I have an upcoming family event that I’m dreading. It involves a marriage and one of the very extroverted maternal wings of my family. This family branch tends to be very showy, ostentatious, loud, extroverted, and I would go a far to say, superficial.
This contrasts with my other familial wings which tend to be introverted. Almost my entire paternal line is introverted, and some of my mother’s line is as well. My immediate family, the one I spring closest from, are very introverted. My mother’s introversion pairs well with her aunts but still, pales in comparison with my dad’s introversion which tends to run deeper. Much of my father’s family is introverted (with the exception of various in-laws).
One of the most mystifying, even counter-intuitive, things I’ve learned after studying and experiencing human behavior is just how much of it is writ upon our genes. I initially subscribed to the blank slate school of thought for a very short period of my childhood. After all, it was the politically proper and academically popular way to reckon the human creature. It was expected that we simply accept this as a timeless truth: that our personalities are created, not born. It is as if society, seeking to release us from the burden of inherited personality and cognitive traits (ie, cerebral based) and their damning predestined nature upon our lives, seeks to adorn our perspective with lies and excuses in order to never have to feel bad about ourselves. We are a spiritually lazy species and it’s easier to believe pretty lies than face harsh truths that require gumption to overturn.
In this fashion, I’m convinced that the clearest distinction we can use to sort people into differentiated camps of behavior is the introversion/extroversion divide. This divide provides the clearest picture we can have of people without directly observing them. The toolbox of behaviors and habits that accompany the introvert and the extrovert are largely predictable; the introversion/extroversion dichotomy makes it possible to largely guess what a person will be like, what they will prefer and despise, and how they will respond to all stimuli. If we know confidently that you are an extrovert, it also infers that we can deduce how you will act in a number of disparate situations, and likewise, if you are labeled an introvert, the same can be said.
I’m also convinced that in assortative mating, the introversion/extroversion dynamic is as important as other physical archetypes which serve to draw people together (or dispel them) under the spell of romance. I don’t believe introverts and extroverts can ever co-exist and definitely not for long, over the span of marriage and other long-term commitments.
Introverts and extroverts, especially as they move toward the farther reaches of the spectrum, contrast too vividly to interact or share and appreciate common experiences. When self-examining my marriage, and its ultimate demise, I rest blame on my shoulders for the events leading to its dissolution, but on the other hand, these events did not happen in a vacuum. The elemental tension and disruption was caused by my ex-wife’s blaring extroversion as it collided with my own pathological introversion. Our personalities, over time, were unable to coexist as we sought different means of expression and coping.
This conflict bleeds into desires, interests, pastimes, leisure, priorities; for extroversion/introversion also signal the presence of vast range of intellectual and emotional manifestations that will eventually clash if they differ too vastly.
This dynamic is writ across all civilization and culture.
Perhaps the terms “introversion” and “extroversion” are too trite for usage in such far-ranging description of such broad swaths of human civilization, but they represent innate archetypes afflicting mankind, and by extension, mankind’s conflicts and tensions that design society. Everything that we have accomplished and failed to do so, at this point in time, can be fairly ascribed to the “introversion/extroversion” spectrum.