Thursday, 17 July 2014

Personality Theories.

There are many types of people living on this green and blue sphere that we call Earth. There are the people that fold the corners of books. There are the people that use leather bound, hamma bead, or movie-themed bookmarks. There are people that crack the spine and leave the book face down on the present page. There are the people that use an old bus ticket, a chewing gum wrapper or a random scrap of paper to mark their place. Then, I suppose, there are the people that don't read (albeit the back of the shampoo bottle in the shower I suppose).

Classifying people into their respective categories has always embedded itself into the subconscious actions of society. I'll hit you with three words (metaphorically of course). The Breakfast Club. Not the restaurant in London considered somewhat of a hipster hangout or a place for every blogger and their nan to flock to with fancy DSLR's to take monotonous pictures of a bagel. I'm talking about the film written and directed by John Hughes (a film which I could watch 124645467734489x over). It shows us everything that's wrong with society, and shows us everything that could be done for society in the space of one room, on the single date of March 34th in 1984. Despite being released in 1985, the message is still widely valuable in today's society: society is dependant on your own perspective, no matter whether you're 
a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess, or a criminal.

Which leads me nicely onto the topic of today's post. Personality theories. For some reason, dividing society up into three categories based on their personality is about as boring and monotonous as dividing numbers through the infamous primary school 'bus stop method'. These three types of people that I'm commonly referring to are introverts, ambiverts, and extroverts.

Consider it a scale (for somebody who froths at the mouth with fear at the thought of maths I'm really going for this analogy). On the far left, you have the introverts. These are the people that like to wallow in their own thoughts a lot. They feel drained after social situations, but re-charge by solitudinal activities such as reading and writing. They're usually pretty socially awkward (falling over chair legs, saying things at the wrong moment in time and forever making a bit of a Pratt of themselves in large groups-you get the gist). Next up, on the far right of the scale, you have the extroverts. Consider these the people at school who prance around willing everyone's eyes to detract from their current activity and follow their every move. Social situations emphasize their personalities. These are the people that keep the conversation flowing; the lovers of small talk, the ones bubblier than a wrongly opened champagne bottle and the ones willing to strike up a conversation with any willing passer-by. Now, consider the ambiverts pretty central on the scale. 

The human mind is like a piece of abstract art. We might not get it. It might not make complete sense. But that does not prevent society from stepping back and admiring it. A personality theory is simply a brush stroke on a painting. Society over-analyses art. Society develops theories far more abstract than the art itself. ‘The head is painted in a pale blue which reflects the artist’s depressive nature’. No. Maybe the artist just wanted to paint the head blue. So why is it society labels everything it can?

But there is a small degree of science to account for these 'labels'. Your personality, as we all know, is rooted in your brain. Your thought processes, your actions and your feelings all stem from the core of your brain cells. 

Studies have found that introvets have more blood flow in the anterior and frontal thalamus, found in the frontal lobes of their brains. This is the part of the brain that deals with internal processing, hence explaining the need to mull your thoughts inside rather than externally. However, research shows that 'extraverts' tend to have greater blood flow in the temporal lobes, posterior thalamus and anterior cingulate gyrus, three parts of the brain involved primarily in sensory and emotional experiences. Despite this, these 'personalities' tend to fluctuate all the time. Carl Jung once said that, "there is no such thing as a pure extrovert or a pure introvert. Such a man would be in a lunatic asylum." Most people tend to waver in the middle of the scale, feeling both drained yet exhilarated after social situations.

If I partake in this excessive personality-labelling (I am part of society after all), I suppose that I consider myself somewhere between the introvert and ambivert point, although shuffled slightly more to the introvert-side-of-life.

Why? I favour stolen seconds of silenced solitude whereby your thoughts are free to run and jump and hop and skip. 
Why am I lenient to partaking in the act of introversion? I hate the stigma of reliance. I cannot fathom my thoughts into coherent sentences in groups. Social situations drain all of the energy from my cells and pour it into the energetic veins of the extrovert always craving more. As Einstein once said, “Energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be changed from one form to another.” From your body to the next. From the introvert to the extrovert. From me to them. We are simply one big energetic cycle   

The whole aura surrounding the idea of an introvert is heavily associated with the shy, moody kid who sits in the corner and doesn't speak. When will society unveil its eyes from its cloudy haze of self-righteousness and realise that its ideas and stereotypes are utterly (butterly) WRONG?

I consider myself an introvert. I revel in my own self-constructed bubble of solitude. I feel like a doe under headlights when forced to talk about the most pointless of things. I am usually pretty quiet in big groups. God, I'm most likely considered pretty high up on the boring chart. The truth is, consistent chit-chat about the latest celebrity rumours, talk of the somewhat rebellious teenage antics of the people in my year, and the idea of 'mugshots' (which for the record, are horrible photos taken unknowingly for people to howl with laughter at), horrifies me. If all our generation has come to is meaningless fa├žades; traces of passion that alight true conversation banished forever, then I am ashamed to be considered part of it. You got drunk at the weekend and now you're boasting about it? Bloody fantastic. Award for the self-labelled gossip of the century goes to you honey. Mugshots? What happened to photos bearing a physical memoir, a treasured collection of dotted bits of colour to reminisce over? Teenagers have enough self confidence issues as it is, without people (who are most likely doing it because they think it will make them look better) laughing over their appearance. Mugshots don't bother me too much, really. In comparison, I have bigger fish to fry than worrying about how my nose looked big in that Snapchat or what people will think of me. After all, its the inside that counts, right? I often go by the adapted saying, "If you have nothing interesting to say, then don't say it at all".

I'm not saying that I don't partake in frivolous chit-chat and gossip. Every girl does. Going to an all girls' Grammar School, I cannot single out a school day where bitchiness doesn't clog up the corridors as much as actual students attempting to rebel againt the one-way system. But just because I do have a natter about pointless things a lot of the time, it doesn't mean that I believe in it. I hate the awkward small talk when you stop at the first rounders base, and the expectation to be bubbly and confident at all times.

I wouldn't consider myself boring. If you give me a good portion of time to mull my thoughts over, I bet we can have a pretty fantastic conversation. Talk to me about interesting things. Books. Society. The future. Things that won't wash away in yet another wave of pointless gossip. Those are the kind of things that I would actually love to immerse myself in a lengthy debate over.

Back in the horrible cloud of pre-exam-ness a few months back, one particular titbit of knowledge stood out to me in the ICT module. 

When verifying data, there are two totals that you can achieve.You can either achieve a batch total, or a hash total. A batch total is used to find purposeful data. For example, this may be adding up the individual profits that each item makes in a shop per annum. However, a hash total is used to find meaningless data. An example is adding up all of the product numbers. It serves a limited purpose, unlike the result of a batch total. 

And recently, my mindset when it comes to conversation has been shaped by these two verification techniques. When we learnt about the two techniques in ICT, the common mutter echoing around the classroom was 'What's the point of a hash total?' Hence I see it like this: a hash total serves a limited purpose. In most cases, it tells the database manager that no two records have been entered twice. In short, the result is meaningless. It doesn't materialise into anything 'purposeful', unlike the data achieved through a batch total, such as a net profit. Batch totals create meaningful, purposeful data that can be manipulated and used for a greater purpose. 

Now the point of this analogy: introverts tend to encompass themselves simply by performing batch totals in their heads- and rarely partake is hash totals. I would rather talk about things that mean lots to me than things that amount to nothing.

The one common misconception is that introverts do not enjoy the company of other people. Wrong. Actually, just like the majority of the population, (and contrary to popular belief), introverts do actually revel in the company of others. However, introverts tend to be more reserved in these kind of situations. We like to mull things over in our heads, to swish our thoughts around in our heads like you those fancy wine tasters swish their glasses around on TV. Extroverts think out-loud. They're the first to arrange things, to suggest a meet up, and the first to talk to new people. That's not to say that I wallow away in a corner when I go to social events. Let's take the Company Magazine Blog Awards 2014 as an example. I struck up conversation, I laughed lots, I met new people and I had an all round fabulous time. But I sat on the train home and waded through school the next day in a fairly quiet, thoughtful haze. I had used up so much energy, so much concentration and effort that I simply needed to take a step back from the world and re-charge in a pool of my own thoughts.  

Then there is another reason as to why I actually enjoy solitude. Why I love reading, why I love immersing myself in happy thoughts and blasting music from my laptop into my headphones, obliterating the world that's not in the rectangle of my laptop screen. When you revel in your own company, you're not forced to live up to any expectations or pressures, apart from the ones you set yourself. Yourself. Yourself only. You can simply be this person. There's no judgement outside of that little self-consumed-bubble. Really, its okay to be self centred once in a while and simply cater for your own needs rather than anybody else's.

Introvert Audrey Hepburn once said "I love being by taking long walks with my dogs and looking at the trees, the flowers, the sky...". And that simply resonates with me. When you're involved in a pointless chin-wag with others, small details often go unnoticed. I watched the film, 'About Time' at half past one on Saturday evening last weekend, and it struck me, just as this particular quote has done. The overall message of the film is that you should live every day in all of its ordinary - extraordinary-ness. Take time to look up from your social media feeds once in a while. Revel in your own personality. I like to observe things. I might not have anything particularly interesting to contribute, but it doesn't mean that my thoughts aren't a whirlpool. I found this anonymous quote on Tumblr recently, and it's stuck out in my life like a sore thumb (a lovely sore thumb nonetheless), “A crowded room full of people talking about nothing of interest to me is one of the loneliest places in the world. I’d rather sit and observe in silence.” I would rather sit and observe the small details; the way that the old married couple look at each other over the table, the way that children giggle in all of their jovial oblivion in a game of hide and seek, and the moment when a person attempts to make eye contact with somebody they're stuck in a whirlwind of unrequited love with.

I might be a hermit. I might screen some calls from friends because I would rather immerse myself in the lives of fictional characters rather than real lives, and I'm often rather socially inept, but you know what? I like it that way. 

I can sit at home and find more excitement in a good novel than in a house party. It's just me. One of my particular role models is Emma Watson, who once said that, "It’s interesting, because people say things to me like, “It’s really cool that you don’t go out and get drunk all the time and go to clubs,” and I’m just like, I mean, I appreciate that, but I’m kind of an introverted kind of person just by nature, it’s not like a conscious choice that I’m making necessarily. It’s genuinely who I am … Coming to realize that about myself was very empowering." This quote speaks volumes to me, and probably, most like-minded people.

It's why I write. Why I read. Why I express myself online more than I do in real life.I like how this blog allows me to collect my thoughts, to consider them and mull these thoughts over and over in my head before I click that big orange publish button. I know I have a certain degree of expectations from readers, but they don't stare at me wide eyes in a social circle seeking for me to materialise into a very bubbly persona all of a sudden.

I may be considered a fairly chronic introvert, but whatever side of the scale you find yourself on, it really doesn't matter.

What do you think of these so called 'personality theories'? Where do you consider yourself on the scale?

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