I Hate Introverts: A Label Breakdown.

Via Katrina Kunstmann
on Sep 25, 2013
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Introvert by Katrina E. Kunstmann
Introvert by Katrina E. Kunstmann

I Hate Introverts.
To be fair, I hate Extroverts equally.

They are but two terms now tacked on to the growing laundry list of labels I am less than fond of, which include the likes of male, female, heterosexual, homosexual, queer, transgender, gender neutral, asexual and on and on it goes, the list gallops away into the sunset. Introvert and extrovert simply get under my skin all the more than the other words because recently many people think that hashing them out is simple, is easy a la handy infographics.

I understand the importance of labels, their necessity. Labels spread awareness and create a point of contact, build a platform for understanding other people and the diversity of our lives. Their ability to empower us is undeniable, but the party kinda stops there. I’m not simply referring to the capacity of labels to be used against us, but the ability of labels to limit ourselves and hold us in place. They inform but the should not be our everything and our all.

As this fine fellow relates, gender—not unlike introversion and extroversion and sexuality—are scales or graphs rather than fast and dirty binaries.

I am a female sexed gender fluid pansexual ambivert, who doesn’t really feel entirely human all of the time either. I am smack in the middle of everything. “A true Libra,” as my boyfriend put it. Yet even these terms do not entirely suit me. Every time someone posits to me questions such as what I am, what I do or who I do, I’m extremely tempted to reply: “I am a Katrina,” while staring unflinchingly back at them with a knowing and self-assured smile. Because I’m not really pansexual, I’m not really a writer or an artist, I’m not really gender fluid and I’m not really human—but at the same time, I am. I am whatever you want to call all those things mixed up in their respective values into one nerve wracked yet zen thunder squall of an individual, espoused in a 5’ 6” package.

I am a Katrina.

For a while I was straight, then for quite some time I was bisexual. But really, I’m more pansexual—if someone sets my heart ablaze, they set my heart ablaze, gender and sex irrelevant. My heart is polyamorous even if my body, at the moment, is not. Species isn’t even a limit for intimacy for me—I’ve had profound and deeply connective relationships with trees and I think if a good looking robot came on to me I’d probably have a go. But rather than embracing all of this, truly embracing it, I kinda let it sit on the back burner of myself while masquerading the slightly easier to swallow bi-sexual tomboy female. I never felt shame for these facets of myself, this diversity of self, but I never truly inhabited them up until recently.

I know I’m not the only one—I’ve had homosexual friends confide in me that they wanted to have intercourse with the opposite sex once in awhile as though it was something shameful. Silliness is what I call it, conforming to a set of invisible walls.

I am frequently mistaken for an extrovert, possibly because I get the verbal shits when I’m caught with my confidence pants down, possibly because talking to people doesn’t phase me too much due to years of debate team. Yet I’m an ambivert—the term I’m probably the most at peace with from the label-based Polaroid of my person. I truly inhabit both introvert extrovert—often I’m an extroverted introvert or an introverted extrovert or rapidly flip between the two extremes during one day. What might drain me one day, recharges me the next and visa versa. I love being around people and I love meeting new people, but good-goddamn if I don’t get my alone time—and I’ll be damned if someone is going to treat me exclusively like one or the other. The contradictory nature of my being knows no bounds.

Some might find power in their labels, I find power in my limitlessness.

In the novel I wrote, there is a character who is gender neutral. I never say this outright in the text, I simply refer to them as they and their, or by their proper name. The reader comes to understand who and what they are as they experience them, which is really how everything should be done in a perfect world.

But a perfect world this is not, so we resort to these limiting labels.

In a more-perfect but slightly less-than-perfect world, we would refer to whatever designation people felt they had per their respective positions on the graphs and scales. Kinsey 2, Gender 5, Ambivert 12. Though seemingly cold and calculating, the range of expression is far greater and more accurate than these buzz-word labels we cling to like life preserves amidst these tumbling tides.

I fully acknowledge that there are plenty of individuals who are perfectly content and fully embrace the solidity of their labels, but let us not entirely disregard the fluidity of everything and the fluidity of ourselves to change and evolve—arcing ever inwards towards our truest self. Change is the only constant—embrace it. We should not allow the dried husks of our former selves hold us in when we have grown into something different.

Labels have the capacity prevent people from knowing themselves and from knowing each other—they have the potential to open someone to deeper connection or take an individual as granted and walk away.

Labels are keys, that’s all they are.

They are keys to opening the doors to ourselves and to others. But the doors are all European—they have latches, not locks, and once you turn the key and open the door, the key is stuck in the latch. You have to let go of the key to walk through the door. You’ll always know and remember that key—it was once part of you—but that key does not define what lies beyond the door. What lies beyond the door defines the key.

So either everyone needs their own unique label (I am a Katrina) or we need to tone down the rigidity and seriousness and bump up the fluidity. Labels matter just about as much as they don’t—or shouldn’t anyway.

Each individual is a particular color from a limitless spectrum. Some may debate whether there is truly a difference between two reds, but speaking as someone with perfect color vision, I can say there most definitely  is, and more importantly, I respect that. Which is what all these pesky labels are all about, right?

I, for one, relish the opportunity to get down and dirty with understanding this universe and all the wonders that inhabit it, discerning through experience the difference between two very similar shades of purple or the wonders of gold and mauve intermixed. It’s just one big messy painting I get to swim in.

As my man Tom Robbins put it:

Death is simple. Life is messy. Give me life, the more complicated the better.

—Tom Robbins

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Ed: Sara Crolick


About Katrina Kunstmann

Katrina Kunstmann is vegetarian and hides from the high noon sun and is constantly praying for thunderstorms. She has itchy soles and wants to get back to Europe, where her heart resides in London and Berlin. Alas, California is her birthplace and home—for now. She travels as often as possible and dreams of throwing all her responsibilities in the sea and living out the rest of her life on the road. She is woefully addicted to creativity. She writes, draws, sculpts, and paints. She has a degree in screenwriting but isn’t sure when she’ll get back to it. If you are possessed to do so, you can find her visual art on her Krop Portfolio, and smatterings of her writings, art-stuffs and other bizarrities on her Tumblr. She has a Facebook profile, but suspects the entire site may have contracted a venereal disease. She is also in the process of making a comic. You can read the pages and observe her slowly go mad at the WARHEADcomic tumblr page.


8 Responses to “I Hate Introverts: A Label Breakdown.”

  1. smallgrl says:

    This is great, Katrina! I struggle with the concept and usage of labels, and find that there needs to be a broader acknowledgement of fluidity. I think that people are evolving much more quickly now than ever and in that we need to be able to see ourselves and each other as 'new' every day.

    Besides all the serious stuff, honouring fluidity and leaving labels loose keeps things much more interesting. 🙂

  2. Intrested says:

    Congratulations you are privileged. For those who are not, these labels you can so casually have the ability to throw away have had serious consequences not because of how we limit ourselves but because of how others limit us. A person embracing their label usually has more to do with their own self empowerment than about rigidity. I'm always amazed by people who turn a blind eye to the ways in which people are judged because of labels others impose upon them but the minute those same groups of people try to empower themselves by owning and encouraging people to positively connote these same labels, that's when people like you are offended. Funny how that works.

  3. Katrina Kunstmann says:

    I don't recall my article saying anything to extent that labels are absolute rubbish and should be erased from the earth, in fact I'm rather sure I acknowledge and support the necessity and empowering properties of labels, and simply suggest that we leave a little wiggle room in our lives for personal growth and evolution. Reclaiming labels and positively connecting with them is a great thing, if people are secure in the labels they have, that's wonderful, as I said in the article. Allowing room for growth and discarding of old labels when they no longer serve us is a far cry different than saying they should not be used at all.

  4. Interested says:

    My point is that opting in and out of labels is something generally reserved for the privileged, whether you acknowledge that you are privileged or not. I would have the same reaction to someone writing a piece about how race labels are limiting and therefore let's all remember that we are all just part of the human race or someone writing a piece on the limitations of picking a sexuality. Sure in theory that's all well and good except for when you belong to a marginalized group. I have also grown weary of this trend where extroverts claim to be ambiverts ('cus hey who doesn't like quiet time with a cup of tea and a book sometimes) as a way of silencing any attempt by introverts to say hey stop labeling me as weird, antisocial, not a team player etc. The world is an extrovert's playgound. Introverts talk about their quirks for two seconds and every extrovert feels the need to put pen to paper. Introverts know full well that we are limitless, people are simply trying to get the rest of the world to realize that too. As long as you are in the position of being part of the group whose label has fewer social consequences you can reject your labels at whim. I would be more impressed if writers like you explored the idea of how sometimes embracing labels and coming to peace with who we truly are is exactly what frees us to explore our endless possibilities.

  5. Katrina Kunstmann says:

    Thank you, I very much appreciate your comment! Yes, labels are sticky business to be sure and respecting the self and others is most certainly the prime directive. I absolutely agree that each day is a new day and a new self, though it can be a challenge to live it.

    Keeping things more interesting is also a prime directive, without a doubt. Without the interesting diversity of life and the ability to change and flux, life would quickly lose its spark.

  6. Katrina Kunstmann says:

    I see your point, and I by no means disagree with you, though you still seem to be missing my point. I'm actually really happy the introverts are finally getting light and recognition, if anything I'm upset that they're not getting more, and I find it irritating that introverts are treated as easily understood simply because they identify as introverts. Simply because one is an introvert doesn't mean that they are shy, bookish, quiet or dislike social interaction, which up until recently, was the general trend I was seeing. More introverts are speaking out and dispelling a lot of assumptions about how introverts operate, and that makes me super happy because it fosters investigation, connection and respect. Just as anyone from any branch of life should speak out and broaden horizons. The word introvert is just a jumping off point to understanding the deeper individual, as with any label, but a lot of people just take the snippets and assumptions they've ingested and project assumptions about who or what the person is rather than delving deeper and it is this as well that I take issue with concerning labels, not the empowerment or the liberation of the labels, so yes, I agree with you. Further my point is that if we all respected and honoured the fact that everyone is different, labels would be rendered pointless. But naturally, that’s not going to happen, but it’s most certainly a lovely aspiration, and one I feel worth striving for even if it never happens. Perhaps my opinions will change with time, but for now, that is how I feel.

    Honestly, decrying labels and truly inhabiting labels /are/ the same thing, essentially, its a ring of inter-connectivity. By truly owning and inhabiting whatever it is that we are, we broaden that definition through our existing and inhabiting to include our subtly unique manifestation of man, woman, introvert, extrovert, ambivert, etc and so forth. Eventually the variations of these definitions bleed together, and create the same range of expression that I suggest wherein everyone has their own unique defining label, a lexicon of infinity. Truly investigating and inhabiting the labels which open the door into limitlessness, as we define and redefine our labels is a slower, albeit far more realistic, method of broadening the world to the (granted very likely unattainable) lexicon/label infinity than what I suggest, but I am and always have been a firestarter at heart, so tearing down the entire system naturally appeals to me.

    Labels offer us opportunities to broaden and deepen the scope of the world, that much is undeniable, if anything I am vouching for us to do that—the are a wonderful tool—rather than use them as a springboard for assumptions, which I see often in the world, such as you are doing to me by assuming that I'm an extrovert. Or rather, perhaps, you perceive me to be an extrovert, which is fine—just as how I did not perceive many of my friends to be introverts simply because my perception of them is different though by no means alters my respect and love for them. I can’t change your opinions or your perceptions, you are clearly set in your ways.

    I've actually tested as a true ambivert, I'm not an extrovert. I honestly couldn't have talked my way out of a paper bag when I was younger—conversation and social interaction is a learned skill just like anything else—natural knack and hunger for it is a different thing. I'm shy, or rather I can be—not that shyness and introversion are the same thing, as has been pointed out before— even around people I know, and most days the idea of having the day alone to peace and quiet is far more appealing than going out and drinking at a bar or having a party with friends. Even when I go out, I’d much rather be alone with my thoughts. I go through cycles of being more introverted or more extroverted for months or years, punctuated with more subtle fluctuations within those personal seasons. Several years ago I was more extroverted, now I'm more introverted, I've no doubt I'll flip again sometime in the future—or not. I'm an ambivert and life is a goddamn contradiction, what can I say.
    Thanks for sparking this conversation, it’s been nice. :>

  7. Jessalyn says:

    I was LITERALLY having this conversation in the car last night with friends. Thank you for writing this! It has always driven me crazy how I jump between this desire to be free of definition and limits, while feeling the pressure to label/articulate myself in ways that others can understand…and yet they all attach their own meanings to whatever words I use.

    I'm glad we are moving in a direction of more fluidity and moment-by-moment awareness. It's a beautiful thing, and if hashing out words and labels in the meantime helps us get there I think thats okay if it can be done with respect and self-knowing; acknowledgement of change as a constant, as you say 🙂

  8. Interested says:

    I appreciate your thoughtful response 🙂