Humility, Introverts vs. Extroverts, and other thoughts on Life

Linguistics is interesting.

Oftentimes it is a fascinating experience to hear someone speak a dialect different from what you’re used to hearing, and learning a whole new different set of words is even more fascinating.

I remember someone saying, non-verbatim, “if you’re truly good at speaking a [foreign] language, you will never feel compelled to show off your skills.”

This line has struck me in more ways than one, not just in the context of language but I suppose in all walks of life.

Humility is simple but is probably one of the most difficult traits to develop and exercise.

For one, it is an irony in itself — you cannot tell people you are humble because that in itself displays the contrary.

Second, humility nowadays, at least how I see it, is quite underrated. It is very easy to oversee its everyday form displayed even in the simply vast ways – genuine apologies, admission of fault, being able to take ‘no’ for an answer, understanding that not everyone will conform to your wishes, and so on.

That’s the thing about humility though, it doesn’t have to be loud and out there to be recognized, and yet it is one of the most difficult traits for one to master.

gaelle-marcel-85383Despite the different ways that exist to express humility, thankfully only one factor shines in determining its authenticity: sincerity.

There are some examples mentioned above that could be expressed nonchalantly but in a passive-aggressive way, which is quite on the other end of humility. Passive-aggressive behaviors pose underlying resentment, frustration, and inability to confront extrinsic stimuli that the person considers as threats, among others. You may have encountered this as a child, apologizing because your parents told you it is the right thing to do but not exactly because you feel it in yourself that it is what should be done. Even I did it at one point – perhaps everyone has – and continuously we might encounter people who pose such ingenuity on our way.

Recently, someone messaged me about a breakup, how hurtful and how big an impact it has left on her. It wasn’t until a couple of weeks later that an interesting conversation arose — she messaged again regarding what happened, only this time it was an admission of her faults and flaws that led to the breakup. She later sought for books or articles out there she can learn from in order to grow better as a person, which was not only a big turn of events but also an inspiring one.

That one situation really made me think about humility. It doesn’t take a dire situation to recognize this gem of a trait; sometimes it only takes one conversation to appreciate such quality from people. I’ve encountered some people, specifically those whom I’ve worked with, that really cannot have their ego be overtaken. Yes, I understand the entire hierarchy that goes with office politics, but it still baffles me how we can put on such steel hearts and treat others as if they have no feelings or lives outside the walls of a building. To me, it is a sad phenomenon to see people put on completely different masks in order to get ahead everyone else; what makes us different from machines if this is the case? This is the thought that actually led me to think about how underrated humility has become, and how seemingly difficult it is for us to practice, even on social media.

Long story short — being a nice person shouldn’t be that difficult, and being humble goes a really long way.

Just because you’re smart doesn’t mean you automatically become successful.

My adviser in college once said that despite how brilliant you may be, if your personality does not fit that of a good lawyer’s, then you cannot be a lawyer. There are certain jobs that still need a certain profile. This is probably why some people who serve you in fast food chains are not good servers — simply because they are not fit for the role.

Have you ever heard of the thing called Extraversion Bias?

Basically, people can be considered either an introvert or an extrovert depending on their [energetic] response to stimuli, specifically to people. In my previous work, we highly recognized this categorization, understanding whenever someone needs to squeeze in headphones and avoid people in order to focus on a task, or if someone works much better in a noisy environment. Such categorization allowed us to gauge interactions better and take into consideration that someone who doesn’t talk much doesn’t necessarily mean the person is shy, antisocial, or not leader material.

Funny thing is that I am almost always assumed to be an extrovert; probably because I talk and react to a lot of things quite easily. Not really. This simply means I like to communicate and make connections. (At the end of the day, I will still need to recharge my batteries after interacting with people.)

I always believed I am not a leader type. Some of us are better commanders than executers, and I’m fine being the latter. There’s no room for me to complain if I am not fit to be the president of a company, if in the first place I have somewhere I can offer my services to. In the same sense, if presented with an opportunity to influence others, why would I decline a chance to be a good example and help people along the way?

But I digress. Just like most things such as introversion and extraversion, everything we perceive today has been shaped to conform or challenge our views. Millions of years of evolution has presented us endless ways to interpret our surroundings. I don’t necessarily dismiss ideas (especially those backed up by studies) but, you know, society and its constructs is a pretty intriguing topic to dig into. You can read more about Social Constructionism here.

Back to Extraversion Bias — If you ever feel inadequate just because society doesn’t see your introverted glitter and confidence, consider seeing the video above again. It is an unnecessary use of time to feel like you’re not good enough just because you like to swim in your own thoughts more often and develop your skills in the quiet. People are all different, and we all work differently. Remember that.

Growing old doesn’t equate to growing up.

I was interviewing a candidate for my former company some time ago and one of his answers that really left an impact was, “We grow up. We learn. We see things from a different perspective.”

Most of the time age doesn’t mean wisdom, and I’ve known some who are quite young but pose a lot of wisdom than some I know who are older than I am.

Chase and I were having a conversation about how machines might overtake humans one day. And yet, despite how smart Artificial Intelligence could get, no matter how identical they can copy the way our brains work, they will never be quite as human as humans are, will they?

Despite the scientific explanation that our emotions are a result of our neurons communicating with each other, it is the fact that we make mistakes in order to learn what we like (or not like) is something that might not be all possible for machines to do. Machines are designed in a way that they will make decisions in order to maximize their chances of reaching a particular goal, whereas we human beings sometimes know that something is not good for us and yet — admit it — we make a conscious step to do wrong things simply because they feel right.


How wonderful the twists of life are in this sense — that we are able to grow at our own pace, adapt with what’s given (or thrown at) us on a daily basis. We are flexible in our own rights, most of the time without us even realizing. We respond, we move, we constantly think and feel, and to me, that is such complexity that machines will have a difficult time trying to duplicate.

Photos by Aga PutraGaelle Marcel, and Roman Kraft via Unsplash
Video courtesy of ASAP Science, and WIRED via YouTube

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