Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Variations - Good or Bad? Well.....

Black and white.
      Sugar and salt.
Shadow and light.
      Quiet and loud.
Sad and happy.
      Love and hate.
Aromatic and odorless.
      Soft and prickly.


Ah, is that a different enough opening for you?  I'll explain it in a moment, but first, a brief introduction:

Lately I've noticed a lot of this:
Person A: "You're different, so there must be something wrong with you!"
Person B: "No there's not!"  Wait... is there something wrong with me?

I've noticed this personally, I've had several friends who I know have been through this (some still going through this), and I've seen people who I do not know much about at all, who are also going through this.  This post is to address it.  Because 1) I really feel that people like Person B need to hear something positive for once, to know they aren't crazy, and also 2) I am getting really tired of people thinking they have the right to judge what is "normal".

Okay, so the main thing I'm going to be addressing here, is the issue of extroversion vs. introversion.  Because this is the #1 thing I've seen my friends struggling with.

America is an extroverted country.  It just is!  I've heard that around 75% of the people in America are extroverts, and though I don't know if this figure is reliable, I do know that introverts are in the minority here. And so, we're surrounded by extroverts; people who don't mind chattering with people, don't mind being surrounded by people, are energized by people, are people persons... They love people!  And for the life of them, they can't understand people who aren't like them.  They look at introverts and ask, "What's wrong with you?"  "You need to learn to be extroverted!"  "You just aren't trying hard enough!"  "TRY HARDER!"

M'kay, I'm gonna clear some things up.

1) Though America is a largely extroverted country, guess what.  America is not the whole world.  Get this: If an extrovert goes to Europe, they're the ones who are going to be looked at funny.  European countries are largely introverted, and you know what?  It's okay.  So, if you're an introvert, surrounded by an army of extroverts like all the other introverts in America, take a deep breath and know this; the only reason you seem strange here, is because extroverts hold majority, not because there is something wrong with you.  You're just as normal as anyone else in that regard, so don't sweat it.  And next time an extrovert tells you that you need to learn to be extroverted so you'll be "normal", tell them to go to Europe and see how it feels to be the minority.

Before I go on to the next point, I want to make a point here.  I'm not meaning to bash extroverts with this post.  Honestly, this post could work both ways.  If I were writing to people in Europe, or some other introverted place, I might be encouraging extroverts and telling introverts to calm down.  But as I've never really experienced an introverted country, I can't really write to address it.  That is why I'm writing a post in this fashion; because America is what I've experienced, not because I hate extroverts.  I really do like extroverts, actually, they're entertaining and good at talking when I have no idea what to say!

Okay, next!

2) One does not learn to be extroverted.  You telling an introvert to learn to be an extrovert is like telling a bird to learn how to be a fish.  It doesn't work that way, people.  Yes, an introvert can learn to function around people, an introvert can learn to talk around people, but they cannot learn how to be an extrovert. Just as an extrovert cannot learn to be an introvert.  Extroverts draw energy from being around people.  Their brain is chemically made up differently.  That's right!  So unless you learn how to "fix" a brain, you're asking the impossible.  Research it yourself!  For starters, here is a link to an article about it:
Scientific Evidence for Extroversion and Introversion
So, one might learn to act like the other, but that is all it will be; an act.  An act that will cause more harm than good, because they aren't meant to be like that.  I can't express how angry I get when people tell someone they need to be someone they're not, when people tell another to change something that is an essential part of their being, something that is not meant to be changed.

Okay, back to the top.  Go read the amazingly mysterious opening lines I wrote.  Notice anything about them?  The first clump are opposites, right?  Black and white, sugar and salt, and so forth.  Any guesses as to how the second clump ties into the first?

Time's up.  Did you guess it?  The second clump are six very important things that we would not have without those opposites.  Roughly put.

If we didn't have black and white... and light and shadow... and purple and blue and grey and red and orange and all the variances in light and color, we wouldn't have anything to see, would we?

If there weren't salty and sweet and bitter and sour and all the in betweens, we wouldn't have anything to taste.  Right?

If there were no loud, but there was quiet, or if there was loud, but no quiet, we'd either be missing out on thunder and beautiful symphonies, or have blaring headaches.... and still be missing out on beautiful symphonies.

If there weren't variance in smell, if there were only one, constant scent, or no scent at all, what would we do with our noses?

What if there were no variance in touch?  What if everything we touched caused us pain?  What if everything were perfectly soft?  Everything equally soft.  What if there were no sorta-soft, or very-very-soft, or meh-not-so-soft?  We wouldn't know what soft was.  Why?  Because we'd feel it all the time, in the same way, and we would no longer have need for touch.

Lastly, and most important, what if there were no variance in feeling?  What if the only emotion we felt was sadness, day in and day out?  Always and forever, with no change?  What if the only emotion we felt was betrayal?  Or remorse?  And even if we only ever felt happy, what would that mean?  Happiness would lose its meaning, because we wouldn't have anything to compare it to.

Am I making my point here?  Overstating it?  Understating it?  Well, whichever it might be, I've made quite the long post, and shall now rap it up.

To those in the minority, the introverts; There is nothing wrong with being introverted.  It is normal, just a variance in personality, just as there is variance in sound and sight.  Don't believe the lie that there is something the matter with you because you're introverted.  Yes, it is good to learn to communicate and be able to function around people, but you don't need to become, you shouldn't, and you can't become, an extrovert.  Your brain is wired the way it is; there's no changing it, and there is no need to.  Most famous inventors and artists were introverts, and they made great impacts on humanity-- We wouldn't have lightbulbs without you!

To those in the majority, the extroverts; Don't ever tell an introvert that they are messed up for being introverted, and don't you dare ever tell them that they need to "learn to be an extrovert".  Telling someone they need to change their personality and be someone they aren't is the worst possible thing you could tell them to do.  Encouraging and helping them to function around people is one thing, disrespecting them because of their personality is another.  Also; keep up the extrovertedness and don't become introverts-- We introverts would be in just as much of a pickle without you as you would be without us.  Without extroverts we wouldn't have nearly as many awesome comedians and actors!

So there we are!  A long post that is hopefully illuminating, encouraging, and not too rant-y.

Until next time!
- The Raven