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One of the most accepted personality traits are introversion and extroversion. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator(MBTI) has made these two traits very popular.  Out of all the other traits, they’re the most recognizable when it comes to classifying personalities. We know that introverts are not comfortable speaking to a large group and that extroverts tend to get bored when alone. But there’s also a lot we don’t know. There’s the stereotype that introverts are shy and that extroverts are social party animals, but that’s not necessarily the case. Both personality traits are misunderstood, but the one the gets the most bad rap is introversion.

I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with the idea of being an introvert. I didn’t like being boxed in. I didn’t liked being associated with having a “negative” personality. Negative because society tends to reward more people that are “outgoing”, “dynamic”, and basically more “social”. There are introverts that get rewarded, like the Einstein’s and the Mozart’s, but they are the rare exceptions. I don’t know if this makes sense, but when your middle class and a introvert, you’re from another planet.  So I try not to make a big deal out of it and just be, but I’m always reminded when I take personality tests when filling job applications.

These personality tests with their four choices of agree, strongly agree, disagree, or strongly disagree seem silly, but I take them very seriously. They always instruct you to answer the questions as fast as you can, but I can’t do that. If I do, my introversion will quickly come out of the closet and will probably cost me not getting the interview, specially when they are customer service related positions. If you read the statement, “People who talk all the time are annoying” and find yourself clicking immediately “strongly agree”, you have to really think what this is really asking. These are one of those “gray area” moments in life and being yourself in this particular issue is not actually a “good” thing. I have to step back for most of the questions and think how “bad” or “good” my initial answer makes me look. The questions are not to filter out extroverts from introverts, but “bad” personalities from “good” ones. 

You may ask yourself why would a person that’s so aware of his introversion be applying for a job in customer service, but if you’re asking that, then your proving my point that these personality traits are very much misunderstood, specially introversion. We can deal with people, it’s just that the sphere of the people we can deal with is less than an extroverted can deal with. Our energy is drained faster and we need to be inside ourselves for a while to get it back.

Until DNA sequencing helps us better understand and predict people’s behavior, the best we have is things like the MBTI, but we shouldn’t stay a the popular knowledge level. We don’t have to turn into psychologists to be aware that it’s not as simple as dividing people into extroverts or introverts. There must be a better way to screen job applicants and judge if someone is apt for a  job.

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