Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Extrovert/Introvert Societal Downfall

 
How often have you heard, "I'm an introvert" or "I'm an extrovert" as an excuse for something?

I had not given much thought to these personality traits until I went to college.
Suddenly, it was a way to label oneself, almost as an excuse for behavioral tendencies.

Situation "I":  A large group of people in a public setting.  The introvert, to avoid being uncomfortable, will say, "I'm an introvert," and avoid mingling.

Situation "E":  A large group of people in a public setting.  The extrovert will be loud and possibly obnoxious, giving, "I'm an extrovert," as reason for their boisterousness. 

Yes, I did generalize and exaggerate in the examples above to make a point.

Have you heard of Emily Post's etiquette books?  They were reference material to instruct people how to prepare for an event, act in various situations, and help people become adequate, social beings.

Have you read books set in a different century, particularly in an upper class setting, and observed the manner in which people interacted with each other (Jane Austen's novels are a perfect example)?

Have you heard of finishing school or read about young girls being sent to an instructor to learn how to receive visitors and serve tea (think Felicity of the American Girl books)?

Introverts and extroverts existed back then, too.  Chances are there were ways to tell their personalities.  But, despite how a person felt in situations, they knew how to make a person feel welcome, carry on small-talk, and have an intelligent conversation with someone they had just met.

I find myself wishing I knew the art of small-talk.  I used to be the most outgoing little person.  As a child I didn't know a stranger.  As a result my dad still tells me not to talk to strangers (I'm 21).  My parents taught me manners.  I spent a great deal of my childhood interacting with adults more than children.  But, I now feel stress in situations where I don't know what subject to bring up.  Perhaps I need to become more literate in current events and have a few interesting topics ready to broach in various settings.  Actually, I do.  I don't say all of that to laud myself.  I, too, have fallen into the same ditch of allowing labels to tell me what to expect.

I argue that these labels of "extrovert" and "introvert" should not be a reason or excuse for a person's behavior.  If someone is loud and annoying, please don't tell me they are an extrovert.  They may not know how to curb their enthusiasm in various situations.

If someone is not talking, keeping to themselves, and failing to interact in a way expected of them, please do not tell me they are introverted so that I will nod understandingly and "tut tut" it away.  We won't always be comfortable, but it is important to stretch ourselves with the purpose of becoming a well-rounded individual.

I have now put a level of expectation on myself.  Certainly I will fail.  But, I hope I will be more aware of my usage of "introvert" and "extrovert."  I hope I will strive to become more well-rounded and ladylike.  Grace under pressure, considerate when approached by rudeness, humility to those lacking manners, and cordiality to all.

Jane Austen Examples for each of the listed characteristics in order:

1.  Mrs. Dashwood when her step-son came to take over her estate
2.  Miss Elinor Dashwood in response to her sister-in-law and others
3.  Emma...who did fail by responding to Miss Bates rudely
4.  Anne Elliot of Persuasion fits this category, I believe.

I welcome your thoughts on the subject!

4 comments:

  1. This was an interesting post. Thanks for sharing I really enjoyed it.

    lovethegardners.blogspot.com

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  2. Replies
    1. Thanks, Nikki! I love you!
      You should blog some more!

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