate representation of people from those countries and usually a label you get assigned is not the most accurate version of you. So you label yourself something more accurate. All fine so far, except that you then go on to live as that label forever and ever. Okay, so there’s nothing wrong with doing what you love, but you might love something else that you haven’t yet considered. So that’s what I’ve been thinking about – go out and be unafraid, for as the philosopher Bertrand Russell once wrote “the end of fear is the beginning of wisdom.”



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