I’m happy and I’m sad. I like being with people and I like to be alone. I like risks and I am cautious. Do I sound like a confused teen who doesn’t know who she is? Perhaps. But I think I don’t have to be one thing or the other. I can be both and so can you. We don’t have to be boxed into thinking that we have to be this or that. No. Life isn’t that simple and shit is complicated. People are complicated.
I recently read a great book called Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work by Heath and Heath and they talk about this concept of widening your options. To get away from using the word OR and replace that with AND. This can be applied to work – you’re being presented some options and they say you can go with option A or option B. Well if we reframe the way we think, then we can ask why not both or why not an alternate option – like option C? The same goes with people. You can feel and be multiple things at any given time and that’s okay. Just because you’re a happy person and you like to be with people doesn’t mean you also don’t have days where you don’t care about anything and you want to be alone. That’s not an “off” day – that’s just you being you.
People and society like labels. They like perfect words and descriptions of who people are so that they can predict how they’ll act. If I said I was an extrovert, what comes to mind? I enjoy being with people, I like to talk out loud, I like to try new things. Now what if I liked being alone after a long day at work? What if I needed time to process things? Are you going to call me an introvert? You’ve labeled me to fit me into one box because that’s your schema of how things work and who people are. We can’t approach life with labeling people with one descriptor and we also don’t have to label ourselves that way. You have unlimited words to define yourself and the more context you can provide as to who you are and what you like and don’t like, the better people can understand you and not make assumptions.
If there is anything you should take away from this, it is not to be limited by the OR options and the OR people of the world. You can be it all. You do not fit into a simple term – you are not introverted or extroverted. You are not type A or type B. You are not a hippie or a cowboy. You can be introverted and extroverted – it’s your preference who to be when. When you label as one or the other, you play into that role and you start seeing things the way you are asked to see it. That’s not you. You are complicated and you are unique and you are you. As Heath and Heath say, widen your options. Because if you don’t, I guarantee you’ll miss an opportunity. You gotta do you. All of you.
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