There are not two types of people

By Claire Fisher | 3/15/17 9:48pm


Type A or type B, introvert or extrovert, optimist or pessimist: we have a tendency to classify ourselves into two groups of people. One or the other. These classifications help us gain insights into who we are and who we are not. Sorting our personalities into two definite and opposite categories, isn’t accurate or productive.

People are not one or the other: they generally fall somewhere on the spectrum. People aren’t always optimistic or always pessimistic. And we aren’t totally sloppy or totally neat. We fall somewhere in between.

The day, the time or our moods can also impact the behaviors we exhibit from day to day. We might need a regimented plan one day and feel more relaxed and go-with-the-flow the next. You might feel the need to be really organized and neat in your desk at work, but allow your dorm room to be very messy. People don’t exist as one or the other, we may often find ourselves somewhere in between. Trying to fit our dynamic and complicated personality into unchanging, definite, rigid categories isn’t an accurate way to reflect the people we are.

Not only are these categorizations not accurate, but in terms of increasing our understanding of ourselves, they aren’t productive. People grow and change. If you take a personality test that classifies you as a pessimist, you might always consider yourself a pessimist. When faced with the choice between an optimistic comment and a pessimistic one, you might choose pessimistic because you’ve been told you’re a pessimist. Or if you consider yourself an optimist, you might leave yourself no room to question things or plan for the worst. You’ve left yourself no room to change or to grow.

In general, our obsession with finding a category for ourselves has permeated our lives. We take online quizzes about which character from Harry Potter we are, what Myers-Briggs stereotypes fits you best, or what each zodiac sign determines about our personality. We’re seeking insight into our personality, something to tell us why we are the way we are and why we do the things that we do. But painting yourself into a box of being a Hermione Granger or a Ron Weasley isn’t healthy. You won’t always be an Albus Dumbledore and you everything that describes Dumbledore will be you.

Characters and personality types don’t define who you are. They can help you understand yourself better and those quizzes are really fun, but they don’t determine whether you’re good or bad, happy or sad, funny or not funny, neat or messy. Personalities and behaviors change over time, and trying to sort everybody into categories isn’t a productive way to live.

Just be who you are. It doesn’t matter what the quiz classifies you as and it doesn’t matter what other people think you are. Just be who you are. 

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